Five Weeks Later I Finished


With a feeling that I left something unfinished, today was the perfect day to return and finish the Civil War Century. On September 8 I had begun the climb of South Mountain when severe storms hit. I cut the route short electing to return to the safety of the van.


Library at Blue Ridge Summit, Pa.

A chilly morning, it was 48 degrees when I left home with a forecast of temperatures in the 70s. Arriving Thurmont, I discovered it was something called Colorfest Days and there was no free parking to be had anywhere in Thurmont. I drove up Catoctin Mountain Road about  two miles and decided I would pull over next to the stream, completely off the road.

Covered Bridge near Fairfield, Pa.

I decided to leave the jacket and long finger gloves behind, believing in the forecast. A mistake.

Tunnel in Md. near Blue Ridge Summit, Pa.

I climbed over South Mountain, partly knowing where I was going and partly just exploring. I was surprised when I entered Pennsylvania that I was immediately in Blue Ridge Summit, a small town I had ridden through before on three occasions. And it made sense to me that this was the bailout route for the Civil War Century should someone on the full century route decide after 65-70 miles they wanted to go back to Thurmont. It really is all downhill back to Thurmont from here.

Sabillsville Rd aka Catoktin Mt Route

I had hoped the road markings from the CWC were still in place and they were. Except when they weren’t. At one intersection there was new asphalt down and my marking was gone. I went part on memory and part of feel. And I was right. Mostly.

A painted over marking on the road
Gettysburg, Pa.

Leaving Fairfield, Pa. I came to an intersection and did not see any markings and assumed no turn was necessary. After a few hundred yards I knew it felt wrong but I kept going. I sensed where Gettysburg was and figured I could still get there even though I missed the actual turn.

Fairfield Inn, Fairfield, Pa.

Arriving at the battlefield I got back on course. I found one of the markers and it had been covered in black. I wonder if the Park Service did that but wouldn’t be surprised if the CWC staff did that after the event out of respect for the battlefield.

Gettysburg National Park

Leaving Gettysburg I lost the trail, or so I thought, but picked it up again. The winds picked up and were in my face the rest of the day. And I was cold. Until about the final 10 miles, the temperatures held steady in the 50s and I didn’t have a jacket. 

I wasn’t feeling well. Only a 50-mile ride I had four packets of gels/GUs and ate them all hoping it would help. I was a bit light headed but managed to stay on my bike. Unlike most rides, a sense of relief came over me when I arrived back at the car. Fifty (miles) was enough. But five weeks after I started, I can now say I finished the ride.

EPILOGUE – As a testament to how crappy I felt or how strong the wind was, I averaged a higher speed the first hour which included the 7-mile climb from the start than I did the last hour when it was flat.

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