Events Iron Tour

French Creek Iron Tour 2013: Part the First

Basil and I returned from a trip out of state just in time to ride in this year’s Iron Tour: 34 miles through northern Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Basil was most surprised to see this sign at the entrance to the grounds.  A level-headed sort, he took it in stride.

This event benefits the French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust; cycling through preserved lands is a great way to remind us how much preservation contributes to quality recreation.

We hadn’t ridden far when we saw a casualty.

SAG wagons were in evidence throughout the ride; I saw three, which was pretty impressive.  Registration closed at 18,000 riders; it’s likely these volunteers were busy.

I had vowed in advance to photograph each bridge, but immediately  missed the first one, distracted by attempts to orient to my cue sheet.  I was doing better by the time we got to the first covered bridge.

There were hills.  Many hills. Steep hills.

Basil posed while I rested. I have never walked so many hills in my life.  I was not alone, however.  My Garmin claims that we climbed a total of 1420 feet — quite a bit more than the previous highest tally, which was roughly 850 feet on the  5 Boro Tour last month.

I had been miserable the day before the Iron Tour, with the worst allergies I’d had in decades:  18 hours of sneezing, running nose, eyes itching, coughing, shallow breathing, and watery lungs.  It took forever before my body calmed down enough so that I could sleep.  Because of a long-standing medical problem, I cannot take antihistamines, so there was no option but to ride it out.  Worst of all?  The fear that I wouldn’t make it to the Iron Tour the next day.

When I woke up, though, almost all of the symptoms had abated; however, I’d not slept well, and was very tired, so I probably walked more than I would otherwise have done.  Nonetheless, these inclines were more than I could have handled even in my present top form.

It didn’t matter; the day, and surroundings, were beautiful, cyclists were friendly, and it was a fine event.

Covered bridges weren’t the only ones of interest.

This one had unusual slats, studded with steel.

Particularly after my recent New England trip, I was amused to spot this steeple in the distance.

The event organizers advised us to talk to any horses we encountered.  Apparently most horses don’t have problems with bicycles, but are troubled by the silent approach.

These two, and their companion, were having a rollicking good time, and paid no attention to us at all.

Basil was eager to dally a bit in the tall grass himself, though.

Pennsylvania has its share of stone dwellings.

I’m fond of these, where ever they are found. Though they house humans, they seem quite organic in these bucolic surroundings.

Our trees are not quite as dense, or as majestic, as those I had seen the previous week, but they are pleasing, just the same.

Though it may not be obvious from this shot, everyone worked those inclines!

Basil was tolerant of my human frailties, and posed against a fine Pennsylvania rock while I paused stopped to snap a few pictures.

Every now and then, in this part of the world, one encounters an intersection of stone buildings clustered together at the junction of once-busy thoroughfares.  Usually they are the vestiges of a former community, now re-purposed into private homes, or newer businesses.

There’s a third one here, that I couldn’t manage to get into the shot.  We don’t have a lengthy history here in the USA, of this kid of settlement, but I like knowing that these structures have been around for a century or two.  That’s a long time in North American architectural terms.

Our first rest stop was at the Vincent Baptist Church.  Gatorade, water, and a nice (and fulsome) spread of bite-sized foods were provided, along with grapes, oranges and bananas.  In keeping with the experimenting Mr. Diarist and I have been doing lately, I appreciated this real-food approach.

I had half a banana, along with my own provisions: Nutella on particularly dense home-made “French” bread.

I took a couple of pictures, including one of this Bacchetta — a recumbent I hadn’t seen before:

There were two at this event, but they weren’t together either time I spied them.

Another cyclist was riding his Dahon Zero G (?), with serious tires (this must be the mountain bike version!):

Then it was onward. I laughed when I saw this, but a passing road biker called out and said it was a different kind of hill — compared to the killers we’d already encountered.  This one started just after a right hand turn, and was short, but deadly.

That may be him on the left, he may have ridden up. Everybody else I saw ended up walking.

It looks so benign, doesn’t it?  It wasn’t — and there were more to come!