Monday, June 24, 2013

High Rock and Pen Mar from Another Perspective

Michael, a friend, and I are training for Cycle Oregon in September, so we have been riding. A lot. This year's route for Cycle Oregon is actually similar in length and climbing to the route we did in Iowa during RAGBRAI two years ago, so we are training in the same way we did for that ride. This weekend, we wanted to climb, so we headed out to Meyersville, Maryland with a friend for a hilly ride along South Mountain. We hiked in the area a couple of years ago, but we had never ridden there.

We started out under gray skies and sprinkles, but that turned out to be okay. It was nice to ride without the sun bearing down on us while we were doing the majority of the climbing. The climb on Pen Mar road was, shall we say, challenging. I am pretty sure I could have walked up the switchbacks faster than I rode it, but I managed to make it up on two wheels. We took a long break at Pen Mar Park before tackling the two mile ride up to High Rock. That part of the ride turned out to be a pleasant surprise:  an easy climb with a nice, breezy view from the top.  The rest of the ride consisted of rolling hills, some of which were steep, but nothing as steep as the climb up to Pen Mar Park. It was a good, tough ride:  55 miles and 3,000 feet or so of climbing. It could definitely become a regular ride for us.

 Taking a quick break at the northern trailhead for the Catoctin Trail.
The view from the Catoctin Trailhead. Although this picture doesn't show it well, the route goes through some absolutely beautiful farmland. 
The Appalachian Trail in Pen Mar Park. This is where people typically start the Maryland and Four State Challenges.
Shoe shot from High Rock.
A better picture of the view from High Rock. The weather cleared while we were having lunch at Pen Mar Park.
About 12 miles from the end of our ride, we were grinding up a long hill out in the sun when we spotted a spring pipe in the ditch on the side of the road.  All of us soaked our heads in the ice-cold water, which was a perfect morale boost for the rest of the ride.

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