Ride Report: 11.22.10, HRT

One of the “minor” goals I had set for myself was to ride the length of the Heritage Rail Trail again this year.  I don’t use the HRT nearly as much as I used to because it gets a little boring, seeing the same sites, but I figure 2 or 3 rides a year aren’t bad, and the level grade allows for covering longer distances.

That level grade is a double edged sword, though; because it means pretty much no coasting, and the constant pedalling can take it’s toll on both the legs and the bumm.

Speaking of bumm, as I was unloading at Brillhart, I noticed that the VO saddle is slowly starting to break in.

Down around Hanover Junction I spotted some “Hedge Apples” that had fallen on the trail.  These are the fruit of Osage Orange trees.  In the 1800’s, these trees were imported to the area and used by farmers for hedge rows because of their prickly spines and tendency not to rot.  There aren’t a whole lot around anymore, but they can still be found.  The apples are a problem for farmers, because cows will eat them and get into trouble because they don’t digest well.  “Hedge” is also renowned for being the gold standard of firewood – its extremely dense and will burn hot and long.

I never noticed this before at Glen Rock, but they have a watering hole just for trail users.  Of course, it looks like you have to buy a beer or two if you want to use the ‘loo.

I spotted this area before and wanted to get a closer look.  Between Glen Rock and New Freedom, just past an area with rock walls on both sides, there is a prime spot for stealth camping.  The only drawback I could see is that the entrance is rather obvious; but I think when the leaves are up in the spring, the spot is completely hidden.

The rapids as you approach Monkton along Gunpowder Falls have got to be one of my favorite scenic riding areas.  Here are two shots that I stopped to take, as well as my first attempt at a video:

I didn’t see many people on the trail until I got into the southern half, closer to Ashland.  Then there were mostly elderly hikers, some lunchtime walkers, and a few bikes.  I noticed more bikes in the afternoon on the trip back.  Here is the end of the trail in Ashland.

I stopped briefly to shoot this more quiet picture of the creek.  Most of the way it tends to be more active, but at this spot, it slows to a more serene view.

The trip back is fine until north of Parkton.  Then the grade increases slightly, and for a pair of out of shape legs, it becomes a challenge to slogg back home.  I managed it with more frequent stops, and even getting off and walking about a hundred yards just to stretch my legs.

I stopped at Freeland to refill water b0ttles and change into a dry pair of shorts.  I had peeled off the tights once it had warmed up, but the sweat had already made things damp, and I could feel a saddle sore coming on.  Packing the extra pair was a smart move, as things immediately improved.  When I got to the state line, I stopped for a late lunch of oatmeal.  I must have been bonking a little bit, because after this meal and the twenty minute rest, I had a second wind.  I also need to mention that as I was eating, I was being serenaded by the sound of a high powered rifle not far away.  The owner must have been siting it in for deer season next week.

This last shot is near the high point of the trail, just before entering New Freedom from the south.  The view just caught my eye, and I needed to stop for another picture.

I was making great time until I got just above Serenity Station.  The bike started to get a little wobbly and I saw that the rear tire was losing air.  All I can figure is that I must have picked up a thorn or shard of glass or something from last week’s flat, and I failed to clean it out.  Now it had worked it’s way through the new tube.  Since I was a little leary about how much light I had left, I opted to stop every few miles and pump it up rather than change the tube.  It made for a tedious ride, but it worked none-the-less.

I pulled into the lot right at dusk, pretty tired, but satisfied after spending the better part of the day in the saddle.  I couldn’t do the last five miles because of no free parking in downtown York, but I probably didn’t have either the time or the energy anyway.

Distance: 74.6 miles  2010: 1239.5

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8 responses to “Ride Report: 11.22.10, HRT

  1. Nice pictures, sounds like a great ride. I have done the Paper Mill-New Freedom route several times, but starting from the Baltimore side. I do like the section with the falls just south of Dairy Mill at about mile 12. True story: on a ride in August, a friend of mine and I met an emu on that trail. We had four other cyclists as witnesses, none of us knowing what to do with a loose emu. Called 911 and sounded daft to the operator. Didn’t see it on the return trip, so I hope it got back home.

    • Emu? Now that’s funny. Your story reminds me that I was also chased by a big dog. He looked like he had lost his owner, and when he saw me from about 50 yards, he just laid down along the side of the trail. Then when I got to within 6 feet, he bared his teeth and jumped. It really caught me by surprise, but I managed to out-pedal him even though I was tired at that point. I remember getting all cold from the adrenalin rush and riding strong for the next ten minutes until it wore off.

  2. Reading this made me remember I wanted to go for a ride on the trail now that the summer crowds have worn off… Looked like a nice time.

    • Yup. It was nice to not be focused on “making time” or average speed. I stopped here and there to enjoy the views and take a break. Not too hot, not too cold, and a nice way to clear my head. Now I have it out of my system, so I probably won’t venture down again until Spring unless the family wants to do a hike near the falls.
      I suppose you could wait for some snow and give the Pug a workout!

  3. Reminds me of the first time I did the whole trail. I was doing pretty good the whole way down and the whole way back until I got to New Freedom.

    Due to inexperience….I ran out of food and bonked *hard*. It took me a couple hours to do the last leg as I had to use granny gear because I was so tired:-)

    • I find that eating on a long bike ride is a science in itself. I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel nearly as hungry until I actually bonk, and then I can only eat smaller portions or I get an upset stomach. How these brevet guys can sit down and eat a double breakfast is beyond me.

  4. Looks like a lovely ride, complete with a “micro-tour,” Pondero style.

    • That looks like a cool site. For those that are familiar with the spot at the state line, there is a small stream that runs right behind where I was sitting. If I had truly been roughing it, I suppose I could have packed the Steripen and filtered the water for my lunch.

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