Tom H, author of Road Biking New Jersey and Best Bike Rides Philadelphia, and locally known as the slightly mendacious, but always entertaining, leader of his Insane Bike Posse, has been commissioned to write a book of rides around the Gettysburg Battlefield Park and environs.
He'd approached a number of members of the Posse about having a weekend in Gettysburg to try out some of the rides. He asked if I could bring The Excellent Wife (TEW), if she was willing, as he wanted the input of a less-than-obsessed rider about whether these rides might be possible for the regular, non-biking public.
Somewhat to my surprise, TEW was up for it, and when the weather promised clear (if a bit cooler than we might have liked) for this past weekend, we made arrangements to go. We drove down after work (getting caught in a huge tie-up on the Pennsylvania Turnpike; it was a three-day weekend for some), and stayed in a motel in Maryland, not far from the battlefield.
The rides in Tom's book are short, and his plan for the first day was to do a ride of about 24 miles that covered all or part of a number of them, followed by another 8-or-so mile ride to see a covered bridge. We were to plan on lots of stops, for pictures (Tom doesn't have a good idea of what pictures the editors of the book will want) and to check out directions and road conditions.
The battlefield is FULL of monuments. Evidently, in the years after the war, veterans on both sides wanted to commemorate their comrades. We stopped often for pictures; I got well over 100 on the first day.
Below; at the Eternal Flame:
The ride took us into town, to the re-created station through which Lincoln came on the fall day he was to give the Gettysburg Address:
Then back into the park, at the top of Seminary Ridge, the site of Pickett's Charge. That white dome off in the distance is the Pennsylvania Monument, at the top of the ridge the Confederates were trying to take.
We climbed Little Round Top, where fire was rained down onto two rocky outcrops below. In the center, you can see the Devil's Den:
Above, in the Devil's Den.
On this holiday weekend, the traffic going up and down Little Round Top was intense; if you're going to do Gettysburg, on a bike is a sensible way to do it.
At the Pennsylvania Monument:
We decided to go up Culp Hill (from which there wasn't much of a view, so no pictures), and when we got there, we found that all the ways back to the place we started were marked with one of these:
Tom's re-working that part of the route. It's a shame he has to do it, because it's demanding enough that I'm sure none of the intended audience for the book will ever do that particular ride!
While we were there, TEW had a chat with some of the re-enactors; they're interesting guys.
We got back to the start, and went on the ride to the covered bridge (TEW decided to sit that part out; the ride was more tiring than most of this distance and climb, and we think it was likely due to the many starts-and-stops). On the route is a pedestrian bridge that is marked as closed, but it seemed fine to us:
And back for the day.
In the evening, we had planned to go to the Dobbin House for dinner, a historic inn in Gettysburg... but apparently everyone in town for the holiday weekend had the same idea; they may still be lined up at the door, for all I know. Instead, we went to a local bar and restaurant, O'Rorke's, which was surprisingly good, and might be my choice if we go back. (It looked like nothing-in-particular, but the crab cakes were full of crab, and not filler, for example.)
The next day, we did a 32-mile ride that covered some rides outside of town. We passed some cows, of which I had to get a picture for Laura OLPH:
I thought this barn was great:
This ride includes another battlefield, from an engagement a day or two after the battles at Gettysburg.
On the way, we passed a field where people were flying radio-controlled planes. We stopped for a while; it was a treat:
Ride pages: First part of the first ride, and second part of the first ride (GPS weirdness), and covered bridge, and second day.
Tom's talking about inviting a few of us in the spring to take cue sheets and ride the routes to see how they go. I think it might be cool!