My strategy has been to look at the next day’s route just the night before. No point in worrying about a ride that will take place days or weeks away, right? So when I gloated in the blog about the ride from Cumberland to Hancock that I had completed the last mountain climb, I’m betting that my good friends at RAAM were all snickering, but also politely maintaining radio silence.
As it turns out, what I didn’t know was that today’s ride had one more mountain. Worse, it had two killer uphills. One was near the beginning. It was the steepest hill I have encountered on the entire route – 15%. For a few feet, it relented and I stopped to get my heart rate down and my breathing calmed before finishing it. The second killer hill was about 13%, but I didn’t get into my granny gear in time, a newbie technique error. At one point, I could neither shift into my granny gear nor go forward so I had no choice but to yank my shoe out of the clip and stop. I was not going to be defeated by that hill. I spotted a bit of a driveway to my left. I walked the bike across the road and aimed it so I’d have the slightest bit of downhill to try to get enough momentum to shift into my granny gear. It took three tries, but I finally got it and cranked up that hill. The mountain came later and it was not especially different from other mountains I had done with a 6 -8% grade. It was followed by a delicious downhill. Here’s the video.
It was a social cycling day with both lunch and dinner plans with friends. Susie was sagging with Harriet and we were to meet Harriet’s mother in Greencastle for lunch. We had selected a Chinese restaurant. Susie waited at the roundabout and pointed it out to me and I cycled over to it. Though the “Open” sign was on, the message on the door said it opened at 4 PM on Mondays. I waved like crazy to the sag car and Harriet saw me in the nick of time. I gave them the news and tasked them with finding another place. They called shortly and told me to go to B Street 104 Restaurant and Pub. I got there quickly but couldn’t find the entrance door. Thinking it might be closed as well, I looked it up on my phone. I was standing in front of the building and my phone told me it was 2328 miles away. I looked some more and finally went in a hotel entrance. There was the pub, quite a nice one. The hostess looked me up and down in my cycling clothes. I offered that the other three people in the party would be dressed more appropriately.
The four of us gathered and perused the menu. I had no fewer than four vegetarian options for lunch — unheard of! During lunch, I needed something from the car. A fellow was putting up letters on a marquee right next to the car. He volunteered, “I’m going to find the owner of the building. He’s a cyclist.” Expecting the unexpected now, Brian, an enthusiastic and avid cyclist appeared at our table and we had a delightful conversation about the route, about cycling, bikes, where we were headed for the night, etc. Then he said, “Let me call my friend and see if he’s in town.” Bob appeared a few minutes later and the conversation continued. Before we knew it, between Brian, Bob, and Kevin, the guy who was working outdoors, they had upgraded our hotel in Rouzerville to a really nice one, the Cobblestone Hotel. Thank you, Brian, Bob, and Kevin!
We bid farewell to Harriet and Marce.
After checking in to the really nice hotel, we went to have dinner with the Polings, friends of 40 years ago. Susie and I taught together with Don Poling at Western Junior High School in the late 70s.
Start location: Hancock MD
End location: Rouzerville PA
Distance: 50.0 miles
Cumulative distance: 2930.0 miles
Elevation gain: 3553.1 feet (surprise!)
Special features: State crossings #11, 12, and 13 – MD to PA, PA to MD, MD to PA
Strava track: https://www.strava.com/activities/747943264