I was NOT looking forward to this trip.
Months ago, The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I had reserved a room for the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia's (BCP) Spring-N2-Cycling weekend. I had accompanied a few members of the Princeton Freewheelers on the BCP fall, trip, and had had a great time. TEW though we could go on this weekend; she would ride her own rides, and I could go out with faster folks; we could hang out together afterwards.
But the closer the date came, the less I was looking forward to it. I'd done the Anchor House Ride years ago, and, while the ride was good, the experience was isolating for me; I don't meet people easily, and didn't on the Anchor House ride; I rode mostly alone, as I did mostly everything else that week. I'd been looking forward to that ride with great anticipation, and it turned out the anticipation was the best part of that ride; the experience, for me, was disappointing. (I don't blame the Anchor House ride. They do a great job. My isolation stemmed from my problems, not theirs.) I think I was anticipating another experience like that.
It didn't help when the forecast for the region turned out to be rain, interspersed with brief periods of dark and damp. I had visions of sitting in a hotel room with TEW, arguing over trifles. (Might the fact that I would be turning 62 over the weekend have something to do with it?)
We packed up the car in the rain on Friday morning, and began the drive to Philadelphia. Rain and more rain. I texted Tom; he, Jack H, and Snakehead were planning to go, but Snakehead didn't get his act together, and then discovered he had work that was calling; Snakehead was out.
About 100 miles into the rainy ride, about a half-dozen idiot lights came up on the dash of the 10-year-old Prius. TEW and I had some discussions about turning back; I did some internet research, and it looked like the codes were for stuff that would allow us to proceed. I topped off the fluids and re-tightened the gas cap (a well-known subterfuge among Prius owners to clear codes), and we continued to what I thought was going to be a soggy weekend with little riding.
Except that when we got there, Tom H and Jack were getting together to do a ride; there appeared to be a break in the weather, and Tom had a 25-miler that we thought we could get in before the ran started again. We did a nasty hill at the start (we didn't have to, but you know we did it anyway), and stopped at the Montour Preserve.
And, of course, since this was a Tom ride, there was a bridge out, that we were able to get past anyway...
In our travels, we met Laura (no, not THAT Laura), who came upon us as we came to a road we couldn't pass; it was soft gravel.
We backed up and bobbled about until we got back. There were great views (the pictures don't do them justice).
... and we got back just before the rain started again.
As I was dressing, Regina found me and insisted I go out to the lot and start the car. I did. And all the offending idiot lights were gone. After that, and the ride, my mood brightened notably, much more than the weather ever did.
Saturday's weather called for clear early, with rain starting later in the morning. Tom opted for an early start; we got underway by 8 (the coffee wasn't ready at the hotel much before that... there was some disorganization at the hotel, although the skeleton staff bravely tried to soldier on). The three of us left the lot on this route, and turned around shortly after departure to find another Jack had joined us.
Laura. Jack. If there was gonna be a Snakehead, I was gonna worry.
(The other Jack:)
Both Tom and I had put the route into our respective GPS devices (of competing brands, using different maps). About 12 miles in, we got to a place where both devices told us to turn right onto a bridge across the river... but there was no bridge. It was not that the bridge was underwater, or washed away, or under construction. There was no bridge. There was no road to the bridge, no sign that there had ever been a bridge. We proceeded to the next crossing and I, for one, practiced my swearing.
We crossed the Susquehanna.
In Catawissa, we came upon the Opera House.
And, since it WAS a covered bridge ride:
And somewhere along the way, we caught a little rain.
On the way back, we stopped at the locally-famous Heeter's Drive-In for ice cream. Perhaps it was unnecessary on this cool, rainy day, but if we hadn't gone, we would have missed the garrulous, probably borderline autistic, but very friendly fellow who expanded on bikes, motorcycles, local history, ice cream, arboreal care, and probably would have ventured into topics better left uncovered had we not left. One of the waitstaff rolled her eyes and apologized, but it was some of the best entertainment of the day. From there we tried to roll through Danville back to the hotel, but the annual street fair forced us to alter the route. We got back about fifteen minutes before the deluge.
Reports for Sunday, though, were for unrelenting rain in Danville and a break in the clouds in Central Jersey, so we left early so I could get a recovery ride in.
Both days, Regina tried to do a solo ride, but the route she picked was on a heavily-traveled road, and she missed a turn, and she turned around and went back to the hotel. Perhaps a different route, or riding with a leader?
In any case, it was a good weekend for us, and my initial foreboding turned out to have no basis. As a seer, I'm less reliable than Professor Trelawney.
A word about the hotel: they were understaffed and not ready for us. The staff bravely tried to do what they could (that was clear), but it was a failure of management to have adequate staff. I hope that, for future trips, this will not be the case (my understanding is that the BCP has used this hotel for some time). For one thing, Jack H really liked these roads!