Several weeks ago, I moved for the better part of the week away from DC. I had to come up with something to make the winter training more exciting. Rain, cold, snow, indoor trainer, early darkness, and 5 inches of layered clothing do not really get me motivated to ride my bike. So I hoped a change in scenery would do the trick.

I moved to Middletown, MD – a small town outside of Frederick with two and a half restaurants, one grocery store, two traffic lights, no traffic jams, no honking, and two mountain ranges – my new cycling hub.

Since Cascades Cycling Classic or Tour de Toona will not get any flatter, Middletown seemed like a great training place to face some vertical challenges and still being close to DC.

I have been riding here now for a while and made some interesting observations.

The area definitely has its quirks:

  • Weather: If it is 60 degrees in DC, it will be 50 in Middletown. If it rains in DC, it will snow in Middletown.
  • Cars: Either not existent or driven by cycling-friendly people. 90% of them are waving at you!
  • Dogs: well…they make you faster here in Frederick county:

What I was used to:

  • Monika passes house with dog in yard. Dog in yard sees Monika and starts barking, runs along the imaginary fence line, barks some more, gets bored and turns around.

What I have to get used to:

  • Monika passes house on 10% grade climb, panting profusely, German shepherd (you see the irony!!!) comes out, runs circle in yard, Monika face down concentrating on not falling over suddenly has dog gnawing on her ankle. Besides that German shepherd does not recognize he is attacking compatriot, he even managed to get stuck with his teeth in shoe covers. The water bottle came in handy.
  • A 11-25 cassette is good for 50% of the roads, the other 50% should be faced with either hiking boots or a 12-28.
  • Rides should not be measured solely in riding time or distance but in vertical feet. My goal is it to find the shortest routes with the most vertical feet of climbing. I welcome any route suggestions.

All the climbing training will hopefully get me some sort of ready for Arizona in December and January. Mount Lemmon, 34mi and 6600 feet of climbing! That would be either 6 times Lambs Knoll climb or 23 times Old Anglers.

Riding in Frederick county is the perfect get-away for vertically challenging riding in a cycling-friendly and beautiful environment close to DC.