We were pleasantly surprised to learn that the route for day-8 was changed to utilize a 40-mile rail trail. Instead of the very hilly route used on previous years, we had a very flat ride today. It was also only 63 miles, so it was a relatively easy Sunday ride. We started at 7:20 AM, riding on town roads. Ten minutes into the ride, we were greeted by Debbie, her son and his wife. Debbie rode cross country with ABB in 2002 with me. She then got a job with ABB and was on staff for this ride and others for many years. Everyone enjoyed being cheered on.
We continued on the streets of Columbia PA, and then crossed the Susquehanna River on the Veterans Memorial Bridge into Wrightsville. For about 10 miles, we rode passed farms and shopping centers, then through a small section of the city of York. In York, we picked up the Heritage Rail Trail.
The rail trail had a few small sections of pavement, but for most of its 20 miles in Pennsylvania it was crushed stone and a smooth enough surface for a road bike. The railroad tracks were still in place, unlike most rail trails today, and there was one town where you could take a ride on a steam train. The trail was tree-lined, and we spent the rest of the day under the canopy of the trees.
We had one rest stop today in Seven Valleys, around mile 30 of our route. There were three large bike sculptures there. Along the way, many little towns had eateries for trail travelers. We also followed a small river for much of the way. At the halfway point on the trail, we reached New Freedom Station near the border of PA and Maryland. It just started to rain as I arrived at the station, and I made a brief stop for water and a snack. The rain shower passed quickly, and I pressed on. As we traveled over the border into Maryland, the trail changed from a slight incline to a nice gradual descent. It also changed from a well maintained crushed stone trail to a two track dirt and grass path. There was so much water from the rain, it formed two little streams down the hill. For the next 20 miles, we rode in these little streams and through mud. By the time we finished everyone’s legs and back and bikes were covered with mud. At the hotel, we immediately went to the back parking lot and hosed off our bodies and bikes. Once clean, we could go into the hotel.
It was a fun day, with quiet roads on a Sunday morning, 40 miles of off-road cycling, comfortable temperatures, a delightful rain shower, and riding through puddles and mud like a kid again.
Pictures Of The Day:
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