Friday, October 11, 2013

Lancaster and York, PA bike paths, don't skip them.

There's a term that some friends and I throw around when we witness, instigate an action, implement, or even on purpose- think that something might draw parallels to what Pro-Tour racers do.  Simply put-- Keepin' it pro.

Obviously we're not 'pros' or 'professional bicycle racers'.  What we're actually doing is making fun of the fact that every time we ride our road bikes, some of us spent ten minutes to put on the gear.  The end result looking like some sort of neon-techno, leg shaven, lycra logo'd monkey of sorts.  Yep, I'll poke fun at the absurdity seeing that someone once said that if you have to take more than five minutes to get ready to ride your bicycle, you're doing it wrong-- sounds true me.  But dammit, I can really appreciate a nice pair of bib shorts.  Anywho...

Cyclocross races are occupying most of my weekends from mid-September until mid December.  This time of the year is crunch time with my job as we hustle to get new product out to our dealers.  Combine that and being a full time daddy, husband and squeezing in some training for the weekend 'cross races leaves little time to exhale, soft pedal or regain your sanity.  Except for this week.

I took advantage of a window of time this week to put in some miles with a local cyclist I really admire this season. Growing up, he's been all over the map with the sports he's participated in. As of the past few years, cycling has been a constant in his life.  Much of which this past year and half he has made great gains as a contender at the local road races.  So with that in mind, I'm going to chase him whenever possible to whip my tail into shape.

On my ride over to meet him at his place, I passed by a museum/ tourist area that has a short bike path spanning the length of the property called Hands on House and the Landis Valley Museum.  Many times in the summer when I'm running behind schedule for a ride out that way, I keep to the main roads.  As of late with the cooler weather, I've been deciding to hop on the bike path.  Hardly anyone is ever on it.  You still need to exhibit a level of a caution as to not scare or clip the occasional dog walkers on the path.  I was halfway down the path this week when the thought occurred to me, we need more trails and paths.  Better yet, we need more people using the ones we have.



This path is named the Manheim Township Bike Path and where it spans, there are many bike rides that leave that parking lot throughout the year. Why take the bike path? Because it needs to be come a Strava segment? No man. Because riding a bicycle, looking like a logo monkey, doesn't always necessitate drilling in Zone 5. Pardon the air of righteousness now, but sometimes we forget what got us into riding in the first place-- fun, friends and transportation.

Now I'm going to rewind back to last month.  I had a scheduling change which opened up a Saturday for me.  I received a message on Facebook from a friend who was riding from eastern PA to DC for breast cancer awareness on that Saturday and she wanted to know if I could hop on for a day ride since they were coming through my area.  Now that my Saturday was open, I was in and not missing it.

The group of cyclists for this ride met in Lancaster city at the Marriott hotel. I cruised over for the social paced ride with bottles and food stuffed in all my pockets and a 10 spot for that food refill for the ride home. Excited to see some old faces and also to just get out for a ride, I told myself that day would be a century ride for me. Sure why not. And it ended up being a 100 miler when it was all said and done.



On the return trip riding eastward, I expected there to be a tail wind. I was wrong. The wind was coming out of the northeast, almost a headwind for the 50 miles back home.  At one point, my route traveled across a road section where traffic was ridiculously heavy; some of which had highway traffic merging onto the roads leading to my intersection- RT30/ RT460. I turned south onto RT 616, then made a quick left to head east down Woodberry Road. This is a piece of the old Monday Night Ride we used to do back in my bicycle retail days. I hadn't been on the route in over 6 year and yes I started the trip down memory lane feeling sentimental and willing to trade riding flat, windy roads for hilly, less windy ones.

The route I followed passed by Indian Rock Dam Elementary School, back to the York College area where I stopped at the Rutter's Farm Store to grab a bottle fill-up and a banana.  From there I cut through the York College grounds and kept true to staying out of the winds by hopping on the York County Heritage Rail Trail

This was a century ride based on base mile pace and pointing my wheel towards the rail trail filled me with a sense of entitlement where we riders need to take the time to frequent local paths and trails.  The point being, trails such as this are constructed with funding which many towns seldom have the money to utilize.  The least we could do is to step foot on them from time to time so the city planners see the project wasn't a wasted effort.



The two paths I speak of in this entry offered a great change of scenery.  Sometimes staring at the paint on the road, looking to avoid tire puncturing debris and whizzing vehicles can be mind numbing at times.  The paths provided a moment of mental relaxation.

I still love my lycra, no there won't be a Strava segment on the Rail Trail and yes you should take the time to stop and watch the leaves change color via bicycle even if it seems like you're not- 'Keepin' it pro.'
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