I knew I was going to be up in Lewisburg, PA in mid-July because Sara's parents were allowing me to store some things at their house. After a hectic Friday packing the Uhaul and an equally hectic Saturday unloading it, I thought I needed to do a ride on Sunday for body and soul. The route that I planned to do was one that I'd plotted out two years ago that was very similar to a route that I'd found on the Bucknell cycling website. The route had three climbs, with one being pretty darn big. Sara and I had come down the big one on the tandem.
The ride started off fine--foggy as per usual for a summer's day in Central PA. Going south on Stein was the right route to take, considering the road is blown out and would have been pretty unsafe if I were to be coming down from the ridge that way. Once over the ridge, I crossed over Rt. 304 and got onto some nice small roads, even crossing a nice little bridge on a road strangely called Little Mexico Rd.. I missed a turn or two along the way to New Berlin.
It was early in the morning, and it was very different going through New Berlin this time as opposed to when I went through it with Sara during a craft show. The small town was all quiet. I went up the ridge to go north out of the town and took Mountain Rd. to the left to go diagonally. This road ended up being a dirt road--and a little grippy at the beginning. I had to stay seated to keep traction, because if I didn't my wheels would spin out. It turned into a downhill that was still gravel, but a little more hard packed. It's always a little unnerving going 30 mph on road tires in gravel.
The next part of the ride was probably my favorite, going along the ridge on the north side, where there were flat-to-rolling roads. I encountered the Amish going to church. Some of them were riding bikes, but in their normal Sunday clothes rather than in spandex. I also had a first-time experience of following two horse-drawn buggies, which were going at a pretty good clip but were slower on downhills because they couldn't freewheel like I could. I overtook the buggies on a downhill section, and the kids in the back seemed amused.
Then came the big climb on RT 235. The climb was actually too my liking--somewhat stepped, but still tough. It took a while to get to the top, but what goes up must come down. The downhill was pretty straight, so I was able to let it hang out and ended up going 50 mph at some points. As I worked my way back to New Berlin to go over the ridge again and head to Sara's parents' place, I took some back roads instead of the more direct route to the town. I went through some rolling, hilly sections, finally going up one last hill that turned to gravel. As I I was riding another gravel downhill, disaster struck. I got a sidewall cut in my tire, which basically ended my ride. The kicker is, I was only 50 yards from the gravel ending and going to pavement. I called Sara to pick me up, and luckily she was home and willing to do so. Interesting to note, I was able to ride three or four miles on the flat, tubeless tire, in the process catching 2 girls on mountain bikes who caught me after I'd flatted. Sara came shortly thereafter. I got a nice warm reception and we rode home together in her mom's car.
I ended up with a little under 50 miles on the day and only didn't do the last five to Sara's parents' house. So it was a good ride. Next time I will cue it to stay away from the dirt roads.