Thursday, August 7, 2008
Day 45 - August 6th - Bedford to Gettysburg
(photos: un-tested coffee shop in Bedford; thinking of my farmer, David; old schoolhouse; Janet takes a ride; confirmation that we are truly in the eastern part of the U.S.)
Awoke at 4:30am to a good old thunderstorm. Not much noise and light, but plenty of wet. Buckets of rain for nearly an hour. This was the morning of one of our longest and most challenging routes. Sharon had posted a note the night before that breakfast would be ready at 5:30am so that we could leave camp by 6:30. The rain put a damper on such a plan, delaying morning tasks by half an hour. Tents were drenched by the storm and unwieldy to pack up. It wouldn't have been surprising to see a stream of water flow from the truck's back door as it made its way to Gettysburg.
After eating breakfast and packing up the truck, we rode out of Friendship Village and on through the town of Bedford. I wished that we had had time to walk through its narrow streets and to visit the well-kept shops. But we had miles of rollers to cover today. The hilliest part of the day's route was during the first 40 miles. Around mile 15, I fit in a stop at McD's to fill up my camelbak. There was a check point set up right around the corner - facing a broad highway, teaming with semi's. The stop was conveniently located in the parking lot of a Starbucks! Bought a latte and ate a banana. Tried to psych myself up for the next 25 miles. Big dips and long climbs. And the air was muggy - yet to clear from the morning storm. Views from ridge tops were veiled in haze. At least the temp was somewhat moderate. Last year's Riders did this section in 100 degree weather, with 100% humidity.
Somewhere around mile 39, in a fairly remote area, I noticed a grocery store with gas pumps outside. A few Riders were already there and flagged me down. What a find! Shaded benches. Friendly people behind the store counters - happy to make up a roast beef sandwich. That, a bottle of V8, a bag of chips and some M&M's set me back just $5. Ate on the porch and flagged down other Riders. Janet stopped by, and noticed a mechanical horse on the porch. Someone dared her to take a ride. Always a good sport, she gave it her all. Glad to provide any/all store customers with some Big Rider entertainment.
A local guy drove up in his pick-up. Very friendly - talked to us about the area. Was then compelled to display a large snapping turtle that he and a friend had recently found in a corn field. Turtle was none too happy to be shown to a crowd, as he held her out from her spiked tail. She tried in vain to snap at his wrist. "What will you do with her?" someone asked. "Eat her" he replied in a matter-of-fact tone.
He then tossed her in the back of his pick-up and waved to us as he drove off.
Mark set up a lunch stop in Cowan Gap State Park. The miles on the way to the stop were very pleasant with more level terrain than the first 30, and lots of shade. The stop in the park was at a lakeside beach - complete with concession stand (why not try a cone?) and crowds of people. We kept to ourselves at a few tables on the fringe of activity. Made and packed a sandwich. Made a half sand and ate it.
Rosie and I got back on our bikes and started in on the final 60 miles. Gentle rolling hills with few surprises. Occasional towns - some with sluggish, noisy traffic. Give me a country road embraced by corn fields, please!
Check point in a shady park. Had a very nice attendant at the snack stand fill my camelbak with ice. This should get me through the day. Cold water is such a boon on a hot day. We rode on through rural areas and small towns. My feet started to ache. Time for water in the shoes. Squished along, easing up a gradual incline and then had a chance to do some coasting. Passed a farm market hat advertised various fresh veg and fruit including "lopes". We assumed "cantalopes".
Reached Gettysburg and took a right turn in town, prior to village square. Rode 2 rolling miles east to the Artillery Ridge campground. Diana and Barb had reserved a cabin for 6 - a nice reprieve from a tent. We luxuriated in having a space to fully open up our bags and spread out their worn-out contents. Drank cold beer and ate pizza on the front porch of our cabin (ironically labeled "Saloon"), happy that our final long-mileage day was behind us. It would be great to have a day off the bike tomorrow.