The gas station and convenience store don’t even belong to Grumpy anymore, not that I’m sure I ever met Grumpy when he (?) purportedly owned the place. Still, I know he is no longer running things because the big sign outside says “Under New Management,” and below that is the promise that hoagies will return on July 13, and that Broaster Chickens are available until 9:30pm. Grumpy never had broaster chickens; that much I’m sure of.
When I did the ride last weekend, I saw no evidence of hoagies or “broasting” chickens, and the management still treats customers in a rather casual manner. Don’t expect to be greeted or thanked for your business. Nope, not here. Maybe Grumpy left his customer service manual for the new owners.
This time of the year it’s best to start early because there’s nearly 4000′ of climbing in this 105K ride, and the hardest part comes in the first fifteen miles. Once I’m at the entrance to Bear Creek Ski Resort though, I know I’ve done the hardest climb, at least until the long one about 11 miles before the finish.
If you’re a fan of courses with short cue sheets, this one will appeal as the first 30 miles are on one road. After that, there is a bit of winding through beautiful and quiet farm country on roads with watery names like Swamp Creek Road and Swamp Picnic Road. Come to think of it, you also pass Camp Laughing Waters on New Hanover Square Rd. On Swamp Creek Road, there is a farm with an old barn, the front of which has recently been repainted:
I paid more attention this time to this Mail Pouch Barn because I had just seen another one (also freshly repainted) in New Jersey while on a ride with my friend Chris. I wonder if there is some sort of campaign to restore barns advertising Mail Pouch tobacco?
This was one of those rides that is hard to write about, sort of, because no suffering was involved. It’s always easier to write about suffering, but this was a beautiful day, with views of just about every possible shade of green, and enough climbing to make me feel like I’d done a respectable ride when I pulled back in to Grumpy’s parking lot.
I bought a coconut water, did a quick look around the store to see if the hoagies had really returned (I didn’t see them), and sat outside for a few minutes savoring the cold drink. Then it was time to ride back up the hill to get home.
Just another lovely day on the bike.