Over the past few weeks here in the MD/DC/VA area we have had heavy rains move through that caused localized flooding. Not bad where we live, but where we may have gotten 2″ just a few miles away may have gotten 6-8″.
That happened earlier in the week but by Saturday there had been a few dry breezy days and I decided to do a favorite local ride, the “Express Train to Chesapeake Beach MD” – a 61 mile loop between the Chesapeake Bay and the Patuxent River. I checked the weather but didn’t check for road closures – as you can see from the photo, that was a mistake.
As I drove to the staring point at the high school in Harwood MD, I noticed detour signs for Sands Road. I would be on Sands Road for 6 of the first 10 miles, so I decided to drive the start and check it out.
Yup – road closed, but was it passable for bikers? I started walking down past the road closed sign and a man with a camera was coming back from doing the same thing. I asked and he said it was passable, other bikers were walking their bikes past the sinkhole and the construction equipment and no work was being done today. He added “I looked down in the sinkhole, there are 6-8 bikes and bikers down in there but none of them were moving, so you don’t need to stop…”
Drove back to the start and got going, about 5 miles in I walked the bike around the Road Closed signs on both ends of the closure (and ignored the faint moaning signs coming from the sink hole) and rode on.
Only to hit another Road Closed sign 8 or 9 miles later on tiny Pindell Road at a sharp downhill to a small creek bridge. Two guys were working on a mini-bike in their yard, supervised by their dog wearing a cone of shame, and they said bikes can get by. The dog tried to get under the fence to sniff me, but the cone of shame got him stuck while we all had a giggle.
That one was just a washout with much gravel, sticks and rocks but no obvious road damage.
About 25 miles later, after passing through Chesapeake Beach and North Beach with nice views of the Bay on a sunny, breezy day I hit the final road closure on the only direct road between North Beach and Fairhaven, my planned rest stop before the final 18 miles or so. This is a short stretch of essentially Bay-level road seperating the Chesapeake Bay from some wetlands and had major road damage that probably occurred weeks ago but once again was hike-a-bike-able around the piles of construction material.
The hike-a-bikes slowed things down but also reduced traffic on both sides of the closures – but these are all pretty low traffic roads, anyway. The last 18 miles had a number of gravel patches where there had been washouts but no more closures.
Rising Bay levels and warmer waters causing weather patterns to be more extreme have unfortunately made this a regular occurrence. The places that used to flood still do, but now there are many other problem areas.
This ride, like many others I do, spans multiple counties and neither of them have solid sources of current road closure info. Since there are very few formal groups rides due to the pandemic, don’t have the regular flow of info from club sites, either. Will have to add a bit more research time before rides down that way.