Day 8 – Lancaster, PA to Hunt Valley, MD

62 miles, 1695 feet of climbing

Yesterday evening, route RAP was late starting in order for staff to debate today’s choice of route. There were two alternatives–5200 feet of climbing on public roads or only 1600 feet of climbing and much of it on “rail trails,” generally old railroad right of ways converted to pedestrian/cycling paths. Here the path was place alongside railroad tracks which appear to be used at last for train excursions.Our ride leader, Mike Munk, wasn’t thrilled by the trail option because it would be difficult for staff to provide the level of support we’re accustomed to. Roads criss-cross the trail but in some cases separated by several miles, making getting to us a challenge. And there was the potential for portions of the trail to be difficult to ride due to new or accumulated rain. The riders seemed to be universally in favor of the less-climbing option, though, and that was the final choice.

We started out from the motel in somewhat cooler weather than we’ve seen recently, with wet pavement. I wore my jersey and arm warmers and was on the slightly cool to comfortable side all day. It was, of course, humid. And if the sun made an appearance, I missed it. But no rain.

In a few miles we crossed the Susquehanna River, seen here from the middle of the bridge:

We worked our way over to York. Here is part of its downtown.

Shortly after the above picture was taken, we hopped on the Heritage Rail Trail, which was mostly packed gravel with helpful asphalt to ease the transition when the trail flipped from one side of the tracks to the other. There were a couple of spots where I walked around puddles (not sure what lies beneath) but it was quite passable. My front tire was picking up plenty of debris, which the top of my fork quickly rejected. No sneaking up on anyone with all that noise.

Shortly after New Freedom, we entered Maryland and the trail’s name changed to the Northern Central Railroad Trail. The first bit was quite technical, basically two strips of dirt just wide enough for two cyclists to pass each other. At times one of the strips was covered with mud, forcing a change into the oncoming strip. This being Sunday, there were many other pedestrians and cyclists to share the path with. Later the path widened. Pam and Judy eventually caught up to me. We made pretty good time down the remainder of the trail and a short stint on the road to the hotel.

Seen from the trail:

We’ve established that my bike likes ice cream. It also seems to attract dirt:

I don’t think I’ve every seen it this caked up. So cleaning up was one of the first jobs when I got to the hotel.

My crank-arm bolt came loose again today. It looks like it might be time to replace the bottom bracket. I located a shop in Washington DC that has the part and will be dropping the bike off tomorrow afternoon at the end of the ride. Then a day of rest on Tuesday. I’m going to have lunch with some cousins that I haven’t seen since the 70’s.