2:45am came quick as I pulled myself out of bed ready for a long day of pedaling. Stephanie Wolf had come up from Richmond the night before and crashed at my house which was our departure point. By 3:30am guest rider Wendy showed up with Kimberly and soon after Jerry. There were lots of little details with bikes, lights, nutrition, stuffing pockets and stuffing our 2015 VW Golf Sportwagon TDI with all we would need for the weekend, which Claudia would drive for us later that morning.
Riding to the start location through the awakening DC streets we seemed to catch every red light and the departure time of 5am grew close. Thankfully it didn’t take long to find our 2nd guest rider, Mike Manatos and minutes later we were off!
The VW bus leading us pulled aside after only a few intersections and we were on our own. Without a police escort or designated ride leader there were some confusing moments as my GPS directions conflicted with some of the experienced group riders. We let them through and followed the bunch staying towards the front and out of trouble.
Once we made our way out of DC things settled down and thankfully Gripped Racing was all together. The pace had been uncomfortably high but once we all settled in and found a rhythm we self-selected and formed our own group.
Conversations quieted and the countryside between DC and Annapolis began to wake up. The sun slowly poked through the trees and aside from a very upset pickup truck driver (apropos) we had a drama-free spin into Annapolis.
At the War Memorial overlooking Annapolis Bridge we met with Glenn and Claudia who ferried us over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, allowing us to not wait as long for putting bikes on moving trucks and boarding the provided buses. Glenn and Claudia would leapfrog us to each rest stop and often times Glenn could be found helping others as we pulled in or rode past.
After an hour on rt. 404 we were happy to reach the next aid station which had both Italian Ice and locally grown watermelon!
To cut off some of the dreaded rt. 404 highway I took us on a detour further North into the Delaware countryside. Thankfully this un-scouted route ended up being the most enjoyable stretch of roads all day.
Shortly after 1pm we neared the beach and with one last climb in front of us I grabbed the drops and started a sprint up the inter-coastal bridge. A quick look back and I didn’t see anyone give chase but after my glance Jerry poured on the gas and passed me soundly just before the top of the bridge, taking the coveted final sprint. Impressive riding for a guy who has not had much training time (and would have to return to work in Sterling VA later that day).
Jerry took Glenn’s Jeep back to DC allowing Glenn to hang with the rest of us for the evening. Glenn’s Jeep was returned to him the next day by some wonderful drivers for Lindsay Volkswagon , yet another reason we so appreciate their support. The rest of us enjoyed not riding our bikes and spent time at the beach or in the ocean. Thank you for reading and thank you to everyone who helped us raise !!!