Repast at Rocco’s 200K Permanent: A Winter Ride that Felt Like Spring

Heading toward the stone bridge over the Monocacy River
Heading toward the stone bridge over the Monocacy River

With temperatures taking an unusual leap into the 50s this weekend, Felkerino and I committed to our first 200K distance of 2014, meeting up with a few others in Urbana, Maryland, on Saturday for the Repast at Rocco’s RUSA permanent.

Welcome to Frederick County
Welcome to Frederick County

Repast at Rocco’s (Ride With GPS track here) is an out-and-back 126.6-mile course that begins by see-sawing through some big rollers, levels out on valley roads through Frederick County, Maryland, and goes into Adams County, Pennsylvania, for lunch in East Berlin (at a pizza placed named Rocco’s, incidentally) before it turns to retrace the first 60-plus miles.

Looks like winter over there. Feels like spring where I'm riding.
Looks like winter over there. Feels like spring where I’m riding.

The rolling morning miles took us through some cold dips, and we pedaled cautiously over a few icy patches remaining on some segments the sun has trouble reaching.

One of the things I love about riding in Frederick County is checking out the old barns that pepper the countryside. Many are wood, and some are a brick and wood combination. More than a few have fallen into disrepair, but others still stand strong. Their weathered exterior intrigues and gives them vivid texture.

One of my favorite old barns on the route
One of my favorite old barns on the route

The warmth of the day enveloped us, but the countryside was still dressed up in winter. It was odd to be outfitted for a spring ride while winter landscapes surrounded us.

Roads were fairly calm, and sun and tailwind made for a fast first half of our 200K day. I was reminded of some sound advice my father imparted: take the headwind first. Why don’t we listen to our parents’ advice more often, I ask you.

While about 10 of us showed up for the ride, Felkerino and I spent much of the time by ourselves. Midway through the morning we met up with Tom, who was in the process of completing his 99th consecutive monthly ride of at least 200K, and rode and chatted together for a bit.

Riding with Tom
Riding with Tom

There was some serious talk about the direction the flags were waving and how the wind had picked up over the course of the morning, but I tried not to sweat the headwind blasts sure to come after lunch.

I rationalized that I would rather ride in sunny 50-degree temperatures with some spirited headwinds than spend my day doing a ride under threatening skies with no wind and temps in the 30s. See? Always a bright side to be found.

Bikes at Rocco's
Bikes at Rocco’s

We refueled on pizza at the 63-mile midway point and I mentally prepped for headwind headwind headwind. Inevitably, it battered us around for the next 30 miles, making talking difficult (What did you say?! What?!) and altering my mood so that I put my camera away and stopped looking around and taking photos. Oh Dad, I should have listened to you about taking the headwinds first!

Eventually we rode our way into more wooded segments and took favorable turns so that the wind was behind us or at least not directly in our faces. Yippee.

A look at the old stone bridge over the Monocacy River
A look at the old stone bridge over the Monocacy River

We also leap-frogged the last 30-plus with fellow rider Calista, which helped the miles pass.

This 200K is front- and back-loaded with hills, and the middle half is quite gentle. It’s an ideal winter century because you don’t sweat up too much on the uphills and then freeze going down. Steady rollers and gentle valley riding.

Calista during the last 10 miles. Bare legs and snow.
Calista during the last 10 miles. Bare legs and snow.

The ride profile says Repast at Rocco’s has around 5,500 feet of climbing, which really is not much for a ride of that distance, but it still tuckered me out by the end. I suppose that’s how you’re supposed to feel at the end of your first 200K of the year.

Sorry I don’t have any photos of the wind for you. I’m still working on ways to document that largely invisible beast that has such power over one’s ride. Sometimes it’s your friend and other times you can’t wait for it to go away (What?! What did you say?!).


  1. I just took a short ride out the W&OD … make longer by that darn headwind coming back. At times I felt like I was pedaling furiously just to stand still! But it was GLORIOUS to see the sun again.


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