Double Nickels 2013

June 14

Bikes were loaded and we headed to Cambridge, Maryland, for this year's Double Nickels Tour. Emily and David were in charge and they found a beautiful house on the Chesapeake Bay for our lodging. The house is near Hooper's Island and we hopped on our bikes shortly after arriving for a 24 mile ride from the house to the end of the island and back before eating a fine chicken piccata dinner prepared by Emily.

The ride with water on both sides of the road ( sometimes lapping its sides), two bridges and vast Bay vistas combined with a gorgeous sunset inspired David to tell me that he could see why "your people Tom" love this place. SAY WHAT? You know, your people....sailors!

June 15

At a civilized hour we took off to ride the 7 mile wildlife loop at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge includes 27,000 acres of marshland; a prime bird watching spot. This time of year Red Winged Blackbirds, Egrets, Herons, Ospreys and Eagles (7) were easy to find plus a lot of little birds unknown to most of us and a bullfrog that called "Gretchen, Gretchen" over and over and over. The Refuge has to be an amazing spot during the seasonal migrations!

Adjacent to the Refuge is the recently declared Harriet Tubman National Monument. She was born a slave on a plantation in this area, ran away, became a free women and returned to the area many times from her home in Philadelphia to help slaves negotiate the Underground Railroad on their flight to freedom. She was an extraordinary woman and the Monument will be a fitting testament to her life.

Following the ride, we quickly headed to Cambridge for a 1:00 p.m. rendezvous with "my people" ...a sail on the skipjack Nathan of Dorchester. The boat was built by volunteers in Cambridge who donated over 14,000 hours of labor! The crew does a great job of informing guests about the history of oystering on the Chesapeake Bay, how skipjacks evolved and how organizations are trying to reseed oyster beds today. They even dredge for oysters; of course returning the catch to the bed!

Double Nickels plus the Helms friends Bob And Shelley

After the cruise we stopped for some libations at a creek side pub. Two extraordinary events occurred. David got to see the drawbridge go up and down (several times) and Laurie liked her Orange Crush! Bob, however, was dismayed that we did not follow the local tradition of drinking a shot each time the bridge was raised!

Tom and his people!

Upon returning home, David convinced us to help him check off one of his lifetime to do list items....ride his bike to a restaurant. So we headed to Old Salty's, five miles down the road on Hooper's Island. It was a busy restaurant with great food, but for some unknown reason the kitchen was having issues and it took over an hour and a half to get our food. As we ate the sun set and darkness fell, but we feared not for we had a variety of lights on our trusty steeds. Heading back to the house with Gary in the lead, we looked like a rescue squad with red and white lights flashing plus a few neon green spoke lights. Well, it was enough light to draw the attention of a local sheriff out on patrol. He slowed to bike speed next to Gary and informed him that we should not be out at night on this road (intoxicated drivers and such). But after a few silver-tongued words from Gary, the sheriff pulled away and we pedaled on. CHECK OFF ITEM!

Back at the house we tried to list all of the tours we have taken together when we suddenly realized that most of our group is now half way between Double Nickels and Triple Quarters! Only ten more tours and we can rename our group.

June 16

The plan today was to ride a 40 mile route; first to the Wildlife Refuge, then around the loop we did yesterday (10 Eagles today), followed by a roll though more remote parts of the Refuge on our way home. All I can say is it was a great day to be on a bike; beautiful scenery, great weather and fine companions! Dinner at the High Spot Gastropub (fresh local food) in Cambridge topped off a perfect day!

Can you say flat?

June 17

Oh no, it is time to head back home! It was a great trip Emily and David. Thanks so much for all of your planning to pull it together. Good to see you once again Bob and Shelley. Glad you joined us.

We ride to eat!



Murrells Inlet

The Prius was pointed south as we got underway for our first visit to the Hill's new home in Murrells Inlet, SC. Murrells Inlet is a working resort town with vast marshes. It is the center for fishing boats in the Myrtle Beach area and a developing resort community. Seth and Kelley's townhouse is in a complex two blocks from the marsh in a neighborhood with a lot of new construction. It only needed a bit of drywall work before they moved in which Seth and his friend did in great fashion! The Inlet's boardwalk and restaurants are a golf cart ride away and two state parks are within a mile of the house. Gretchen and I spent a couple of days helping to clean and organize. The operative word on the way home was "sore" as our bodies ached everywhere from head to toe. Congratulations guys on your new home at the beach!

Seth, Maggie, Kelley and Marley ready for a ride to the boardwalk.

Of course the highlight of our trip was seeing our granddaughter Maggie. She is a typical two year old; babbling always, in constant motion and a master of the word NO! Declaring NO and tantrums, although hard on parents, are what toddler's need to do to develop independence....and Maggie is right on schedule! She is a beautiful little girl. This trip Maggie warmed to her Grandmother and even tolerated her Grandpa at times so we making progress on that front! Hope to see you again soon Maggie!

Love to all!



Climbing in Roanoke

The day of a much anticipated ride in Roanoke arrived and we left Lynchburg knowing we would ride up Mill Mountain and then on to Roanoke Mountain on the Blue Ridge Parkway. After warming up for couple of miles on the Greenway, we headed up the old Mill Mountain Road, through its restored toll gate, past the huge stone house with the magnificent view and on to the landmark (circa1949) that gives The Star City its name. The climb was steady but not too steep; a most enjoyable ride if you were born to climb like we were.

Back on our bikes, we rode up the connecting road to the Parkway where a quick jog to the left set us on a path climbing the four mile Roanoke Mountain Overlook loop. The first half mile was pretty steep but the remaining mile and a half to the top was not a bad climb at all. We arrived in time for lunch, 1,253 feet higher than where we began with the temperature still tolerable.

Heading down the mountain, we pedaled on to the Explore Park with the temperatures rising and heat emanating from the pavement. We exited the Park through a back entrance and headed over the mountain to Roanoke. Resting at the top of the steepest hill we encountered on the day, I was thinking what a great ride this is....I hope we put it into our annual repertoire. However, with David in the lead, we started to pedal again when only a few seconds later, a dog jumped out of a yard a bit David! So the addition of this ride will depend on whether David can tolerate the idea of riding the mountain we quickly named "Dog Bite Hill" again. The good news is the dog had his shots, David had his shots, and the bite seems at this writing to be not too severe. Hope it heals well with no complications, David.

A quick descent down a long hill brought us back to the Greenway which we followed to the Wasena Tap Room (31 beers and 1 root beer on tap). David treated Gary and I to a hoppy pale ale from Georgia and after a half hour in the air conditioning, we headed back out into the 90 degree heat to ride the five miles back to the car completing the ride with over 2000 feet of elevation gain!

Great ride David! The only question that remains is whether your psyche will allow you to put an annual trek up "Dog Bite Hill" on our riding calendar?