Sat, Aug 25 2007 - North Central Rail Trail Biking and Tubing (View Original Event Details)|
Norma Broadwater, Saki Saki
|Participants:||Norma Broadwater, Saki Saki, Jeff Huesman, Lutz Rastaetter, michael thomey, Michele Touchet, Michael Eppert, Amanda Owens, Chris B.|
Norma and I planned a 40 mile double rail trail bike ride that would enable participants to bike the full length of the York County Heritage Trail (YCHT) and the North Central Railroad Trail (NCRT) in one day. This event would involve a car shuttle and three rest breaks, the last being for lunch. It was to be an all day affair. After putting this all together in a detailed plan, we posted this to the Maryland Outdoor Club (MOC) website.
The NCRT was completed in 1832. It carried passengers and freight between Baltimore, York, and Harrisburg for 140 years. After the decline of the railroad, the railroad bed was converted to a rail trail in 1984. Today, the Maryland portion of the trail is 20 miles long and is managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, as part of Gunpowder Falls State Park. In 2007, the Board of Public Works approved the renaming of the NCRT to the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail. The board also approved the dedication of the trail's Monkton Train Station in honor of Dr. Brown, who served as the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) secretary under Governors Harry R. Hughes and William Donald Schaefer from 1983 to 1995. Brown was the major driving force in developing the abandoned North Central Railroad as the state's first multi-use recreational trail, which was dedicated in 1984.
York County, Pennsylvania manages an additional 20 miles from the Mason-Dixon line to York, Pennsylvania.
A couple of weeks after posting our event, the trip was maxxed out with 18 participants (including Norma and me). There were even 3 on the waiting list to get in. But as the event drew closer, folks started dropping out. With the weather forecast calling for temperatures in the high 90s, we were not surprised.
Maryland weather is difficult to predict so I waited until early morning on the day prior to the event. If the heat index was calling for the low 90s, I'd probably go on with the event as planned. But this was not the case. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued the following hazardous weather outlook warning:
AN EXCESSIVE HEAT WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR WASHINGTON DC...ARLINGTON...ALEXANDRIA...AND BALTIMORE CITY SATURDAY AFTERNOON AND EARLY EVENING AS THE HEAT INDEX MAY NEAR 110 DEGREES. ELSEWHERE THE HEAT INDEX IS EXPECTED TO BE BETWEEN 100 AND 105 DEGREES.
In the Marines, we have what we call "black flag days." This is when the temperature, humidity, and other factors are taken into consideration and a "no physical training" warning is issued. I don't understand the formula for determining such a day but I knew August 25, 2007 (the day of our event), would be a black flag day.
The folks who signed up for our event made time in their busy schedules to get outside and have fun. I didn't want to turn them away but I also didn't want to put anyone in danger. I consulted Weather Underground, which breaks down the forecast into two hour intervals. I knew that before 1100 (11am), the temperature was expected to not be higher than 90 degrees.
I was now faced with a big decision. How do I show people a good time outdoors for most of the day without putting anyone at risk of becoming a heat casualty? Fortunately, I knew the area well so I came up with a plan. I discussed it with my lovely and talented co-leader, Norma, and we decided to send out a message on Friday morning announcing a change in our plans.
We would bike from Monkton, Maryland, to New Freedom, Pennsylvania and back. This shorter route would allow us to finish before it started getting really hot. By cutting out the car shuttle in favor of a yo-yo route, we'd substitute our time driving with biking. After biking, we'd eat lunch. Later, anyone who wanted to join us could go river tubing down Gunpowder Falls in the afternoon. I sent out this announcement to the group along with directions to the new meeting place (a 10-15 minute driving differenc
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