Monday, August 03, 2009


Could be the title of a children's story, but actually this is a training-ride report.
Yup, saw 3 bears on my ride. One mama-cub duo, and one other adult. The mama and cub surprised me, and no doubt they were surprised, too, when I whizzed past where they were taking a drink out of a ditch, just off to the right of the road. The cub wasn't much bigger than a basketball. Mama jerked her head up but I was already past them when I heard her startled "Whuf!" I glanced over my shoulder but she wasn't giving pursuit.
The next one was halfway down a straight hill, so I saw it a hundred yards or so ahead, slowed down just a tad and yelled at it: "Yo, bear! I'm coming! Move, git!!" It did. When I passed the spot, it was nowhere to be seen.
I had planned a 3.5-hour ride, headed to Westernport to check out the Wall, maybe try to ride it, keep going till 1.75 hours, then turn around and ride back home.
I changed plans, though, and kept going on the course instead of doing an out-and-back. Seemed there wasn't much point in re-riding the course backwards when I could keep going forwards and see what more of the course was like. After about 35 miles, I passed a turn-off and kept straight so that I looped back home instead of finishing the course, totalling about 48 miles.
Guess what, I rode up the Wall. It goes up for 3 blocks, with 2 cross-streets, so after each block I rested on the cross-street for a minute or two before tackling the next block. The third block is the worst. The pavement is in terrible condition, with holes and cracks, grass growing up out of the cracks, patched spots that are rough, plus the pitch is 31%. It's been closed to cars for years. My back tire skidded a couple times when I guess I lifted the front wheel up off the road pulling forwards -- gotta watch that. But I made it up. Lowest granny gear, but I made it. Actually, I probably will go a gear or two higher next time: I was standing on the pedals and the low granny was actually a little too low; I think it made me wobble.
I guess those 3 sections could also be called "three bears on a bike ride."
At the top I stopped, got off the bike, took a whiz in the woods, and settled down before continuing up Big Savage Mountain.
The alleged 7-mile, 1,950-foot climb up Big Savage wasn't all that bad. I stayed in my low gears and moseyed easily up. It would go up, then level off, up, then level.... not bad at all. I wondered if I was even on the right road, it was so much less taxing than I'd expected.
I didn't need my cue sheet; the route is clearly marked with paint, with plenty of advance notice of turns, curves, and scary descents. When I reached the turn-off where I could continue the course or go home, I went home, which was 13 or so miles. I knew exactly where I was, having ridden/driven that road a jillion times. It's on the way to my mom's house.
Neither of my bike computers is working, so I had my stopwatch running and then figured my mileage with a combination of the cue sheet and G-maps. 48.1 miles, time 3:55, = 12.3mph average, including several stops, the Wall, Big Savage, and the large number of other Garrett County, MD hills and long grades. It was actually very nice not having the computers. I just kept my gears easy and had a nice, no-pressure ride.
Next week I'll do the whole course. It's not as bad as I thought it would be. There are two or three more "bears" on the part of the course I didn't do, including one called "Killer Miller Hill," which some SavageMen have said is the worst of all, although it doesn't get its own page at the Savageman site.
I guess we could say Savageman's "Three Bears" are the Westernport Wall, Big Savage Mountain, and "Killer Miller Hill," whicih, of course, I haven't tackled yet. We shall see!
I'm happy, and relieved. Except for the Wall, so far this is just the Garrett County bike-riding I've been doing for years. I can do this.