June 18 and 19 – Days 14 and 15
York to Harrisburg; 6/18
The all night rain finally ceased as Đại úy was firing-up the JetBoil to make the last campground Cuppa Joe. An energy bar would suffice for the ride into York where food could be found.
As the end of a tour approaches feelings about ride can clash; wanna be done and don’t want it to end. The final 100 miles would be the first serious road riding since Pittsburgh and transition would be swift with the small city of York only a few miles away where the Rail to Trail portion of Pennsylvania Bicycle Route J-1 joined J-2 and became the J Route. Construction, too-sharp turns and learning that riding on sidewalk would earn a citation from an aggressive constabulary were the beginning of an uneasy introduction to the city. Even the McDonald’s furthered the sense of unease with its abundance of signs stating the lingering over a meal for more than 30 minutes would be considered to be loitering.
Returning to the J Route was hindered by a large, international style sign announcing “no bikes allowed” on the street providing direct access. One-way, two lane streets, traffic lights and rush hour complicated the ride, but York was eventually escaped. Joy was short-lived as the hills of PA became the sole topic of conversation for most of the next 40 miles.
The J Route follows low volume roads that are not loaded-tandem-friendly. What’s that mean? Hills! Hills that began leaving York and continued unrelenting for most of the day’s ride, is what. Yes, there were hills in the early days of the journey, the Allegheny Mountains, but the steady 1.5% grade of a Rail-to-Trail is not a big deal. The final hill before reaching New Cumberland, PAS, was 8% and three-quarters of a mile! Its only redeeming quality was that it was downhill. But you have to go up before you can go down and there was plenty of walking to get up too-steep hills.
|Note the name of the sub-division; Rolling Hills. Had just walked and pushed about 1/4 mile to get there.|
|Remember Three Mile Island?|
Had the Dynamic Duo been traveling by car the J Route would have been picturesque as it followed the wide Susquehanna. On a loaded tandem it was an ongoing task with little visual relief. The folks at Red Land did buy the intrepid riders a drink.
The plan had been to cover about 50 miles and spend the night in the Doyle Hotel, a well-known stop on the App Trail. After crossing the river to Harrisburg food requirements beckoned; Pita Pit, Yay! It was clear by then that the hills had won and HBG was the day’s end, even before horns and revved engines were used by passing motorist to express their lack of appreciation for the bike. An America’s Best Value Inn on the north end of HBG marked the end-of-day; basic, clean, inadequate WiFi and Taco Bell food across the parking lot.
Harrisburg to central PA; 6/19
The final day would cover about 50 miles by following US Routes 22/220 and 11/15 with the first ten involving a series of . . . yes . . . hills. After re-crossing the Susquehanna at Fisher’s Ferry the J Route used the ten foot wide shoulder of a heavily traveled multi-lane highway. It wasn’t Pittsburgh traffic, slow, pondering and angry. Instead it was loud, close and loud and also loud. Again, by this time, Kodak Moments were mostly history not reality.
An odd moment occurred when the Duo stopped to help two motorists with a flat tire, not something you see every day. By 1400, the Subway in Selinsgrove was reached, the final on-the-road food was consumed and a phone call made to discuss venturing into the countryside to reach the final destination.
Not meaning to belabor the point, but . . . hills. And a thunderstorm. Fifty-five and a half miles got Đại úy Chuck and the NCOIC to the end of their ride, but not their adventure.
Did Đại úy get to visit The Doyle Hotel? Yep. On the way back south, in the rain. Got to meet Vickey, who greeted him at the door, Pat and a bunch of through hikers. Don't bet that he won't be staying there one day soon.
Stay tuned for gernal comments about the ride; what worked and what did not, observations and suggestions.