The Man with the Hammer — Part II

…When we last saw our hero, he was flat on his back, snoozing peaceably in the forest, wondering how he would ever summon the strength to ride his bicycle all the way back home, over hill and dale…

Morning found me in my tent. When I crawled out to attend to biological necessities, I noticed that my legs were a little sore, but not so bad as I expected after yesterday’s epic battle against the hills.

Maybe today would not be such a disaster after all.

I boiled some water for coffee, and soon the other bike hobos were up and about.

Before there is any breakfast, or any packing up of camping gear, or any conversation, there must be coffee.

I made Starbucks Via (instant) coffee, and it was pretty much OK. Sloth had some sort of drip filter, and made real coffee. I believe the bike hobo was also rocking the Starbucks instant.

Sloth having his morning coffee
Sloth having his morning coffee

I had a ton of cardio to do today, so I threw gastrointestinal caution to the wind, and ate two whole packets of instant oatmeal for breakfast. Shortly thereafter, someone started cooking bacon, and caused me to reconsider my entire nutritional regimen.

The Breakfast Table
The Breakfast Table

After breakfast, we broke camp, strapped all our junk onto our bicycles and made ready for departure.

We bid a tearful adieu to the bike hobo, and headed back to Harrisburg. Or at least we headed in a northerly direction. We hadn’t actually bothered to chart much of a course.

Bidding farewell to our traveling companion
Bidding farewell to our traveling companion

We looked at the google maps app on our phones, and hoped / guessed, that PA route 94 would give us a direct, flattish way home.

Cows
Cows

94 turned out to be a fairly major road, with no trees to shade us from the wicked day star. The hills were less traumatic than the ones the day before, but the traffic was horrific. We considered abandoning the road due to traffic, but kept plodding on. I do not recommend riding your bike on PA94, unless you have nerves of steel, and can hold a razor-sharp line. I don’t have any pictures of this part of the ride, because I was too busy trying to hold my line to mess with the camera. It wasn’t a great route, but we survived. We got off 94 somewhere outside of Dillsburg.

Stopped for a rest -- somewhere outside of Dillsburg
Stopped for a rest — somewhere outside of Dillsburg

It was hot outside. The sun was roasting us alive, and we were almost out of water. We tracked down a gas station, where we refilled our bottles with water, and our bellies with Gatorade and ice cream.

I was starting to crack, but we only had 15 miles to go, and we were almost back to familiar roads. So, we powered on. We stopped for one last rest stop / photo op just outside Mechanicsburg.

Mechanicsburg!  Almost home!!
Mechanicsburg! Almost home!!

We arrived back at our starting point to discover that Mrs. Sloth had locked Mr. Sloth out of the house. I was sympathetic, but I had my own Mrs. waiting for me at home — with food. So, I took my leave. On the drive back to my house I pondered the day’s adventure.

We had made it, and the Man with the Hammer did not totally destroy me like he did the day before. I attribute this to the following factors:

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!