…When we last saw our hero, he was flat on his back, snoozing peaceably in the forest, wondering how he would ever summon the strength to ride his bicycle all the way back home, over hill and dale…
Morning found me in my tent. When I crawled out to attend to biological necessities, I noticed that my legs were a little sore, but not so bad as I expected after yesterday’s epic battle against the hills.
Maybe today would not be such a disaster after all.
I boiled some water for coffee, and soon the other bike hobos were up and about.
Before there is any breakfast, or any packing up of camping gear, or any conversation, there must be coffee.
I made Starbucks Via (instant) coffee, and it was pretty much OK. Sloth had some sort of drip filter, and made real coffee. I believe the bike hobo was also rocking the Starbucks instant.
I had a ton of cardio to do today, so I threw gastrointestinal caution to the wind, and ate two whole packets of instant oatmeal for breakfast. Shortly thereafter, someone started cooking bacon, and caused me to reconsider my entire nutritional regimen.
After breakfast, we broke camp, strapped all our junk onto our bicycles and made ready for departure.
We bid a tearful adieu to the bike hobo, and headed back to Harrisburg. Or at least we headed in a northerly direction. We hadn’t actually bothered to chart much of a course.
We looked at the google maps app on our phones, and hoped / guessed, that PA route 94 would give us a direct, flattish way home.
94 turned out to be a fairly major road, with no trees to shade us from the wicked day star. The hills were less traumatic than the ones the day before, but the traffic was horrific. We considered abandoning the road due to traffic, but kept plodding on. I do not recommend riding your bike on PA94, unless you have nerves of steel, and can hold a razor-sharp line. I don’t have any pictures of this part of the ride, because I was too busy trying to hold my line to mess with the camera. It wasn’t a great route, but we survived. We got off 94 somewhere outside of Dillsburg.
It was hot outside. The sun was roasting us alive, and we were almost out of water. We tracked down a gas station, where we refilled our bottles with water, and our bellies with Gatorade and ice cream.
I was starting to crack, but we only had 15 miles to go, and we were almost back to familiar roads. So, we powered on. We stopped for one last rest stop / photo op just outside Mechanicsburg.
We arrived back at our starting point to discover that Mrs. Sloth had locked Mr. Sloth out of the house. I was sympathetic, but I had my own Mrs. waiting for me at home — with food. So, I took my leave. On the drive back to my house I pondered the day’s adventure.
We had made it, and the Man with the Hammer did not totally destroy me like he did the day before. I attribute this to the following factors:
Shorter route with fewer hills
I ate a powergel every 10 miles whether I wanted one or not
There’s this Bike Hobo on the Google Plus who was going on a bike tour from Northern Virginia to Harrisburg and back.
Sloth and I loaded up our bikes, and joined him for the weekend. The plan was to ride to Codorus State Park as a trio, spend the night, and then part ways. The bikehobo would head south, back to Virginia, while Sloth and I would make our way back to Harrisburg.
The plan was for about 53 hilly miles to the park; my longest and hilliest ride ever; loaded down with camping gear. I was a little bit apprehensive about the difficulty of the route, but I had (barely) survived a 50-miler a few weeks ago. So, I assumed I would manage one way or the other.
I did not want to meet the Man With The Hammer out there in the middle of nowhere, loaded down with camping gear, and with two other people waiting for me. So, I provisioned myself with Power Gels, dried apricots, and other sugary sundries.
I joined company with my traveling companions at Sloth’s house Saturday morning. We posed for a picture, and headed off in search of adventure.
We rolled pleasantly through Camp Hill, and Lemoyne, but when we tried to leave New Cumberland, Route J had a detour due to a missing bridge.
The detour routed us over Resser’s Summit. Reeser’s Summit (as the name suggests) is a monstrous climb. Sloth and I got off to push, but our strange companion rode up the whole mountain with a compact double and a 60 pound touring load; making us look bad.
It was a strenuous ascent, even on foot. I ate some dried fruit. The Man with the Hammer would not get me today!
After our several miles of rolling terrain, we came to Goldsboro, where we had a spectacular view of the Three Mile Island Power Plant.
We decided we needed some lunch, and stopped at a pizza shop called Antonio’s. The pizza was pretty good, and they were cool with letting a bunch of bike weirdo’s sweat all over the place. They even let us refill our water bottles. Very nice.
Bellies full of cheesy goodness, we soldiered on — over rolling hills, past corn fields, and under the occasional shade tree.
Somewhere around York, I neglected to eat. By the time we reached Glen Rock, I was starting to feel lightheaded. The road pitched up to the clouds, and then plunged back down. This cycle repeated itself for miles.
Space and time began to run in melting ripples.
I climbed. I descended.
I climbed. I descended. He was coming for me.
I traveled through multiple dimensions of transcendental realities.
At the top of the hill, my companions determined that, due to some navigational confusion, the route was now 62 miles instead of the 53 we thought. The fabric of space-time was expanding to swallow me whole.
I was going to have my first metric century, whether I wanted one or not. Rockville road rose, and rose up, to kiss the face of the Sun. I was off the bike and pushing. At the top, we had to turn onto an even steeper road, and climb some more.
I turned, looked up Nafe Sawmill Road, and…
Oh God no!
There he was!
I tried to sit down along the road for a rest, but it was too late.
The Hammer dropped.
I was flat on my back in the freshly-mowed grass looking up at the clouds. Sunshine on my cheeks.
I remember thinking that this would be a beautiful place to die.
I closed my eyes.
I opened my eyes.
I got up, sucked down a powergel or two, and started riding.
Fructose in my veins, the pedals began to turn. Slowly, the road started moving beneath my wheels.
It was getting dark, but the last climb found us at the entrance to the campground.
By the time I got off my bike, I had my Metric Century.
We pitched our tents, made our dinners, sat around the campfire, told stories, and carried on for a few hours. It wasn’t very long before we all decided to call it a night.
I lay on my Therm-a-rest with a feeling of accomplishment at having finally gotten a metric century under my belt. I drifted off to sleep wondering how in the world I was ever going to ride my bike all the way back home in the morning.
I thought it might be nice to ride to the park and read a book. So, I loaded up my handlebar bag with my Kindle and a snack, and rode the 8 miles over to Adam Ricci Park. I found myself a nice bench, had a snack, and read some Sophocles (I’m still working my way through the Harvard Classics.)
I finished reading Oedipus and was feeling good, so I decided to ride on down to City Island before diving into Euripides. A bike ride is a nice way to clear your head between Greek Tragedies.
I got to City Island, but the whole park was full of noisy people, because there was a baseball game underway.
I can’t read the classics while the drooling masses are whooping it up, so I decided to cross the river and find a quiet park bench. Riverfront park was crowded, too, so I decided to just keep on going to Fort Hunter, and make a nice long day of it.
I didn’t bring along much of anything for lunch, so I stopped at a gas station, and scrounged up what I could.
I ate my strange lunch, and sat there looking across the river. My Garmin said I had come about 23 miles already. My all time longest ride is just shy of 50. I was still feeling pretty good at this point, so I decided to go for a few more miles and try to break my record.
About half way up the climb (and, coincidentally, at mile 25), was the nastiest, most overgrown cemetery I have ever seen.
The whole place gave me the heebie-jeebies, but I was exhausted, hot, and sweaty, so I sat down to rest – just outside the cemetery gate where the ghosts couldn’t get me.
I sat there for a while, but didn’t really feel any less exhausted, so I decided to get on with it. I had the 25 miles I needed, so I pointed the bike towards home.
Everything was ok until around the 40-mile mark where the road climbs up from the river. This is when things got miserable. I pushed down on the pedals, but the bike didn’t want to go. It was like pedaling through molasses. I had the presence of mind to realize that I was bonking, but my brain was getting muddled enough that I didn’t think to stop at a gas station to buy more food.
I geared down and spun; that worked for a while. Then I got off and pushed. That worked, too.
I eventually made it home, got some food and water in me, and sat down with my spiritual adviser to think about what went wrong.
My Garmin tells me I burned 5,000 calories on this ride. I’m guessing I ate maybe 1,000. So, I bonked.
I need to remember to eat and drink more next time, I guess. I’m going to have to figure this food business out if I want to go on rides much longer than 50 miles.
Suggestions are welcome.
On the plus side, I made it home under my own steam, and set a PR for longest ride in a day and one for most miles in a month.
I came up a little short on the weekly total, but I got the long ride in, so I’m calling it a successful week.
This week’s long ride was another Necronneuring™ adventure. I found another old cemetery in the Google maps satellite view that wasn’t on the map, so I rode out to investigate. Sloth came along on this one.
It was a dark and gloomy day. Perfect for a spooky bike ride.
After a great deal of dick-monkeying around, we got to the entrance to the cemetery. Unfortunately, the road was gated, and posted with “No Trespassing” signs.
A caretaker showed up out of nowhere and opened the gate for us. It was kind of strange. This gate is in the woods, out of sight from anywhere. I’m assuming he was real, and this isn’t some Scooby-Doo ghost story thing, because Sloth saw him too.
Anyways, we made our way up to the grave yard and looked around.
After a few minutes of walking around in wet grass, and breathing in the unwholesome vapours of the graveyard, we rode back down the mountain. Sloth brewed up some coffee to keep our spirits up.
After coffee time, we rode back across the river to the land of the living.
I had some minor mechanical malfunctions on this ride. I lost a fender mount, and seem to have picked up a few ticks, squeeks, and moans in the Cross Check. I have about 1600 miles on her since her last tune-up, so I guess it’s time to get the wrenches out and give her the once-over.
These rides are getting longer, and I really don’t want to have a total breakdown 30 miles from home.
We had some ugly thunderstorms Wednesday night, so I swapped out the Wednesday ride to Thursday. No big deal.
Thursday, I rode up a mountain and into the woods, while it was pouring rain the whole time, because I am a #rule9 bad-ass.
Then, we had heavy rain all day on Saturday, and #rule9 or no, I stayed inside and watched Doctor Who.
So, I did my long ride on Sunday.
I tried to make it to Fort Hunter last week, and that was my destination again. I rode down to City Island, topped off my water bottles and took this panorama of Harrisburg.
I fought a gnarly side wind coming off the river, but I eventually made it to Fort Hunter.
I had this view of Marysville (where I started). My house was only about 2 miles away (if I had a canoe), but because of how the bridges are set up, I had another 20 mile ride ahead of me to get back home.
I ate an apple for sustenance, and turned the bike back into the wind for the return trip.
When I got near my house, I had 39 miles for the day, so I made a loop around the block to try to break 40 miles.
I haven’t done a single ride over thirty miles in almost 3 years, so I wasn’t sure how my legs were going to hold up. But, I did ride about 25 miles one day last week. So, I figured 30-35 miles should be doable without too much trouble.
I headed out with Fort Hunter in mind as a general destination. I was thinking that would be about a 35 mile out-and-back.
Somehow, I miscalculated the distances, and found myself farther from home than I wanted to be, in a residential neighborhood, with a full bladder. I pushed on a little farther, and made it to the Wildwood Lake restroom facilities with only seconds to spare.
I had a snack and decided that Fort Hunter would have to wait for next week. I was running out of time, and needed to turn back.
(There are more photos from this adventure in the Gallery)
I ended up with 36 miles for the day. That puts me somewhere between weeks 4 and 5 on the training plan.
I’m a little sore today. Surprisingly, its mostly lower back, and not legs. I’m not sure if I have a bike fit problem, or just terrible core strength. (Probably terrible core strength).
At any rate, I’m going to ride week 5 of the plan this week, and see how things go.
Sloth and I did our annual fall s24o this past weekend. I was not feeling up to large amounts of miles or hills, so we decided to rail trail it. Stony Creek, to be specific. Sloth was feeling adventurous, and rode the whole way from his house. I drove to the rail trail to meet him.
When I pulled in, this is what was waiting for me.
Pipe smoke and spandex. What a sight.
We mounted our steeds, and made our way down the trail. This trail is is rough shape. It’s really more like tame double-track mountain biking than a rail trail. Fallen leaves were hiding big rocks, roots, and mud puddles. So, it was a little rougher going than you might expect from a rail trail. But we soldiered on for 8, er 10, er 13 miles or so. (There was some confusion as to how far we were going before turning off into the wilds).
At times, the trail had the look of an infinite tunnel through the wilderness.
After what turned out to be 13ish miles, we made a sharp left, dismounted and shoved our loaded bicycles up the side of the mountain, in search of the Appalachian Trail Shelter.
We found it, but it was occupied.
So, we kept hiking and found a nice tent site a little ways past the outhouse. The skies threatened rain, but I came prepared with my trusty Quarterdome.
After camp was set, we made some dinner. I brought along some Backpacker’s Pantry Wild West Chili. I am sorry to report that I can not recommend that anyone eat this stuff. It was foul, but it was all I brought for dinner. I choked it down, not wanting to leave any to attract the bears.
After dinner, we hung the bear bag, and lit a candle lantern. It had to serve in lieu of a camp fire, since there wasn’t much dry firewood about, and neither of us were in the mood to seek any out.
We sat around the candle, and discussed many topics of great interest to learned gentlemen such as ourselves (politics, bicycles, etc). All the while, I was swelling up with an epic, legendary case of chili-induced flatulence the likes of which the world has never seen.
It didn’t take long before we decided to call it a night.
I slept quite comfortably in my tent. I was inconveniently forced out into the bracing night air numerous times during the night to make water. I suspect it had something to do with the 1600mg of sodium I had with my dinner.
Every time I woke up, I was convinced that I was directly down-wind from the AT outhouse, but it eventually dawned on me that I, myself was the source of the offending aromas. I opened the ridge vents in my rain fly. Thereafter, I was able to sleep peaceably until morning.
After morning coffee, Sloth attempted to fry bacon over a pepsi-can stove. Frying things is generally not considered to be one of the use-cases for a pepsi-can stove, but it actually worked out pretty well. I sampled a slice of the bacon, and can vouch for the efficacy of this technique.
Of course, frying bacon leaves bacon fat, and what better use for bacon fat than the poaching of eggs?
All this, over a simple pepsi-can stove! Amazing.
Shorty thereafter, in acute digestive distress, I took refuge in the AT outhouse. While there, with plenty of time to sit and meditate on deep and profound thoughts, it occurred to me that my approach to mountain cookery might be misguided. Freeze-dried astronaut dinners might not be the best plan, after all.
This matter will require further study.
In any event, the rest of the trip went more-or-less as planned. We rode back to the trailhead in a chilly drizzle, drove to five guys, and stuffed ourselves silly on burgers and fries.
It was a good trip, despite the rain, cold, digestive difficulties, etc. This is our fifth year of doing this trip, and I suspect we’ll do it again next year, too.
We stopped around the halfway mark to brew up some coffee. Sloth had a new coffee filter he wanted to try out, and I had a new stove that I wanted to play with.
I had an entire pannier’s worth of coffee brewing accouterments. Stove, fuel bottle, extra water, pot, french press, etc. It all adds up to a lot of pannier space, but was well worth it.
Due to some miscalculations while lighting the stove, I ended up with a small fuel spill, and a gigantic ball of flame. This seemed to amuse / horrify the joggers and dog-walkers who were passing by.
Nonetheless, we had our coffee, and it was good. Personally, I think coffee / tea breaks should be mandatory on any ride over 15 miles when it’s less than 50 degrees out. Anything less would be uncivilized.
Fortified with caffeine, we soldiered on through the gigantic traffic disaster of the Farm Show. We made a few wrong turns (the signage on the Greenbelt is a little spotty), and ended up with about 21 miles — my longest ride for the week/month/year!
The new year appears to be off to a good start, and ambitious plans for a multi-day tour are already underway.