Day One: Nottingham, Pennsylvania (87.6 Miles)

I left this morning at 7:56 am. It was a little later than I’d hoped (I was aiming for 7:30) and a lot later than when I rode up to Baltimore for Annual Conference in June. On that trip, I made it to Baltimore in 2h 56 minutes. This time, my pace was about 15 minutes longer to get to Baltimore. And arriving in Baltimore, I took the opportunity to take a snack break at the Inner Harbor, near the U.S.S. Constellation.

The U.S.S. Constellation

I should have taken a longer break. The first 38 miles to B-more was great, albeit hotter than the last time I made this trip. But the second leg was miserable. The mid-day heat just seemed so much more oppressive, and having stopped biking for a while, my momentum seemed lost. The hills were that much harder. My speed was dramatically decreased.

Prior to leaving, my friend Steve was joking that he imagined I would come to my demise as I stayed in some Bates Motel-esque hotel along the route. When he shared this observation with some friends, one of them pointed out that biking through Baltimore was bound to be more perilous than rural Pennsylvania. I am not sure whether Baltimore is more dangerous, but the portions of Baltimore that I biked along Route 1 on my way out of town were downright depressing. I know why The United Methodist Church has adopted Baltimore in an effort to help transform the city. Vacant lots, overgrown with grass and weeds. Boarded up buildings. The few signs of life being a father and daughter selling flavored cold drinks and a man selling bottles of cold water out of a cooler (I bought two). I have been to Baltimore many times, and had even seen the poorer neighborhoods to the west of the city, around the ballpark, and north of the Inner Harbor. But the areas along Belair Avenue in the northeast of the city were not like anything I had seen before. Such large areas of the city in utter economic ruin. And it seemed to be uphill.

I ended the second leg of the day’s trip in Bel Air, Maryland (60 miles into the day’s journey), where desperate for carbohydrates (and confident of the thousands of calories I was burning today), I stopped at a McDonald’s for the first time in probably a year. This time, I took my time, spending an hour on the lawn outside the restaurant, eating my meal and resting my legs.

Conowingo Hydroelectric Dam

The effort paid off, as when I set out again, my legs were in much better shape. And the portion of Maryland I was riding in on the stretch after Bel Air was mercifully flat along Route 1. The route crosses the Susquehanna River over the Conowingo Hydroelectric Dam, with a beautiful view off either side. Unfortunately, there’s nowhere good (or allowed—I was scolded for trying) to take a picture from the dam, so here is a picture of the dam from the far side.

From this point, it was a mere ten miles or so to my end destination of Nottingham, Pennsylvania. I had chosen this as my stopping place, because it was the first town after Bel Air that had a place to stay. Bel Air had a couple of motels, but I have budgeted 70 miles a day on this trip, and I didn’t want to start the trip following behind schedule on the first day. And so in the end, I wound up going 87 miles all told. That’s 23 miles farther than I’ve every biked in one day (the existing record set on the bike trip to Harper’s Ferry with Rachel and Michelle). And that was flat pretty much all the way. Though I did notice a similar phenomenon on this trip: the last few miles seemed to be especially long. Some aspect of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity no doubt.

Mason-Dixon Line
The Mason-Dixon Line

But then I came upon a particularly beautiful sight: the Mason-Dixon Line and the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania. Nottingham would be just a mile or so beyond the border. Nottingham is a nice little town. The hotel has a restaurant, but it only serves breakfast and lunch. There is however a Wawa about a 3 minute walk from the hotel and so for dinner I had my first ever “shorti”. Along with the shorti, I had a bag of Herr’s potato chips. That was due in large measure to the fact that Nottingham, PA is the home of the Herr’s Snack Company. The Wawa was full of them. In fact, the company headquarters is located right across the street from my hotel. They have tours, but I think as I will not want to be delayed too much tomorrow morning, I’ll have to save that for the next time I pass through this way.

Make Herr’s Yours!

Well, I still can’t really believe that I biked 87 miles in one day. I know that’s nothing compared to the people who do this regularly. In fact, at one point on Conowingo Road, I was passed by a guy on his 10 speed flying down the road as I was crawling along at that point. But, I digress. I am looking forward to tonight’s sleep. I expect that it will be a sound sleep.

(To see the route click