The Wild Goose Chase is an annual bicycle event for women. A fundraiser for the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge, Maryland,the Chase brings women in from all over. Enough of them travel a long enough distance that over the years, the ride has evolved into an entire weekend. Last year my riding partner then (Brenda) and I went down the night before. However, the local volunteer rescue squad's siren erupted with enough regularity and volume that I felt like I hadn't slept at all. Based on that experience, Betty and I decided to meet at her house and leave by 6am. I figured if I was going to lose sleep, I'd do it by getting up early rather than paying for a hotel room in which sleep was impossible.
When I awoke at 5, it was not an auspicious beginning to the day. It was still very dark and ... rainy. Still, I grabbed my breakfast, my bag (with several different riding clothes combos so I could be ready for whatever we encountered), loaded my bike and went to Betty's house.
We were on the road in no time and had a nice drive down there. By the time we got there, it was about 8:15 ... but NO RAIN. It was still very overcast, so we both dithered a little over what to wear. I decided against my Babes on Bikes jersey, but you can see Betty represented us quite well!
The Refuge is administered by the National Park Service...so you know what that means in terms of the first rest stop. Right, it was closed. Many of the women who plan to do this ride arrive on Friday night so they can do some short rides with a guide in the refuge area. There are also kayak tours. Of course, the partial government shut down cancelled all that.
In addition,the rains and the wind had been so severe in the area that the two longer bike routes had to be changed. This map shows how an entire loop had to be cut off. Instead we doubled back on the part where you see the double orange line.
When we reached the first rest stop, they had yummy sandwiches, fruit, and chocolate. If I had known what was ahead, I would have eaten more chocolate!
Heading back up Golden Hill Rd, we encountered a wicked headwind. Our average of 14mph dropped to about 10. Betty's sinuses were bothering her, and she was apprehensive about the wind gusts throwing her into the drink so she unclipped. That slowed her down further. I just hunkered down and gave myself a mental picture of pushing from the very back of my hip joints. I stayed clipped, too. At any rate, I was soon far ahead so when I reached the parking lot shown above, I pulled off to wait for her.
In this parking lot was a wonderful older gentleman whose joy it is to watch the bald eagles in the area. He had a telescope set up on a tripod and was offering to let us see what he was watching. There are several nesting pairs that live in the area, and his telescope showed them to us up close and personal. One was in the trees on this island.
While I was watching, he took flight and soared around. The winds were so gusty he merely twitched a feather here and there and demonstrated no real effort as he let the winds move him. He landed on a nearby utility pole. By then Betty had joined me, and three other women rode up. The eagle just hung out as if to say, "I know I'm the show." It was so cool. Betty and I also asked the other women to take a photo of us together.
We paused at the small bridge across the causeway where we had seen men crabbing earlier. It was a good place to pause again and collect our breath. This is what they showed us.
They said this one was a little small, so they'd be tossing it back in. They were using nothing more than a chicken leg bone tied with a string.
That nasty headwind stayed with us more or less for the remainder of the ride. When we left the open water part of the refuge, it backed off a little. We passed a Historical Marker dedicated to Harriet Tubman. This was the area from which she originally hailed. Betty and I looked around the landscape and tried to imagine traversing it at night in bad weather. It gave us a new appreciation for the risk Harriet Tubman took for others' freedom. The historical marker said she made 13 trips back to Maryland to free others.
When we finished the ride, we had done just short of 40 rather than 42.8, but Betty was DONE due to the wind. I thought I could have gone longer. LOVE this new bike. In fact, I was having so much fun that I took some "selfie" photos while riding.
There was a little vendor fair with a great cycling clothing company. They design for real women, not just those who wear lycra, and for commuting and shopping. AND they manufacture in the USA. They're called aerotechdesigns and you can look at their products HERE.
And finally, there was a Cub Scout troop selling smoked turkey and smoked beef sandwiches. We had seen the dads putting them on the smoker as we headed out and yummmm. They were worth the small donation they asked. Oh my, they were good.
When I got home I rinsed my bike really well with fresh water -- especially important when you've been in a salt water environment, and called it a day. I was tired, but pleasantly so.
Today I awoke energized to take on another project, so I've spent the morning painting the inside of a closet that we had to empty so our contractor friend could get up into the lower attic's space to replace a radon fan. The paint job is far from professional but it IS finished. I used up some old paint and supplies, and cleaning the closet out forced us to go through the clothes and shoes to decide what we really "need" vs. "keep around because it's too much trouble to decide what to do with it." WIN!!