Father's Day mountain bikers have plenty of good, clean fun


June 21, 1999|By Sally Voris | Sally Voris,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

FATHERS AND OTHERS fairly slid down the course yesterday in the Father's Day Frenzy Mountain Bike Race.

It was messy -- a far cry from course conditions that prevailed on picture-perfect Saturday, when some riders took practice runs.

Yesterday, riders had mud from the soles of their feet to their ears by the time they crossed the finish line in the annual event at Rockburn Branch Park in Elkridge.

A complement to the Mother's Day Mauler, a bike race that was then held in the McKeldin area of the Patapsco Valley State Park, yesterday's event could have been called the Mudder's Day Ride and Slide.

Ellicott City resident Terri Paddy, recreation coordinator for the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks, has organized the event for the past three years. The race attracted about 150 riders, including Paddy's son, Jimmy Vale, 8, who raced with his buddy, David Sawyer, also 8. Both are entering the third grade at Ilchester Elementary School.

The race used the park's 5-mile loop trail. The course features a grass start, rolling hills and open trails, followed by a wooded single and double track expected to be fast. It was anything but fast, though, for bikers who had to cross streams and climb several moderately steep hills.

Everyone fell, said Charlie Morar, assistant manager of the county Recreation and Parks' Eastern Region, who "ran a sweep" of the trail after each race, making sure everyone survived. The wooden bridge was especially slippery, he noted.

Cyclists were supposed to ride three or four 5-mile loops, but even those entered in the expert category limited their pedaling to three laps.

Ben Thistle, 14, a soon-to-be ninth-grader at Howard High, rode in the junior group but finished with a time that ranked him with many of the adults. The course, said Ben's father, Mark Thistle, was "basically one big pile of mud."

The father from Columbia spent the day with Ben and younger son Noah, 11, who also rode. But Dad stayed out of the race, under a large umbrella.

Terri Paddy is preparing for another race to be held in the park on July 11 -- the "Brooks Muddy Buddy Ride & Tie." Paddy expects about 200 teams to participate in the event.

Information: 410-313-4705.

Dancing back in time

Many think of the Civil War years as a time of "blood and mud," says Lawrence Keener Farley, adding: "It was also a time of grace and beauty, candlelight and dancing."

The Victorian Dance Ensemble demonstrated the latter this month in an interlude before the performance of "Dear Old Patapsco" at the Patapsco Female Institute

Farley, of Harrisburg, Pa., the group's dance master, explained 19th-century dances to the audience and called dances.

Dancing of the period featured frequent changes of partners, many slow, elegant moves and time for pleasant conversation.

About 10 couples danced waltzes, polkas and quadrilles (for four couples) at the June 12 performance.

The women wore fitted cotton dresses with gathered skirts, yokes or sleeves, piping and other fine detail. The dresses were adorned with lace, ribbons and pearls. The hoop skirts swished as the dancers moved slowly and gracefully. Many wore cameos at their throats. Most wore their hair in buns. Some wore lace caps or snoods, a netlike cap.

The men wore wool jackets and trousers; some wore vests of brocade and velvet.

All wore white gloves.

They danced a Spanish waltz and a polka called the "Gay Gordon." They danced to a version of "Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms," a classic tune with the wistful lilting sound of a music box. The words evoke sentiments of an earlier time:

"Believe me, if all those endearing young charms, which I gaze on so fondly today/ Were to change by tomorrow and fleet in my arms, like fairy gifts fading away/ Thou would still be adored as this moment thou art, let thy loveliness fade as it will/ And around the dear ruin, each wish of my heart would entwine itself verdantly still."

After the dancing, young girls in Victorian-style dresses depicted the life of 19th-century students at the Institute in the drama, "Dear Old Patapsco." The script was taken from diaries and journals of students who attended the school.

Lynne Sigler of Halethorpe played headmistress Almira Hart Lincoln Phelps. She described her students as "buds" who "blossomed into womanhood" under the nurturing care of the school.

Some of the young actresses wore off-the-shoulder Victorian-style dresses. Phelps wore black. The two other teachers wore severely modest dress.

The white stucco walls of the old school's ruins framed the scene. The granite structure, supported by painted Mediterranean-blue steel beams, was open to the sky. Storms threatened all evening. Trees and gray clouds were visible through the window openings. The trees rustled and moved with the breeze.

Birds fluttered and twittered over the actresses. Trees of Heaven (ailanthus) bloomed around the building, filling the air with musky scent.

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