Brunswick and the Frederick Blues Fest.
I can't say I wasn't warned. When I asked if anyone wanted to go out to explore Brunswick, Alex said "I'm not sure I'd explore Brunswick on the fixie. As I recall, the town is basically one steep hillside."
Well, he was mostly right. Brunswick is hell on a fixed gear bike, but the visit was fun and challenging anyway. Getting down into town is relatively easy, and the first two streets parallel to the tracks and river are fine. But above that, not only do the North-South Streets run uphill, but most of the East-West ones are cut by many ravines and have super steep climbs as well. Besides that, most of them are stub roads off of the numbered avenues. For example, E Street has eight separate segments, off of Dayton, Maple, 2nd, 5th, 6th, Gum Spring, and 9th. A bit confusing when you are trying to ride all of them.
I parked at the High School and explored that neighborhood. The baseball fields and swimming pool were in full swing. Next I found myself rolling down to the lower part of town along the railroad and the river. Brunswick has a different vibe than any of the other communities I've been to in Frederick County. Maybe as a result of its working class river and railroad heritage, you really feel that you are in the foothills of the Appalachians here. Waving at a few people on porches and on the street, I didn't get many smiles, even when they waved back. I felt kind of weird.
The Festival in the heart of town dispelled that feeling. Lots of friendly folks braving he upper ninety degree temps to watch the bands sweat it out.
For once in my life, my plans worked out and I arrived just in time to see my friend Jimi's band, Ronny Ray and the Coolers, begin their set. Despite the heat they put on a great show, rocking away with their polished sound. Their set was about a hour long, and enjoyable for every minute of it.
After that I kept exploring a bit. First I headed west along the river to Knoxville. Guess what? I found hills. Then back, exploring more of Brunswick proper. Much climbing. I figured out right away I wouldn't be covering as much ground as I had hoped today, so I decided to try to cover town west of Rt 17. I got most of it including some killer hills. I mean killer both up and down. I walked some up, and if I hadn't had brakes on the fixie, there were at least two I would have walked down as well!
When I was just about completely out of steam (timely railroad euphemism) I found myself back at the Fest. A bottle of cold water and a snow cone (root beer, of course) went a long way to helping me recover. I had a nice chat with a Brunswick PD officer on bike patrol, and even loaned him my pump to add a bit of air to his front tire. Once I was cooled off I decided to head back to the car. The Bike officer had warned me that Maple and 2nd were both pretty steep hills, so I went down to Gum Spring Rd. Good choice, as it follows a stream up out of the river valley and was not too steep.
I think when I come back to finish the town I'll bring my single speed to make it a bit easier on myself.
Photos of the visit here.