My bicycle at the Port Penn Trail trailhead in Delaware

  

Saki

Bicycling Adventures 2009


Last updated October 15, 2009

 

 

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Pine Creek Rail Trail
For a trip report of my October 11-12, 2009 biking trip which covered the full length of the Pine Creek Rail Trail, see Pine Creek Rail Trail 2009.




Hyattsville to Hanover
Norma came up with the brilliant idea to bike from her house to mine. She found a route at Washington to Baltimore and we modified it to suit our needs.

Our August 23, 2009 route took us on the Northwest Branch Trail then the Northeast Branch Trail. This led us to Lake Artemesia where we saw perhaps a hundred white water lilies at their peak bloom. See first, second, and third photos at left.

The best part of the day was seeing a little girl with her parents run towards a medium sized dog. She was eager to play with it and the dog was just as eager to play. The leashed dog barked. It was clearly a very playful bark but it scared the little girl and she ran the other direction back to her parents, crying like all hell broke loose. It was freaking hilarious.

After riding on the trails, we hit the roads. I don't think I would want to do this route during the week but on the weekend, the traffic was light. We rode on Odell Road at the edge of the Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (USDA).

A little later, we rode on Brock Bridge Road next to the Patuxent Research Refuge, home to many an unexploded munition.

Near the Little Patuxent River, Norma got a flat tire. I replaced the tube and we continued, stopping at Duvall's Marketplace to buy locally grown fruit.

After that, it was just a few more miles to get to my house.

The route we chose probably wasn't the best. We made a few wrong turns. I would like to get more familiar with the route and map it out in great detail. Maybe after kayaking season ends.
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Maine
For a trip report of my July 27, 2009 bike ride on the Carriage Roads in Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, Maine, see Maine 2009: Day 3.


Pine Creek Gorge
For a trip report of my July 4, 2009 biking trip on the Pine Creek Rail Trail in the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, see Pine Creek Gorge 2009.




Governor Bridge to Wooten's Landing
After putting long days of training at work all week, I decided to work a half day on Friday, March 20, 2009 then get out and enjoy the first day of Spring.

I drove out to Governor Bridge then began riding. I headed south on Patuxent River Road. This road parallels my beloved Patuxent River on the Anne Arundel County side. I rode past several old farms and what appeared to be an old plantation house in need of work.

The ride was hilly but not terribly so. Since the river flows from north to south, I too rode at an overall downhill during the first half of my ride.

I was hoping to reach Pennsylvania Avenue (route 4) and maybe stop at Patuxent Wetlands Park before heading back. Instead, I stopped at Wooten's Landing, a new discovery for me. See first photo at left. I had never even seen this park on the map. It was a nice little find. I biked on some dirt roads in the park and stopped to admire the beauty of the marshlands. See second photo. I saw several small fish and while I didn't see any frogs, I could hear them. In a few months, I expect I'll be able to return and look for polliwogs (or tadpoles, the term most non-Californians might find more familiar).

I spotted a significant amount of beaver chew (my term for wood that has been gnawed by beavers) along with a beaver lodge (see third photo).

If I had more time, I would have ridden all the roads in the park but I had to be somewhere later that day so I headed back. I never made it to Patuxent Wetlands Park though I wasn't the least bit disappointed. Instead, I found a new place to explore and that means more to me than seeing someplace familiar.

I ended up riding a moderately paced 21.5 miles.
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Biking in Gambrills
After my February 7, 2009 seven mile hike at the Governor Bridge area of Patuxent River Park, I set out on a bicycle ride to take advantage of the fine weather.

Rather than rely on a book or a website for my route, I decided to bike on some memorable roads I once enjoyed driving on back around 2002. At that time, I shared a house with Jenn S. in the Canter Farms area of Gambrills. While this location is close to everything I might want in a suburb, it is also a short distance from rural living. I figured it would make for the start of a nice bike trip.

For the 20 mile route that I biked, see Gambrills Loop.

There were LOTS of bicyclists out. There was a group of about 10 that was on their way to Washington D.C. I was in envy of their fast bikes but I'm pretty sure that my butt will be less sore after my ride than theirs. I don't recall seeing any other hybrid bikes like mine. I was definitely the slow poke, averaging just over 10 mph (including breaks).

I rode over the uppermost section of the South River. See the first photo at left. It is a section I've paddled a few times. There are lots of carp in this area around Defense Highway. To my north was the icy Bacon Ridge Branch which feeds into the South River. See second photo.

In Crownsville, I passed the Maryland Rennaissance Festival grounds. See third photo.

Near the Severn River, I made a wrong turn and rode up a steep hill that I had to go back down. It is here that I learned my bike needs a tune up as I am unable to use 7 of my lowest 21 gears.

I saw big horses, miniature horses, a goat, and a donkey. I biked past a polled hereford cow farm but didn't see any cattle.

I finished my ride feeling a little tired, physically. But mentally I felt great. It is amazing what spending a nice day outdoors can do for one's soul.

My 20 mile ride ended up being 21.5 after the wrong turns.

I really enjoyed this ride...even more than my January 23, 2009 ride. Sometimes, the best things are the ones closest to home.

It was a great Saturday. A 7 mile hike followed by a 21.5 mile ride. Who could ask for more? Well, the next day, I went ice skating in Washington D.C. then did at 4.5 mile full moon guided night hike at the National Arboretum. The weekend was pretty physical...just a sign of things to come in the spring.
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Delaware - Maryland Flatland Ride
After about 2 weeks with high daytime temperatures in the mid-30s and lower, I was eager to get outside when I learned that Friday, January 23, 2009 was expected to be sunny with a high of 50 degrees in Hanover, Maryland.

In the winter, I tend to work quite a bit in the early part of the month in case there is a day when driving to work is hazardous. Unlike the government, my company does not give us snow days. Although it has been very cold (with nighttime lows sometimes in the single digits) we really haven't had much snow. Hence, I had a surplus of hours. With such nice weather, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take the day off.

My rule of thumb is to not paddle unless the high temperature is at least 60 degrees and not bike unless it is at least 40. But sometimes I break it (the rule, not my thumb).

I wanted to bike someplace I haven't ridden. I considered the Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis (WB&A) Recreational Trail which now connects to Odenton but I figured that ride would be more fun with Norma. I also considered the Cross Island Trail on Kent Island but that too would be better with her companionship. When I have the whole day to paddle alone, I often pick a long route...something to challenge myself. Using the same logic for bicycling seemed like a good idea. Now I haven't exactly gotten out of shape but I also haven't ridden much in the last few months so I figured a distance of about 50 miles would be challenging enough.

Norma loaned me her Greater Washington Area Bicycle Atlas. In it, I found the Delaware - Maryland Flatland route. This 48.2 mile route was the right distance and seemed interesting because it was in an area I've never been. Additionally, it would take me along waterways I might later consider paddling.

On the way to the launch site...I mean the starting point, I crossed over the Sassafras and Bohemia Rivers. I think I've paddled the Bohemia River several years ago on one of Ralph H.'s Elk Neck State Park car camping trips. It was too long ago. I think I should return here in the summer with one of my boats.

I started biking at 0940. The high temperature was predicted to be 47 degrees in the area but during the early part of my ride, the thermometer read in the low to mid-30s. I was a bit cold but it wasn't that bad since I wore 3 layers on top, 2 layers on bottom, head/ear warmers, and 2 layers of gloves. For such a long ride, I tried to not overpack so I left my great big Maryland/Delaware DeLorme map in my car. I figured Norma's book was sufficient.

The ride began at the Bohemia Manor Middle and High School about a mile southwest of Chesapeake City in Cecil County, Maryland. I've spent very little time in this county so I was eager to explore it.

My first stop was in Chesapeake City at the 14 mile long Chesapeake and Delaware (C&D) Canal which connects the Chesapeake Bay with the Delaware River. I've never seen this canal before but I've been wanting to paddle it. I know some kayakers that did it (including Julio P.) but I was also told that it is illegal since the canal is only about an eighth of a mile across and made specifically for large boats. Still, I think it would be fun to do and I didn't see any mention of kayaks or canoes in C&D Canal Rules so I might give it a go sometime if I feel ballsy. The canal itself wasn't terribly impressive but all the ice flowing from east to west most certainly was. Some of the largest chunks had an above-water surface area greater than the shadow of my car. I was expecting a polar bear to come floating down on one of them. There was SO much ice! See first photo at left. There were very few spots that were NOT covered in broken ice. Growing up in the Sacramento valley, I've never seen anything like this before.

Biking eastward, I passed the C&D Canal Museum. I encountered a good deal of traffic...certainly more than I expected on a late Friday morning.

The nice thing about the eastern shore is that it is flat. This makes it easy to ride far and impress your friends with big mileage numbers. But what I don't like about the roads is that oftentimes the surrounding land is cleared off. In other words, the treeline is too far back. I'm guessing the trees were removed to make for farmland but since it is winter, the barren fields all look the same. The ground is mostly the same color and not particularly interesting.

I found a Canon PowerShot S410 digital camera in a black nylon case. The screen was cracked and the fire button was missing but the memory stick was still good. In it, I found some photos of young people camping. See second photo. Recognize any of these fine looking people? Norma found a Nikon Coolpix L6 camera awhile back that also had a cracked screen and an intact memory stick. But unlike the photos from the Canon, the photos from the Nikon had pictures of lots of marijuana being grown indoors. I no longer have that memory stick and I didn't copy the photos so the incriminating evidence is no more.

The author of the Greater Washington Area Bicycle Atlas provides directions based on mileage and identifies turns with road and route numbers rather than street names. The problem is that the signs where I rode often did not use numbers to identify the street, though some numbers are shown on a very small sign placed low. But since I ride with a GPS (now that this is 2009, I no longer spell out this acronym since I assume everyone and their dog knows what it means), I usually didn't have too much difficulty during the early part of the ride finding the turns.

The ice I saw floating down the C&D Canal testifies to the cold weather we've been having. Some of the smaller streams were frozen solid enough to support the weight of a person. I know this because I saw footprints on the ice. See third photo.

I rode through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Wildlife Area and the Augustine Wildlife Area.

At South Reedy Point Road I noticed there was almost no ice in the C&D Canal. See fourth photo. It seemed strange that there would be so much 15 miles downstream.

The most interesting part of the ride was the town of Port Penn. At the corner of Thorntown Road and Port Penn Road on Port Penn Road, I found the Port Penn Trail. See photo at the top left corner of this page. A wee bit south, I came to a wetlands area and found a muskrat lodge (see fifth photo).

Next I saw the Port Penn Wetlands Trail just north of the Market Street and Liberty Street intersections on Liberty Street. It was closed for the winter but I did venture to at least check out the boardwalk. See sixth photo. I don't know if the Port Penn Trail and the Port Penn Wetlands Trail connect. They are fairly close.

My last stop in Port Penn was the Port Penn Interpretive Center where I saw the Port Penn Schoolhouse (see seventh photo). This building reminded me of the one room Edward Kelley School that my mother attended in Sacramento. The Port Penn Schoolhouse was built in 1886. According to a sign at the site:
Eight grades of students attended classes in the two rooms of this school. The schoolhouse had a coal stove, outdoor privy, and a well. Because of segregation, Port Penn's African-American children were educated in a separate school on Port Penn Road. After it closed in 1961, the building served for a time as a bait shop. In 1975, it reopened as the Port Penn Museum, a symbol of the community's history and way of life.

I stopped for a break and a bite to eat at Augustine Beach. I don't remember ever being at a beach in the winter. It was strange to see whiteness along the shore that was ice instead of foam from waves (see eighth photo). Across the Delaware River, I could see the Salem Nuclear Power Plant in New Jersey (see ninth photo). There was a boat ramp at the beach. Maybe I can return and paddle to the power plant, then Fort Delaware and Salem, New Jersey. Obviously, I'm not thinking too hard about bicycling.

After lunch, I continued south into an 8-11 mph headwind. I crossed over Augustine Creek, Silver Run, and the Appoquinimink River. While much of this area is natural, it isn't necessarily interesting. Grasslands devoid of trees all start to look the same after awhile. Still, the fact that the Appoquinimink is long and narrow might make that a fun river to paddle, especially if I time it right with the Delaware River tide which can be pretty strong compared to the Chesapeake Bay.

In the town of Odessa, things stopped being fun. The town seemed pretty nice but I was unable to figure out my route. I stopped at a park and asked some people for help. They tried to point me in the right direction but things didn't seem right so I stopped at a gas station, bought a map, and asked the cashier for directions. She pointed me to Mechanic Street which is exactly where the book told me I should go. But instead of the street taking me a few miles on route 429, it quickly came to a dead end. The problem was that Mechanic Street was not the right street to take me to route 429...it was Marl Pit Road, which was never mentioned in the book. I didn't figure this out until I looked very closely at the map I purchased at the gas station. If I had brought my DeLorme map, it wouldn't have made any difference. My GPS was of limited use since I don't have the detailed Delaware maps loaded. Perhaps the problem is that Norma's book is the 4th edition from 1992 and my DeLorme map is the first edition from 1993. A lot can happen in 16 years. The folks I spoke to told me what I asked...I just didn't ask the right question. The folks at ADC maps say
     Don't drive today with yesterday's street atlas.
I now think that is a pretty good motto.

I spent quite a bit of time trying to get out of Odessa. I was getting tired but I still had quite a few more miles remaining. Fortunately, I had plenty of daylight left. But the peak temperature passed and it would start getting colder soon.

Despite the fact that I passed many natural areas, I didn't see much wildlife. But I did see quite a few geese, one heron, and other waterfowl. It was strange seeing ducks standing on the ice rather than swimming in the water (see tenth photo). I wonder if their feet get cold.

I finished my ride after 7.5 hours. My moving average was a little over 10.5 mph but I stopped many times to look around, take photos, and read the book.

My thighs were quite sore and my left hand was a little numb but my back, butt, neck, and hips felt fine. I saw a couple of serious road bicyclists and wondered if they could say the same. I've ridden fast bikes and I can't say I find them comfortable (although maybe I just never found the right one). My slow hybrid bike with the comfortable seat leaves me riding upright and feeling fairly good after a long 55 mile ride.

I went home and consumed more calories that night then I have in several months. But that's o.k. I earned it.
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