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(Shepherd University campus -- where BRC begins & ends)
September — 2019 
by Anne C.M. Hyman

Happy September, Potomac Pedalers!

This turning of the calendar page is a big one – not only does September mark the autumnal equinox and with that event, some hopefully cooler riding weather, it also brings about the biggest month for the club. The countdown for the Back Roads Century is officially ON.

I had the pleasure of attending several planning meetings in August – over the phone and in person in Shepherdstown – and a few moments reminded me of the sheer gravity of this event not just for our club, but also the communities in West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland that our event routes reach. Meetings with our food safety liaison and Shepherd University Chief of Security demonstrated how seriously the area takes our event, with incredible efforts to make sure our riders are safe. With signs in town and on the roads, everyone in the area knows we’re coming and is preparing for our arrival.

Also, my meeting with century co-chairs Margaret McBride and Dalis Davidson and the Shepherd University event steering committee felt more like a presidential cabinet meeting, with forces from every corner of the university convening to ensure our riders and their community have an excellent experience during the weekend of September 22nd. Student groups will be greeting you at rest stops to make sure you’re well taken care of and cheered on. The SU catering crew is preparing a feast for riders upon their
return to campus from their day in the saddle. And, the university community is
welcoming us with open arms – after spending a few moments of respite on the Popodicon lawn, envisioning the after party to cap off a day well done, I started to buzz with excitement for our Century.

This is not to say that everything is done and dusted. After all, completing a century on two wheels takes a tremendous physical effort and planning, and none of that really stops until the final touch of the brakes is applied at the finish line. The same applies to the planning for the support provided to all of our Back Roads Century riders. I sincerely hope you are planning to ride with us on September 22nd. Have you signed up yet? If not, click on the link on the front page of the Potomac Pedalers website and do it NOW. Seriously, now. Because registration closes SOON. Go ahead and do it now, I’ll wait.

Know you won’t be riding but are looking for ways to help your club with the biggest event of the season? Volunteer! This event takes a tremendous amount of effort and energy to be safe and successful, and the more volunteers we have out there to help and represent our cycling club, the better our chances for a great event. Conveniently, you can also become a volunteer by visiting the front page of our website and following the link to register. Come back when you’re done! Is everyone back from Back Roads Century registration? Good.

As you all read in our last correspondence, we will be holding a special election at this November’s annual meeting, which is in two very short page turns of the calendar. More information and a save the date for the event are forthcoming. I cannot stress how important it is to be present to vote on the future of our cycling club. All of our member’s voices matter, especially in deciding how to ensure our club’s future success. A lot of conversations I’ve had with members this riding season have started with “Wouldn’t it be nice if..” Or “Do you think we could…”. If you feel strongly about something the club
should be doing to benefit all members, put your name in contention for one of the many positions open for election this fall. It means you will have a voice and a vote, two powerful things to wield to get motions granted and ideas turned into reality. You can do so by emailing Carol Linden , the head of our nominating committee.

The page is turned and the clock is ticking. Back to work to get ready for an exciting Autumn with the club
Be safe. Ride well.

Anne C.M. Hyman
Acting President, PPTC
VP, Special Events, PPTC
Rest Stop Coordinator, BRC

Just 21 days left for the Back Roads Century! We’ve extended registration until September 14 so there’s still time to join all the fun of riding on the rolling hills near Shepherdstown, WV. Choose from 25 miles - 100 miles with four rest stops to keep you going, serving food and drinks. We have four bike shops offering support this year, Element Sports, Eastern Panhandle Bicycle Company, Mt. Airy Bicycles and Spokes.

Enjoy a hot shower afterwards and mosey on over to the post-ride party at Popodicon on the Shepherd University campus. We’ll have a taco buffet to replenish you. Not one, but two bands will entertain you while you eat, chat and make new friends or visit with old ones. The Main Line Gravy Soppers play their old timey bluegrass tunes from 12–3 and the Channel Cats sing the blues from 3–6. 

Register here  
Volunteer here

The Back Roads Century Announces Tailwind Nutrition as On-Course Energy Drink for 2019

Potomac Pedalers is thrilled to announce that once again, Tailwind Nutrition will be on the course for our riders to fill their bottles with fuel and electrolytes to conquer their ride! Many Potomac Pedalers members already use Tailwind as their go-to source of hydration, electrolytes and fueling for their rides. Why? Because Tailwind provides a clean source of energy (no unpronounceable ingredients!) that is delicious and efficient. As a small business located in Colorado, Tailwind Nutrition created this all-in-one source of rocket fuel to take the guess work out of hydrating and fueling while eliminating gut bombs with a better source of calories, to help you get to your finish line. Look for the coolers marked with the Tailwind Stickers at the start line and your rest stops on September 22nd to fill up your bottles, and check our their other flavors and back story on their website .
by Anne CM Hyman
August 2019

Save the date for a fun weekend of gorgeous scenery on the road and at the Gardens in
Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania the weekend of October 19th! This trip was originally scheduled to take place in August, but riding bikes on the surface of Mercury before and after visiting the lovely conservatories and spaces of Longwood Gardens didn’t seem particularly enjoyable.

Instead, let’s have a cool (and cooler!) time while enjoying the foliage of Pennsylvania and Delaware. Rides and activities are planned for Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday morning.

Registration on the PPTC website will open soon. Interested in joining but have questions?

Interested in joining and also helping out? Contact Anne Hyman, VP Special Events at

The 10th Annual Larry’s Ride hosted by Bike Maryland will be held on Saturday, October 19th, from 7:00 AM-4:00 PM 2019 at Oregon Ridge Park in Baltimore County. Oregon Ridge Park is located at 13401 Beaver Dam Rd, Cockeysville, MD 21030-21030.

Larry's Ride is named for Larry Bensky, who was struck by a car and killed while bicycling on Butler Road, near Falls Road, in Baltimore County. Please help us raise awareness of cyclists, remember Larry and bring attention to the need for increased driver awareness on our roads in Maryland. More info about Larry's Ride can be found at

Riders have the choice between four challenging and fully supported routes through the beautiful rural Maryland countryside. You may choose a distance of 16, 26, 38, or 62 miles. Departure times vary and are based on the route selected, with cyclists riding the longer routes departing earlier. No matter which route you choose, come early and enjoy a cup of coffee and a bagel courtesy of Kismet Cafe of Sykesville Then join fellow riders for a post-ride celebration, a grilled lunch, craft beer, music and a full afternoon of socializing.

Entertainment provided by Harry Abramson.

Proceeds from Larry's Ride support Bike Maryland. Bike Maryland is the voice of cyclists in Maryland and is always working to improve and protect your right to bike on the local and state level ​ and improve the bicycling experience for everyone in Maryland through educational programs, legislative involvement and safety initiatives.

Bike Maryland would like to thank Larry’s ride 2019 sponsors; Benjamin F. Edwards, Meyers and Stauffer LC. A limited number of sponsorships are still available.
Registration is open. To register please click here or visit us at

“Hey, hey, hey — lock ready!
Oh, hey — hey, lock!
These words like the lock-house, covered in time
Live on for us in an old man’s mind
Never, no more, on the C&O Canal Line”
~ John Starling – The Seldom Scene

The Adventure Begins
On Saturday morning, July 13 th , we boarded buses at San Mar Children’s Home near Boonsboro. Our bicycles and gear were loaded up in separate trucks and we began our journey toward I-68 and downtown Cumberland, Maryland. So began the 2019 edition of The Great Bicycle Tour of the C&O Canal, a four day tour of the length of the canal.

After the scenic trip up and over Sideling Hill and the several mountains on I-68, the buses dropped us off near Canal Place in Cumberland. We unpacked our bicycles, donned helmets and sunblock and started the 184.5 mile journey down the historic C&O Canal Towpath towards Washington, DC.

Passing the historic canal boat Cumberland, our adventure had begun. There were miles and miles of smiles by all the riders on our way down to the historic Paw Paw Tunnel.

Bicycling the Canal Towpath
The C&O Canal Towpath is for the most part a double wide dirt trail that runs through forests and farmland usually alongside the Potomac River or within a mile of the river. Some parts of the towpath are very well maintained with new and improved surfaces. Other parts of the towpath are more rugged and contain muddy patches and occasionally rock or concrete surfaces. Riding the towpath comfortably usually involves fatter tire bicycles such as hybrids, mountain bikes or gravel bikes.

The towpath surfaces vary a good deal from Cumberland to Georgetown. The smooth packed clay or sandy surfaces near Georgetown or Great Falls tend to be more rugged west of Shepherdstown. Every few miles along the towpath the scenery changes ever so slightly. For a few miles, one can be riding along pasture land on a foggy morning with several deer alongside the trail watching you pedal by. A couple hours later, the towpath can morph into a path alongside the Potomac River or a scenic dirt pathway through secluded forests that amble by historic lockhouses and restored canal aqueducts.

There is also the extraordinary 3,118 ft. long Paw Paw Tunnel, which is a memorable adventure in itself. If you have not yet experienced the Paw Paw Tunnel, you are missing one of the most unique historic structures on the east coast. The Paw Paw Tunnel was begun in 1836 and completed in 1850. One enters a dark and slightly wet world where a headlight or flashlight is necessary. The canal runs through the tunnel and the towpath runs alongside the south side with a wooden fence separating cyclists from the canal. Go check it out! 

As a cyclist on the C&O Canal one enters an almost trance-like state after 30 or more miles. The trees, tweeting birds, turtles and frogs in the canal and the canopy openings to the river and to adjacent towns and villages transport your thoughts to another time and place. It is a great diversion from the daily grind at home, work or the office. Mile after mile, the path in front of your bicycle beckons you to keep going to explore what comes next and you want to experience the what the next town offers. 

Today’s C&O Canal
I last rode this San Mar event 25 years ago and I was very surprised at the new features I encountered along the C&O Canal in 2019. My first observation is that the towns and communities along the C&O Canal National Park have increasingly embraced the outdoor opportunities afforded by the canal. Cumberland, Hancock and Williamsport have constructed facilities specifically for the C&O Canal user. From nearby restaurants, new visitor centers, adjacent paved surface trails to new aqueducts with water and canal boats, these Western Maryland communities recognize the economic value of cyclists and other canal users.

A stop at the Visitors Center at the Cushwa Basin in Williamsport or at Buddylou’s Restaurant along the towpath in Hancock are highly recommended. These places are unique in Maryland and offer trail users opportunities to freshen up and refresh oneself for the miles that lie ahead.

What is TGBT - The Great Bicycle Tour of the C&O Canal?
The July 2019 TGBT was the 32nd annual benefit ride for former San Mar Children’s Home, which is now known as San Mar Family and Community Services.

The Great Bicycle Tour of the C&O Canal , (i.e., TGBT) is an annual completely inclusive four day bicycle tour of the 184.5 mile C&O Canal. It is designed and run for cyclists of all skill levels and ages. The volunteers and support staff from San Mar know every mile of the towpath and they design an cycling event for both tent campers and hotel users. They provide everything one needs from rest stops, SAG support to meals. All one has to do is pump tires, fill water bottles and ride. The average mileage is about 54 miles a day, although Day 4 from White’s Ferry to Georgetown is a little over 40 miles. On the last night of the tour everyone stays at a nearby hotel to celebrate the event and a community meal.

Having last participated in this ride in 1994, I truly believe that the San Mar staff have significantly improved all aspects of the tour. Everything runs like clockwork and the TGBT is truly one of the best run cycling tours I have ever ridden.

San Mar Family and Community Services
San Mar exists to serve children and youth who have experienced trauma in their young lives by connecting them with safe and caring persons and families. In San Mar’s Treatment Foster Care program, the positive aspects of the nurturing and therapeutic family environment are combined with active and appropriately structured treatment.

San Mar is also a licensed as an Outpatient Mental Health Clinic that serves the entire Washington County community. The Center offers care for diverse mental health needs, evaluation and treatment for children, adolescents, families and adults in the community.

Over the years, funds raised by San Mar through TGBT have been used for a variety of initiatives, providing computers, sending kids to camp, providing expressive art therapy, tutoring, furniture, and vehicles have been purchased and maintained for transporting the youth in care. San Mar serves members of the Hagerstown and Washington County community who are in need of essential community services.

TGBT 2020
The 33 rd edition of the Great Bicycle Tour of the C&O Canal will be held in July 2020. You are encouraged to come and ride through history and experience the history and timeless beauty of the C&O Canal National Park .
To learn more, explore the TGBT website and check back in late 2019 for information on the 2020 TGBT:

Click here to see the whole event photo album!
by Carol Linden
When I showed off my new Bianchi e-Aria – that is, an electric assist road bike – to a friend at a rest stop, he joked “you’ve broken the code”. In some ways this is true – I broke the code of judgment, silence, and frustration surrounding the notion that a “real roadie” would not ride an e-assist bike.
This past spring I did an Heart Cycle tour in Tucson, AZ. Four riders had e-bikes. One in particular stood out – it looked like a normal, drop bar road bike, with the motor in the rear hub and the battery in the down tube. The woman riding it was having a grand time. So was I, but I was working a whole lot harder at doing so. It got me thinking about “someday” getting an e-assist road bike, because I have long been frustrated by my inability to get up hills and mountains at anything but a slow crawl.
Fast forward to a short time later, when I saw an advertisement for the Bianchi e-Aria. I had already done some research on e-road bikes, and noted that all the major brands were coming out with them, with more joining the fray every day. When I learned about the Bianchi e-Aria, the pieces all fell into place, in no small part because Travis Evans, owner of our trusty local bike shop, JRABS, is a Bianchi dealer. I knew he could help me navigate this new path.

Now I am the very happy owner and rider of a shiny celeste Bianchi e-Aria. So what’s it like? For starters, yes, the bike is about 10 lbs. heavier than my regular road bike. But despite the extra weight, it rides like a dream even without the motor turned on. This bike is a “class 1” with a 250 watt motor, which cuts off over 20 mph and only provides assist when you are pedaling. No pedaling, no assist. There are 3 assist levels: 75 W, 150 W, and 250 W. On climbs of 5 – 10%, I can ride at about twice the speed that I can under my own power using either the lowest or middle level of assist. I’ve only resorted to the highest level for steeper pitches over 10%. The lowest level of assist is great for undulating terrain, when you encounter bumps of 3 – 5%. It’s like having the legs I wish I had been born with.

My challenge now is to understand how long the battery charge will last depending on the length and hilliness of a ride. Recently I completed the 61 mile route of the Tour de Frederick, which stayed in the relatively flat watershed; I had just over 50% battery power remaining. I estimated that I only used the assist about half the time on that ride, because there were long flattish stretches, and some downhills. On some other rides, I’ve used the assist more often and at higher levels, and ended with less battery charge remaining. So it all depends – on how much you use the assist, length of the ride, climbing, your weight, headwinds, etc. 

Did this bike turn me from a CC rider into an A level rider? Nope. Not even close. The way I’ve used the assist, I end up with overall ride averages approximately 2 to 3 mph faster than I would have under my own power. This difference can add up to finishing a ride from several minutes to almost an hour sooner than I would otherwise, depending on the ride length. I’m still working hard, but getting a little help on the climbs. At last, I’m no longer the lanterne rouge.

So, the code has been broken! If you are considering an e-assist road bike for whatever reason – injury or other issues - there are great options available now and more coming in the future. All I can say is that this bike has added much joy to my rides!