Posted by: Bike Rider | May 4, 2008

To the Nickel Mines and back

I normally do not ride with A- riders. It’s not that I’m afraid of being dropped; it’s that I hate having them wait for me-especially after climbs. Let’s face it, climbing is not my forte. That said, something intrigued me about a posted ride to the Nickel Mines on Saturday.
Okay, the distance made me a little nervous, but then I remembered that I ‘accidently’ rode 73 miles in the Taxing Metric a month earlier after missing an arrow on the road. The cue sheet said 75 miles-hey, it’s only 2 more miles than the Taxing Metric-no problem. Then I looked at the elevation.
70 fpm!
Now, I’m not a math whiz, but I can quickly determine that this was not going to be Jersey flat. Actually, according to the GPS, the total elevation gain is 5,378 feet. Difficult, but not impossible. Compared to the Taxing Metric at 5,722, this ride was actually easier. All I needed to do was just ride it.
Fortunately, Mary also wanted to ride this same ride. She was supposed to do a Triathlon on Sunday but was concerned about the weather (it ended up being a beautiful day afterall) so she decided to cancel it. So, there we were: Mary and I and the fast-guys sitting in the parking lot at 8:00 am in the mist.
I spent the first 12 miles or so trying to keep up with the fast-guys. Somewhere on Chatham road they plowed ahead into the fog while Mary and I plodded along. The miles rolled beneath us as we talked and marveled at the landscape. It made the time go by too. Before we knew it we were rolling through Atlgen. Riding down Valley road behind an Amish buggy allowed us to ‘window shop’ at all the yard sales that were going on. I did see a neat sink but couldn’t figure out how to attach it to my handlebars without risking life or limb. So we rode on.
Soon it starting to rain. Normally rain doesn’t bother me. However, we were riding in Lancaster County now and the roads were littered with road apples (aka horse manure) and mud-both of which are dangerous to a cyclist. As we crested a small hill we saw the fast-guys ahead of us. Somehow we made some time on them. Actually, they stopped at a convenience store to rest-we didn’t.
We didn’t try to catch them since we still had almost 45 miles of riding to do. We were very content riding the pace we were riding.
Finally, we made it to Nickel Mines, PA. After a short stop, we saddle-up and rode on.
A few miles down the road we got stuck behind a Amish buggy. Not wanting to spook the horse we hung-back until the road flattened out, then we passed. I looked at my computer while we rode behind the buggy and it was reading 4.5 mph-Ugh!
We weaved and meandered down some farm roads and who did we see up ahead? Yes, the fast guys. I think they were just as surprised to see us as we were to see them. Small talk broke out before the pedals started to turn fast again. Mary and I stayed with them for another couple of miles but lost them on Lower Valley Road.
Now, according to cue sheet, we were supposed to make a right on Nobel Road. Problem was-there was no sign for Nobel Road. Fortunately I knew where I was from traveling this road back from Strasburg, so we took a left to S Bridge St/Valley Ave and rode back towards Atglen. One navigation error avoided. Sadly, another was just about to occur.
On 372, we missed the turn to Lenover Road and headed towards Parkesburg instead. At this point we either back-tracked or climb-up Rte 10 to Highland Road-since we didn’t have street map with us, we decided to climb out of Parkesburg on Rte 10. Traffic was light and there was wide shoulder to ride on. However, the climb was a grind! I would estimate it at about 250 feet for about 2 miles or more.
Tired yet relieved, we finally made it back on fimiliar roads. We essentially rode the cue-sheet in revers e from Highland Road back to WC. The only deviation came on 842 were we both agreed to ride up Blue Rock to Barn Hill and through the neighborhoods instead of climbing 842 into WC.
I have to admit, I would have not had as much fun if it wasn’t for Mary and her encouragement.

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