In the spirit of National Bike Month, this post is written by our intern Laurel, who recently found out what it was like to bicycle 100 miles around Lancaster County!
Being a novice (but ambitious) bicyclist I decided I wanted to take the next step in my ‘biking career’ and do what bicyclists often refer to as an American Century - biking 100 miles. Sunday, April 17th was a long-anticipated, beautiful, sunny day with temperatures in the mid-60s, clear skies, and a light breeze. My fiancé and I took off around noon on our tandem bike heading southeast through Warwick Township, the Leacocks, Paradise, and Strasburg. We tried to keep to back roads as much as possible to avoid the stress of cars and the pollution, noise, and safety risks associated with them. Traveling the country roads of Lancaster County is always an enjoyable ride with beautiful landscapes of seemingly endless miles of farmland, silo after silo, Amish and Mennonites families outside working or playing, horse and buggies, and the sense of peace that comes with it. Biking through the country offers even more. You begin to feel one with the landscape as your senses are heightened with every breath and pedal you take.
We took Route 741 into Strasburg, which didn’t have much of a shoulder and had some heavier traffic. We knew we wanted Quarryville (and the ice cream we would eat there) to be our 50 mile point, so we picked up a friend in Strasburg and took a more indirect route down May Post Office Road, around Mount Pleasant, through Georgetown, Connors Mill, and Collins until we arrived at Son’s Ice Cream for our mid-point treat. Ice cream is always good, but it tastes much better when you just biked 50 miles and the sun is beaming down on your face for the first time in months. Son’s Ice Cream definitely hit the spot that day.
50 down, 50 to go! We headed north from Quarryville along Route 222 and then cut back over towards Strasburg to drop our friend off and made our way back to Route 741. We turned north and headed through Intercourse. As the day went on I gained more appreciation for the horse and buggies’ hard work and patience as a steady flow of cars pass. We hopped on Route 23 to get some more miles in before heading back towards Lititz. Route 23 had a good shoulder for bicyclists. Fatigue was starting to set in at this point (for me at least). Luckily Route 23 had a smorgasbord of gas stations and restaurants to stop for water and a quick bite to eat.
The final stretch! We crossed back over the Conestoga River and Route 222 and took Creek Road back into Warwick Township. Creek Road is a quaint country road that follows the Conestoga River, connecting Warwick Township to Oregon Pike and Route 222. The old farm houses, lush greenery, curvy roads, and productive farmland make the 2 mile stretch of road one of my favorites in the county.
A direct route home would be just short of 100 miles, so we took advantage of wheeling around more back-country roads to make up the distance. Our total distance was 100.7 miles with a total elevation gain of 4,327 ft., and a total moving time of 6 hours and 8 minutes (statistics from Strava).
We didn’t have many issues sharing the road with cars on the back-roads since there is generally plenty of space for them to pass us. In more congested areas like Strasburg, cars tried to respect us (for the most part) but didn’t always have the room or patience to give us sufficient space. Congested areas also make it more difficult for cyclists because of the nature of stop-and-go traffic and the maneuverability required to avoid cars. There were times on our ride where we were not treated as another mode of transportation sharing the road, but rather as an insignificant figure that blends into the landscape. In general, I think there is a lack of awareness and attention paid to bicyclist safety and rights that needs to be addressed in Lancaster County.
Where in Lancaster County do you feel the most safe to bicycle? Where do you feel the least safe? How can we make roads safer for ALL users?
Find Lancaster County bicycling resources from our partner, Discover Lancaster, here!