I hadn’t done this ride for a while, mostly because I think of it as a pretty hilly ride, and in the summer it is also hot out there in Lancaster farmland. Laurent and I picked a good day, though, for this ride. No rain but relatively mild weather, nice enough weather that we were able to move at a pretty decent pace. We kept having the luxurious feeling that we could relax just a bit at controles, something that we don’t experience very often.
We had a good breakfast at the Mt. Penn Family Restaurant and then quickly got our bikes ready. The first leg of the route begins with a mild climb up Neversink Rd. But the climbing continues on Golf Course Rd, Quarry Rd and Rock Hollow Rd. Nothing steep, just steady. When you finally reach the Turkey Hill at mile 23, you’re ready for a morning snack. And fortunately for Laurent and I, we had more spare time than we’ve ever had on this route and were able to enjoy our rice pudding and pastries.
The next leg includes noteworthy climbs up to the Conestoga Wagon Restaurant and then another good climb up to the top of the hill where the Turkey Hill ice cream factory is located. After you reach the top of this hill, however, there is a well-deserved downhill at the bottom of which you ride along the Susquehanna for a while, and then lunch comes soon thereafter. The cue sheet lists a Turkey Hill as the official controle in Columbia, but there is also a Subway nearby and that makes a pretty good lunch stop.
And it is a good idea to have a hearty lunch because the climbing begins again almost immediately after lunch. Ironville Pike, Norwood, and Fairview will make your heart rate go up a bit. I haven’t mentioned yet that this route has several covered bridges on it and most of them come after lunch. Naturally these bridges are at the bottom of hills, so you do quite a bit of going up and down in the after-lunch part of the route. However, the countryside is lovely and the road names are almost as picturesque: Spooky Nook Rd, Mt. Joy Rd, Temperance Hill Rd, Muddy Creek Rd.
The next controle is at a “super” Turkey Hill in Lititz, and by the time we reached this point, we were really ready for a stop. The temperature had gone up enough that we were looking for cold drinks and ice cream, and we found a shady spot on the side of the store to enjoy our cold treats.
The last stage, also quite picturesque, won’t disappoint if you like hills. Berks County, I’ve found, has lots of short kinda steep rollers. So there is a period of time on this route where you know you’re getting close to the end, but you find out that you’re going to have to work for that finish. No coasting to the end on this ride. Patience is required and as long as you take a deep breath and realize that if you keep a steady pace, you’re going to finish just fine and then enjoy a well-deserved dinner, you will be fine. So we finished while it was still light, packed our bikes and gear into our cars, and headed for Island Pizza, a sentimental favorite that is just a few miles down the road.
Island Pizza is a controle on our fleche route and us Escargots have enjoyed several dinners and beers at this restaurant. We had a great dinner, said our good byes and each headed for home. We had a companionable, lovely ride out in some of Pennsylvania’s picturesque farmland.