Maryland Outdoor Club
Sun, Apr 24 2005 - Bike Ride on the NCR Trail (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): John Putman
Participants:John Putman, Jackie Putman, Roy Cutler, Ryan Meadows, Barry Brasseaux, Rita Fabian, Kristina Kavaliunas, Seth Young, HASAN KILIC

Write Up:
With an iffy forecast and cold temperatures, the attendance list shrank as the morning progressed. A few hardy souls managed to defy the cold and arrived at the parking lot ready to go.

After getting sufficiently chilled and introducing ourselves, we got under way. Expecting the worst, we were happy to find the trail dry and very sparsely populated. Most weekends on the NCR are experiments in dodging and weaving. The cold and clouds kept most visitors away, I imagine. We cruised along, making great time.

Our first stop was at Monkton. Our initial joy was replaced by angst when we learned the restrooms were closed for maintenance. Monkton was a rail station that has been restored and is now a museum of life along the North Central Railrod. Yeah, that was closed too. We pressed on toward Parkton. The group spread out a little as the riders found their pace. With so few people on the trail, this caused no problem. The leaders of the paceline were kind enough to stop every so often to let us slackers catch up.

Parkton used to be a bustling hub of weekend outdoor activity. That is until the general store/café caught fire. Now the empty, blackened hulk sits along the river, forlorn and wistful. The laughter of children and the smiles of happy young couples in love on a Sunday stroll nothing but a shadowy memory. There is even a pile of partially melted bicycles still leaning against the patio railing as though waiting for some playful teens to return to claim them.

Past Parkton, the trail is really beautiful. I mean, the entire trail is nice, but it becomes almost a secluded side trail north of Mine Road. You see, most park visitors start at Monkton, ride or walk for a while, then return to Monkton. Ergo, once past Parkton the trail is emptier, quieter, and secludeder. (I mean more secluded.) Also, the woods along either side become denser and there are flowers close to the trail along the east side. The warmer temperatures and the rain from weeks past brought out blossoms and gave the grass a rich, deep green color. Violets, forsythia, and daffodils were among the more noticeable flora. It was extraordinarily peaceful and lush.

We finally arrived at the last stop before the return trip. The Mason-Dixon line is a bit underwhelming. There is a map at the line of the entire trail, including the York County Heritage Trail that extends north into Pennsylvania all the way to York. There are some picnic tables. There is a little white post that marks the actual line. There is, however, no big yellow dotted line as I expected. There was no marching band awaiting our arrival. Not even a barbershop quartet. Oh, well. The group had a good lunch and conversation at the aforementioned picnic tables. We talked about everything from clipless bike shoes and mobile phone reception in bomb shelters. I mentioned that I had a spare inner tube but that I had forgotten in my car. In response, Kristina offered some keen insight by which to live: things work better if you bring them with you. Sage advice.

The ride back to Ashland flew by, almost literally for some. A certain speed demon made incredible time back to the parking lot. No stops for this Lance Armstrong type as he averaged about 19 miles an hour, I'd say. He was long gone by the time the rest of us got back. And to think, earlier in the ride he invited me to ride with him some time. Yeah, right. I'd need a motorcycle.

The group spread out again on the way back, some riders making short pit stops along the way. We did all made it back in one piece, only a little worse for wear.

The group hung around a little while reflecting on our experience. We agreed that despite the chill and with no rain falling, the ride was fun. We felt a certain sense of accomplishment having ridden so far and not needing an ambulance.

Thanks to all who braved the chill and made it a great ride.

--John Putman

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