Delaware White Clay Metric Century

Tandem setting out on leg 20 of the ride (25-50km).

The day after riding a metric century, and I feel pretty good. This was my second 100-kilometer ride, and I’m getting better at them. The first took 9 hours (a lot of breaks!), and this time it took around five and a half. It’s somewhat easier when there are rest stops set up by the bike club, and you stop at a designated point and only then. Aside from pulling over to have a sip of water or have a quick stretch. Neil and I are counting this as Neils on Wheels IV, even though it’s a larger ride organized by the White Clay Bicycle Club in Delaware. (Neils on Wheels III was a warmup ride the day before, by Neil’s house.)

It’s very different riding with a large group, and this was my first organized group ride of any sort. It’s more of a structured ride, which makes for a more disciplined attitude to riding. The first metric I did was a 50-mile ride with a friend a few weeks back (Neils on Wheels II) , where we met at the trailhead. Riding to and from from the train station brought my distance for the day up to 100km. 100 kilometers on a bike sounds like a lot to ride, and it’s certainly not a to be undertaken by a noob biker without some training. (Go here if you need this in miles.)

Cyclists at the 25km rest stop in the middle of the first loop of the doublecross metric.

The ride was divided into four parts of 25 kilometers. The first two combined made up “loop 1”, which took us north and into Maryland for a few minutes, then back around in a rough circle. We ended up at the starting point, a high school, where we had a quick lunch before getting back on the road. A map might make this clearer:

DE Doublecross Metric 1 July 2007DE Doublecross Metric 1 July 2007

It was mostly a flat ride, although the hills seemed to get harder as the ride went on. That really has more to do with me than the terrain, I suspect; looking at the elevation profile, the hills did get a little steeper near the end, but not by much. (The bottom of the map is a link, you and poke around there if you want to see more about the route map.)

There were a lot of tandem bikes, and I spotted one fixed-gear bike. We ended up at the high school we started at, where we had a quick lunch before getting back on the road.

The ride was all on local roads, mostly long, straight county roads or major town streets, but staying away from congested areas. The areas we went through are mostly farmland.

I couldn’t have fathomed it if I’d been told a few years back that I’d be riding these kind of distances. I’m proud of this, and very happy I can pull it off. Best of all is to see how I get better with each long ride. Thea “covered bridge” metric century in Lancaster this August if going to be fun! It’ll have less traffic, but more hills. Mmm, hills…

Myself, Henry, and Neil, after finishing the ride.

And thanks again to Neil, and Henry for shuttling me around, and to Martha for meeting them halfway and driving several hours to meet them halfway. And thanks to Henry’s rad hitch bike rack. I think the purpose of SUVs is to transport multiple bikes.

In the car, going home over the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

(Click on the pictures for more information and a bigger version.)

Originally published in the newsletter of the White Clay Bicycle Club.

Neil Fein is a freelance editor who specializes in novels. If you’ve written a manuscript or are getting close to finishing, you can get in touch with him here. He rides his bicycle as much as he can, and he paints and draws when he can. He’s also a musician who plays in a Celtic fusion band.


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