Sunday, October 10, 2010

100 Miles to the Ocean

Yesterday, I rode my bike in the Seagull Century from Salisbury, MD to Assateague Island and back.

After I graduated from law school in 1996, I was looking for something interesting to do so I rode a bike from Astoria, Oregon to Virginia Beach in 46 days. It got me addicted to road riding. Today, it's hard to make time for it with work, kids, etc., but I like to ride down to Mount Vernon and around Ft. Belvoir to Mason Neck when I spin off some serious miles around the neighborhood.

Otherwise, I have two rides I try to do every year, Schroon Lake, NY to Lake Placid, NY and the the Seagull. Lately, life (kids being born, political campaigns, etc.) have been getting in the way, but luckily things lined up yesterday and I was able to go.

It's an interesting race on a number of levels. For one, it's a change of scenery from Northern Virginia. It's just like Tidewater Virginia - dead flat. You get some tiny contours riding - the streams and rivers are pretty much just trench depressions filled with still water. The biggest hill is the bridge over the Intercoastal Waterway (picture on the left).

People come from all around and various charities to ride. I ran into two constituents (Tom Curcio and Ed Farino from Waynewood). There are three Fairfax County Judges who are regular riders (Tom Gallahue, Dennis Smith, and Jane Roush), plus a slew of other Fairfax lawyers. Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia are all thoroughly represented. People are decked out in corporate logos, college jerseys, sports teams, you name it.

There were groups representing all ethnicities - I saw the "Team Vietvelo" and a number of groups dedicated to the memory of Major Taylor - a black cyclist from the turn of the Century who was frequently prohibited from competing for racial reasons. There's even a group of over the hill Northern Virginian's from my district who go by the moniker - "Team Lardbutt."

IN terms of the scenery, 95% of the ride is through fields of soybeans, sorghum, and corn interrupted by forests. Aside from a few blocks of the Salisbury "suburbs," the picturesque Town of Berlin and a few others, it's almost entirely rural.

There are chicken houses everywhere. If it's hot when we ride, you smell them everywhere because the venilation fans kick in.

As you ride into Assateague Island, we usually see the ponies. This year, I tried to take a picture with one and I was threatened with a citation by a Park Policeman (he was next to the bike path and I didn't realize you couldn't touch him).

The ride is put on by the Salisbury State University Bicycle Club. They started the event in 1989 and today's it's grown to over 7,500 riders. They've donated over $110,000 to their local Habitat for Humanity chapter and as you can imagine, bringing 7,500 people into one place has a significant impact on local commerce - e.g. if each person spends an average $100 on the race, food, hotels, etc. that equals $750,000 of impact alone - the race probably has over $1,000,000 of impact per year. In terms of economic development, it's a no brainer.

This year, I averaged about 21 MPH through the first thirty miles. Then, my body reminded me that I was 39. At the end, my time was up to 5 Hours, 42 minutes or an average of about 17.8 MPH. Back when I was about 10 lbs lighter and 15 years younger, I could do it in under 5 hours.

There's always next year.....

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