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Checkout for Woodbine Wallop

By Bill Beck

I started the checkout ride (Nov. 19) for the Woodbine Wallop a little after 4 a.m. on a Sunday, so the initial miles from Woodbine to the Dickerson Market at mile 26.7 were dark, and being a Sunday, the Market was closed at that early hour. But riders on the main event will be able to stop there for snacks, or even a nice breakfast ( There was a road closure in Clarksburg that required adding a detour to the route, but that detour is almost the same length as the original, so is not a problem.

From Dickerson, the route headed to the Monacacy Aqueduct, along the C&O Canal towpath. You may want to stop and admire the massive construction of this stone aqueduct, which is so sturdy that the Confederates tried, but failed, to blow it up during the Civil War. After 2.4 miles of smooth gravel along the towpath, the route headed north to Adamstown, where riders can resupply at Stups Market at mile 35.5. From there, it’s only a few miles to where the route crosses US15 and begins the first big climb over Catoctin Mountain.

The last few hundred yards to the summit at Mar-Lu Ridge is a steep 15% grade, but then riders are rewarded by a beautiful view of the Middletown Valley as they descend the other side to Jefferson, which has other convenience stores for resupply. The route from there across the valley to South Mountain is anything but flat, with several big rollers that lead to Burkittsville and the second big climb up Gapland Rd to the only monument to war correspondents at the summit. If you haven’t seen it before, stop and admire the quirky design. This area is also known as Crampton’s Gap, and was the site of intense fighting in 1862 during the Battle of South Mountain that preceded Antietam.

After a zippy descent off South Mountain, the route has an even nicer descent through the woods on Burnside Bridge Rd. If you look carefully to the left as the route passes near Antietam Creek, you can briefly see the famous Burnside Bridge that played a major role in the Battle of Antietam. A short while later the route enters Sharpsburg and follows one of the few flat sections to Shepherdstown, WV, at mile 60.9. The cued route leads to the intersection of Duke St and German St (left)/Martinsburg Pkwy (right). I strongly advise that you go left to the Shepherdstown Sweet Shop, which has delicious pastries and sandwiches. But if you are in a big hurry (why?), you can turn right to the Sheetz.

After returning to Sharpsburg on the same road on which you came to Shepherdstown, and passing the Antietam National Cemetery, you will eventually reach Reno Monument Rd, where you start the third, and what is probably the toughest, climb of the day. The top of this section is somewhere around 17%. The rip-roaring descent down the other side leads to the South Mountain Creamery around mile 73.7, just after the right turn onto Bolivar Rd. It may be a little cold for ice cream on Dec 2, but they are open after 12pm on Saturdays. If you don’t stop there, other food is available a short while later in Middletown at either the Main Cup or Subway, at mile 77.3.

It's hard to say where the climb back over Catoctin Mountain begins since you will trend uphill almost the entire way from Middletown to the summit, but the more continuous climbing begins around mile 80.7. There is a false summit and main summit, before a fast and straight descent down Shookstown Rd. The next miles across the north side of Frederick are flatter than what you’ve just experienced, but be careful. Part of Christopher’s Crossing around mile 86 had the right part of the lane blocked with cones, leaving only a narrow lane for cars and bikes to coexist. Also, be careful not to turn left at the first Walter Martz Rd that you pass at mile 87.2, and instead wait for the Walter Martz a short while later at the traffic circle.

The next resupply opportunity is the 7-Eleven in Libertytown, where I stopped, at mile 101.1. The final opportunity is the 7-Eleven control in New Windsor at mile 111.7. After that, the hills resume in earnest for the final 17 miles to the finish, and provide your final opportunity to pedal up a 15% grade.  But after the left turn onto Old Frederick Rd, you can enjoy a 1.5-mile descent to the finish, where I will be waiting inside at Tony Locos Bar & Restaurant. The club will supply appetizers, and you may want to order dinner to start to resupply all of those calories that you burned completing the Woodbine Wallop. Hope to see you on Saturday, Dec 2.

Who We Are

DC Randonneurs sponsors long-distance cycling events in the Mid-Atlantic region ranging from 100 kilometers to 1,200 kilometers (60 - 750 miles) in length. Rides start from the Baltimore-Washington region but travel as far afield as State College PA, Buchanan VA, and Warm Springs WV.

The terrain we ride ranges from the flatlands of the Eastern Shore to the rolling hills and valleys of the Piedmont and the sometimes steep flanks of the Appalachian mountain ridges to our west. Our routes, many of which we've ridden for years, take quiet back roads through gorgeous and varied scenery, with regular stops for supplies and rest.

Our rides are unsupported. There is no sag wagon, and help of any sort can be miles away on some of the more remote stretches of road we ride. But we ride together, creating bonds of friendship and camaraderie along the way. Our ride organizers and volunteers work hard to make sure that every rider is accounted for, from start to finish.

Our rides are timed, with riders required to reach intermediate control points, as well as the finish, within a set window of time. But our results are listed alphabetically. Our style of riding is know as allure libre, meaning riders ride at their own pace within the limits set by control opening and closing times rather than riding as a group at a steady pace set by its leaders, which is the audax style of randonneuring.

Randonneuring is non-competitive, but we challenge ourselves and each other -- to ride farther, to ride faster, to ride longer than we might have though possible. We aspire to relentless forward progress but take time to help each other when in need, whether that need is for emotional support, an energy bar to cure a bonk, or a cleverly improvised fix to broken equipment.

DC Randonneurs is affiliated with Randonneurs USA and operates according to the rules promulgated by that organization by adoption from the Audax Club Parisien.

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