Dirt, Cows & Horses (bridge,dirt & horses r2)

As I hung out with Ken on Saturday, we talked about the route and I told him about my not liking the busy parts. There were no altercations, but when I think of a day out on the bike I like to spend more time on quiet back roads and less time getting passed every 8 seconds on a major thoroughfare. In the event that being on a busy road is unavoidable I enjoy one with a huge shoulder where the pavement isn’t crumbling on the white line and rolling off into a ditch. I had tentatively planned for a second longer-distance effort on Sunday, but after getting in late Saturday night from visiting friends I just wasn’t feeling it. In addition to chores I took some time Sunday to blog and start building off of Ken’s route to cook up my ideal Harford County (and some Balto. Co. I think) ride.

My first observation is that when planners chose the main routes, they were obviously careful to avoid the steepest grades in the county. By process of elimination that left the hillier roads for riding. Lucky me.

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Disclaimer: I started talking about specific roads but got bored of writing it all out pretty quick, especially since there’s like 500 turns on this route. First 6 miles were the same as always — heading south towards Rocky Branch along Reckord Rd., then climbing back out. From there I crossed 152 but aimed for Pleasantville Rd. rather than Carrs Mill and Grafton Shop. I took a few of the back roads to catch up with High Point and Cosner from Ken’s route again. Rather than heading west I kept going north till I almost got to Rocks St. Park. Hit the northern-most point and stopped to take the ‘clif-bar-break-photo’…

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Technically the northern-most point was at the ridge on the other side of the farm. Sharon Acres Rd. parallels one side of North Stirrup run and Rigdon Rd. is on the other. I rode north on one, dipped through the valley on Sharon Rd. and went south on the other side. The view from the other ridge had a strange symmetry…

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From there it was west towards horse country. My original idea in devising a route which cut across the county was to use the east/west highway as a way to get from one side to the other. Not paying attention to the map I tried to intersect in a few points before realizing that most of the minor roads are simply bridges underneath without an intersection…

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There was probably a way to hike-a-bike up the hill and around the fence, but I think I like the back-roads better now that I’ve tried them. Headwinds were aplenty from the west again. They weren’t quite as strong as Saturday and I wasn’t riding into them for as long, but they did take their toll on me mentally around mile 30. The western-most leg of the route intersects with route 152 many times and the temptation to stay on it for a rolling ride home with a tailwind was pretty strong. I ate ever-so-slightly more than last time, but the route was ever-so-slightly more hilly too. My legs were getting twinges and I was on the verge of cramping up. A little bit of water with an electrolyte tab was enough to level me off. I ate my on-bike snacks, but didn’t have to dip into my emergency reserves to finish the south side of the route. Normally I stay in my big ring for a stretch about 5 miles out but was a little too tired for it. I watched the average on my gps tick down from 12.3 to 12.2 on the last long climb and even though I know it’s all semantics I thought to myself “no you don’t…” Once I got back to the flatter sections I did 2-3 sprints at level 10 max effort just to push it back over. By the time I hit my driveway and shut off the GPS I was done.

Only decisions I wasn’t crazy about were Pleasantville rd on the way north at mile 13 and the same road again around mile 36 at the end. Given the entire route it was the most traffic for the day and not to terribly great an improvement over Grafton Shop Rd. I have a way to cut it out, but it takes me away from the stretch of gravel on Cosner Rd. which I’ve already grown accustomed to. The southern stretch of Pleasantville to Fork Rd. will be reserved for lazy Sunday rides and I’m going to replace the miles lost there at the top of the route, hopefully extending it into Rocks St. Park.

Nice day on the bike and aside from the 2 aforementioned stretches there was nary a car to be seen. I’m pleased with the times. The moving average doesn’t look like much, but considering this is me and the elevation profile would make the route an 11k century I’ll take it. A little more tweaking and I think I’ve got a good replacement for the trainer.

Distance: 48.8mi | moving time: 3h42m | avg: 11.6 | mv avg: 12.3 | elev: 5501′

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6 thoughts on “Dirt, Cows & Horses (bridge,dirt & horses r2)

  1. If you want to avoid the Fallston Road bit between 34 and 36, I have a suggestion. After 32, take a right on Green, then left on Sweet Air, right on Patterson, then a quick left to the Baldwin/Fork/Pleasantville intersection. Green Rd. is a beautiful stream-following lane, that’s got a good uphill section to Sweet Air. Sweet Air is heavier use, but I’ve never been passed by more than 3 cars in that section. It’s a grind up to the top, but then the right onto Patterson after the church gets you a tasty downhill with a sweet, flat, run out to Long Green Pike. A quick left and you’re back on cue. This is the northern part of one of my weekly training rides, hence the tedious detail.

    • Tedious detail is the best kind of detail. I don’t mind those little stretches of Fallston b/c there’s an open 4-5 foot wide shoulder that’s clear of debris. Those are great suggestions for roads to use on more southern routes though. I’ll give ’em a shot. Your description of Green Rd. sounds like exactly what I’m trying to see the most of.

  2. I do not mind riding 152 where the shoulder is nice and wide. There are some other routes worth trying. If you turn left (going N) off 152 at Connelly Road to Old Fallston, then left on Laurel Brook. Nice road, nice homes. Turn left at the bottom of the hill to go to Bottom Road. Cross the bridge and head up to Fork Road. Or turn right at the bottom of the hill to stay on Laurel Brook and up the hill to Pleasantville Road. Friendship Road (across from Fallston Library) also brings you down to Laurel Brook.

    I like riding this area of Baltimore/Harford County. Maybe we can ride together sometime when the weather is better…

    • I have to second that -> Bob’s the real hero here and most of what I’ve done so far was nicked off his 2 routes in Harford County. Best database I know of for finding the best biking streets is Google’s biking directions but that is very focused on metropolitan areas.

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