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Thursday, June 03, 2010

June 3: Columbia, PA to Hagerstown, MD

86.84 miles


Abby and I decided that instead of staying on BikePA route S we would cut southwest through Gettysburg to Hagerstown, MD and then take the Potomac towpath and the Great Allegheny Passage to Pittsburgh. This is about 24 miles longer for the Philadelphia-Pittsburgh portion, but the hills will be fewer.

It was another one of those 90+ degree days with little to no shade for most of the trip. Combined with a more or less constant headwind and a number of hills it made for a rough journey. After travelling through Gettysburg we rode through a small forested area, the clouds covered up the sun, and it rained slightly. After the hills, Abby learned there is no joke funny enough to make Mike laugh while he’s tired. (Abby, I was laughing on the inside).

We climbed a huge hill. Periodically on the pavement were messages to Maria: Happy Birthday Maria, Halfway There, Maria, Just one More Hill Maria. My legs were fried and I was walking up when Abby started a conversation with a woman getting her mail.

Abby: “Wish us luck”

Woman: “I know it’s a tough hill. I walk it every day.”

Abby: “Are you Maria?”

Woman: “Yes”

So our curiosity about whether Marie was cyclist, jogger, walker or masochist was answered. Walker, and possibly masochist. 

The resulting downhill was partly on that road (Lower Gum Road? Furnace Road?) and then on PA 16. PA 16 had a paved shoulder, but the left side of it was deeply scored -- more like scooped -- to warn drivers they were going off the pavement. There was a guard rail on the right.  There were two fairly narrow traffic lanes.  I elected to ride on the shoulder, riding the brakes and trying not to get my wheel in the scooped out scoring or have the panniers hit the guard rail. I didn't fully succeed and when the pannier bumped the guard rail I had some anxious moments playing ping pong ball between the rail and the scoring before I got the bike stopped. (This is why I have my leg bandaged in the pictures taken on the next few days.)

Abby took over the lead for the last few miles into Hagerstown, where we searched for a nonexistent hotel (must be some Google Maps error) and ended up staying at the first place we found, a Best Western.

We decided to push on from Gettysburg to Hagerstown in order to justify a guilt-free rest day. We’re taking a rest day tomorrow to let some of the muscles reload. Coincidentally, there’s a Blues Festival in town, so we may take that in.

Photos will be posted later.