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The first thing that I had noticed when I stopped the car was the road I was going to climb. It seemed to go straight up the mountain. I had checked my topo map and I new that it stopped at around 1600 feet and I knew that I was at around 900 feet. I saw how close the gradient lines were so I knew that the first parts of the climb would be brutal, but I had no idea what I was about to get into.
When I left my dorm, it was 17 degrees outside. I was sure that the temperature would climb into at least the mid twenties as the ride went on. My friends scoffed at me but there I was loading my car with warm riding gear and throwing my Bianchi Franken-singlespeed on top. I set out for the short drive to the northern end of the Michaux State Forest. My ride would take me up Ridge Rd, hopefully reaching Hammonds Rocks, which I thought were about 10 miles inside the park. Upon reaching the parking lot and throwing my clothes on, I jumped on my bike and began the ride. This climb, I could tell immediately, was not like other climbs. Instead of easing you into a steady cadence and pace up its slopes, it blasted skyward at what was probably a 15%+ grade and relentlessly taunted you with blind turns that could yield abatement to your suffering. My 32x18 gearing, which had served me fine in the lesser climbing of my southeastern Pennsylvania home was mocking me as well. Purposely, it seemed, it forced my cadence down below 50; a place that even I, who has a naturally low cadence (about 75-85) was uncomfortable with. My only choice was to stand and deliver, and I did, for a while. Eventually my legs gave out and forced me back down to the cadence hell I had just escaped from. I climbed on.
The higher I got, the more I longed for a break from the seemingly endless climb. Then my excuse to stop the pain came. I saw an overlook ahead. I thought to myself, this is just a fun scouting ride, why should I not stop. The break was good for my legs, and the view did for my mind. I was looking out upon my home, Carlisle, off in the distance. The land between here and North Mountain was relatively flat compared to the ridges that encompassed it. I grabbed a quick drink and continued upward. From then on the climb seemed easier. I don’t know whether this was my mind playing tricks on me or whether my legs had finally warmed up. I’d like to think the latter. About a mile later the road turned downhill for a while, then up again towards what turned out to be another overlook. This one looked past a few ridges onto a similar scene, although the early afternoon sun had done its job of melting a bit of the snow off the valley floor. I checked my map to find out how close I was. In my endorphin-induced haze I could not, for the life of me, find the overlook I was standing at. I figured though, that I had to be close. I had already ridden for miles! I cranked on and in about ten minutes, reached Hammonds Rocks. I dismounted and climbed around on the rocks for a while, lingering at the top of one outcrop of partially metamorphosed conglomerate with dense quartz veins and looked south into the mountains. It was beautiful. The faint white smeared beneath the naked trees shone in the places at the right angle to the sun. I sat there taking in the view for about a half an hour, then decided to head back.
The ride back was fast and cold, and took about twenty minutes compared to the hour plus that it took to get out. I did not stop until I got to my car. All in all it was a good ride. Unfortunately, it was only about 5 miles one way, instead of my projected 10. Next time I will go further. Again unfortunately, there are no pictures for I have no camera to my name.

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