Kit’n Kish 540K: Good Honest Pennsylvania Countryside
To complete our final mileage build before tapering for the upcoming Appalachian Adventure 1000K, Felkerino and I set out with our friend Jerry to ride an abbreviated version of Crista B.’s Kit’n Kish 600K Permanent, which she describes as follows:
Very challenging route north through the mountains of central Pennsylvania, with spectacular scenery. “High”lights include climbs over Catoctin, South Mountain, Kittatinny Mountain, Tuscarora Mountain, Blacklog Mountain, Stone Creek Ridge, Stone Mountain and Blue Mountain.
Some other points of interest include the Michaux State Forest, Greenwood Furnace State Park, the Kishacoquillas Valley, the Juniata River, Tuscarora State Forest, and the Children’s Lake in lovely Boiling Springs.
For a more detailed look at the route, see the Ride With GPS route here.
Felkerino, Jerry, and I agreed to a shorter 540K version (336 miles) of the ride, riding 192 miles on Day 1 and 144 miles on Day 2. This lopped off the flat to rolling stretch between Frederick and Thurmont, Maryland, and positioned us at the base of the first climb of the day. Perfect.
To really work the climbing legs, we’ve found it works best to put the bike on the car and head directly to the mountains. Good rides can be had from home, but to tackle big hills and reduce the frequent stop and go traffic flow, away from the city is best.
Originally, Felkerino and I planned to ride further south and cover roads near the Blue Ridge. However, the weekend forecast pushed us north and into new-to-me parts of Pennsylvania.
We exchanged large manicured horse farms for “good honest countryside,” as Jerry put it. We clawed our way over one spiky hill after another, and spent many miles drifting through the mountainside, bike and body responding deftly to our every push. It was awesome.
Weather was close to ideal. The sun kept us toasty (making the shaded climbing segments a pleasant reprieve). It descended in a small burst of fiery red, and the moon (a supermoon!) lit the way for us in the evening hours. Tall ripe cornfields flanked many roadsides.
As we rode quiet Pennsylvania country roads toward Greenwood Furnace the first night, we passed families in horse-driven buggies returning from their evening activities. The clip-clop sounds of the horses’ gaits and the moon’s bright company helped me savor the evening miles. Hardly a car passed.
The combination of easy company, a beautiful route over unfamiliar roads, the gorgeous moon and sun, and the delicious summer weather left me feeling like this ride was a gift. A difficult gift, but one I was lucky to receive.
It was also a confidence-builder. I needed to tackle a difficult ride with steady hills to feel mentally and physically ready for what we will be doing next. I needed to reacquaint myself with arriving in darkness to the overnight stop and hauling myself out of bed the next morning before the sunrise.
I thought I would have difficulty rising early for our second day’s ride, but I looked forward to continuing our exploration.
I’ve always preferred to ride in Virginia and West Virginia, finding parts north to be more unforgiving and somewhat forlorn. Towns once grand and bustling are mostly bedroom communities for neighboring cities now. Miles go by and there are no stores or people about.
But this lack of population brings a beauty to this part of the country that I overlooked. It’s quiet and lush in the summertime, and you have the mountains mostly to yourself. The good honest Pennsylvania countryside is divine.
Full set of ride photos here.