Tag Archives: Codorus State Park

The Man with the Hammer – Part I

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.

Cross-Check Loaded up and readied for the charge
Cross-Check Loaded up and readied for the charge

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.

The Bike Hobos
The Bike Hobos in rakish headwear

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.

Bridge is out
The Bridge is out

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.

One Reactor still running, the other one... not so much.
One Reactor still running, the other one… not so much.

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.

The Bike Hobos Soldier On
The Bike Hobos Soldier On

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!

The Man with the Hammer had come for me.
The Man with the Hammer had come for me.

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.
Discontinuity…
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 Made It!
We Made It!

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.

Codorus s24o

I went on another s24o with doc and sloth this weekend. We met up at Doc’s house and threw our bikes and camping supplies in the back of his truck for the ride down to the YHRT trailhead.

Around this time I remembered that I had forgotten my tarp poles. Not really a big deal, I assumed I could find a few sticks in the campsite to set up my tarp with.

So, we rode down the YHRT, stopping at Serenity Station for some lunch.

Me riding my bike

After lunch, we had a few more miles of rail trail before turning off into the real world. I was a little nervous about this part, because I was the one who mapped out the route to the campground, and I did so without any real knowledge of the area. I just looked up the topography view on gmaps, and tried to steer us around any big hills, while simultaneously keeping us off busy roads. Luckily, I was pretty successful. We had a few hills, but nothing horrible. Traffic was also pretty minimal until we got close to the campsite.

The route from the rail trail to the campground

A few miles before the campsite, we had some weather. It rained on us for maybe the last 2 miles of the ride, but once we got to our site in the “Timberdoodle Roughin’ It Area” of the campground, it had mostly stopped.

We decided to pitch our shelters before making dinner, in case it started back up again.

As I had forgotten my tarp poles, I had to make a little expedition into the woods to look for some sticks. The only sticks I could find were a little on the thin side, and a wee bit rotten, but they only had to hold a few pounds of tension, so I guessed they would serve.

My tarp, setup with rotten sticks

After dinner, sloth poured a small vial of olive oil into his little cook pot. He lit up a second Esbit tablet when I asked him what he was up to. “popcorn!” He said. He was going to try to make popcorn over an Esbit tablet. It was the wackiest thing I had heard all day, and I was not optimistic about the odds of successful popcorn popping.

I was wrong. It did work, and the popcorn was pretty good. Luckily, Doc snapped a photo of the popcorn with the still-burning Esbit stove to document this achievement, as nobody would have believed it otherwise.

Popcorn over an Esbit stove

After dinner, we had some festive beverages, and a bit of conversation before turning in for the night.

About an hour after bedtime, it started raining. Hard. It rained pretty much all night long, which was kind of nice, because it chased the bugs away, and I was having some insect issues in my open tarp.

Just before dawn, I had to get up the answer the call of nature. I noticed that my tarp was much closer to my face than it was when I went to sleep. Nylon stretches when it gets wet, so the whole tarp had lost a good bit of tension and there was water pooling in some of the low spots.

As I was walking back from my trip to the potty, I briefly considered tightening things back up, but I figured we would be getting up for breakfast soon anyhow. Then, calamity struck! I tripped over one of the guylines, and one of my rotten little sticks snapped in two! The whole tarp came crashing down, dumping water all over my camping gear.

I therefore decided it was time to get up. I got my breakfast sorted out, and my camping compatriots were stirring soon thereafter. We were underway in a stiff drizzle by 8:00 or so.

We returned to Serenity Station for a second breakfast, and made the final push up the rail trail towards York.

At around the 50 mile mark, I was feeling pretty tired and lightheaded. Then I beheld a truly amazing spectacle. A penguin had waddled out onto the trail maybe 100 feet in front of us. This was very disconcerting, because penguins are not indigenous to this part of Pennsylvania. I asked my companions what manner of animal that was up ahead. They reported that it was a cat. It still looked like a penguin to me, but in a few seconds, it changed direction, and then I could see that it was, in fact, feline. A black and white feline, but a feline to be sure. I don’t know if I was just really tired, or if maybe Serenity Station puts hallucinogens in their breakfast omelets.

At any rate, we were soon back in downtown York, covering a total distance of 55 miles for the weekend.

Despite the rain, the tarp failure, and the hallucinatory penguins, it was a lovely time. I can’t wait to do it again.