In spite of the almost constant light rain from beginning to end, I enjoyed this variation of the On Again/Off Again route.
I met PJ at the new start location, Meadowood park. I’m not sure I like this spot better, but unlike the Hunt Valley location, it’s easier for city folks to ride to the start. We were both expecting to see at least a handful of riders, but the crumby weather must’ve kept some people in bed. PJ and I rode off toward the NCR trail.
The approach to the trail is a very nice morning cruise through the county- Thornton, Cuba, Quaker Mill, all classic Baltimore Bike Club roads. We dropped onto the trail at Glencoe and took the short leg up to Monkton. Mike was waiting for us there. He’d begun at the trailhead in Ashland. And then we were three.
Still mostly dry, we began the steepest ascents of the ride, up Wesley Chapel, down to the trail, then up Bentley rd. Big climbs. I was glad to get onto the “plateau” north of the Mason Dixon. The original On/Off went all the way to York. The shortie has it’s turnaround in Glen Rock where I thought we’d have lunch there, but Mignano’s was closed on July 4th. So instead, I had us loop back around to New Freedom using the much more gently rolling roads west and south.
PJ and I rolled through New Freedom and pulled up to the Seven Bar. We’d arrived more than 30min. before their opening time and we were soaked. The rain was never hard, but it had been steady for more than an hour. We squeezed out our hats and waited for the owner to open the door. Thankfully, it wasn’t long- he’d seen us outside and let us in early. We had a couple beers and waited for Mike. When he arrived he was in an easy mood and then pointed to a big fresh bruise on his shin. He’d gone down on wet pavement. Youch! I was thankful that nothing worse had happened. Mike looked pretty stoic about it, chalked it up to Ramble adventure and ordered a beer. In fact we all had a couple, and enjoyed some great food too. Seven Bar is a great refueling stop if you’re up in NF.
After lunch, we cleared out for the remainder miles, the 3 of us a little chilly from the wet clothes and air conditioning. On the return, the Maryland part of the trail had gotten much muddier. I was coasting and scrubbing speed through puddles often. My legs were covered in trail grit and socks were dripping. And that’s with a fendered bike! We had to portage over a downed tree and Mike was tormented by having to fix a pinch flat. But the miles got ridden, even though they were a little miserable.
PJ and I said a final good night to Mike at the lot in Ashland. He made a strong offer to drive us the rest of the way back to Baltimore. Though wet and tired, I’ll always do my best to get home by bike. The remaining miles back to Baltimore weren’t nearly as scenic but they were at least cleaner than the trail. Soon enough I was home, showered and beginning to reminisce about all the good parts.
Thanks, PJ and Mike for a great ride.