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.

Tune in Next Time for the Thrilling Conclusion of our Story!

5 thoughts on “The Man with the Hammer – Part I”

  1. Well done! Congrats on completing your first metric century without even planning to! I think that’s the best way to do new distances. It’s almost anticlimactic to complete a distance you’re 100% sure you can do, but when you aim at a hippo on the horizon and shoot and you get there and it turns out you’ve shot down woolly mammoth, that’s the best feeling ever.

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