Ride leader: Steve Palincsar
Members: Ken Meredith, Ron Altemus, Patricia Sanders, Janell Saunders, Karen McMillan, Debby Bowman
Weather: Sunny, clear skies, a surprisingly chilly-feeling low 40s at the start rising to the low 50s, and what felt like a good bit more than the "slight" winds predicted.
Route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/31891307 34 mi, 1142' elevation gain.
Mishaps & mechanicals: none
We leave Northern Senior Center onto a virtually empty Three Notch Trail, turning right on MD-6 as we almost never do, riding on a shoulder we can see, thanks to steel tire tracks, a horse-hoof channel beaten into the pavement and occasional mounds of horse exhaust is used by Amish buggy traffic, past farms and barns well set back from the roadway we never really noticed before, turning off the highway onto Roundhill for almost a mile, to emerge back onto 6 just before the turn onto Dubois.
Janell and I have been here on Monday, going in the opposite direction, but everything looks different this way - especially the 35 mph descent that is now a 120' climb up from Trinity Church Run. We turn left on Meredith and left again on Trinity Church, going a mile and a half before turning left again onto Ryceville.
We're into Amish country here, and the names along side the road reflect that. It's close to noon, and church services must be over, because for the next 30 or 40 minutes we see a succession of Amish buggies one after the other heading towards us.
A short stop at the Amish schoolhouse at Brookline Rd while I visit the rest room and Janell photographs a sleeping cow, and we turn left on North Ryceville. More buggies, more farms and a well-defined horse-hoof channel. It's much better than it was two years ago - before the road was repaved it was a long, narrow pothole that went on for miles - but it didn't take long for iron-shod hooves to make their mark and we carefully steer clear the depression.
A quick stretch on Thompson Corner Rd takes us to Lockes Crossing. Past a large Amish farm, around the curve, down the hill, a right across Chaptico Creek and up a short, steep 60' rise at a 9.7% grade, a 40' plunge and a climb right back up as we cross another branch of the creek, and we're at Old Village Rd and Mechanicsville Elementary School.
We're considering this as a starting point for the May Metric, so we check out the parking lot and confirm that there's ample parking for the event with a portolet on the Three Notch Trail just at the entrance to the school. Moving the May Metric here would get us away from the Brandywine Rd / Branch Ave intersection, would give us an all-class ride in St Marys County for the first time in many years, and would provide a scenic trail ride that would be part of the longer routes.
The Three Notch Trail takes us to Mechanicsville Road, where we wave on a dozen cars (confusing them no end) before we turn right. We don't often ride on Mechanicsville (even though there's a wide shoulder) and virtually never in this direction.
We can see a few farms by the side of the road, and I noticed on the map if we turn right on Cox Drive there's a network of roads off to the right though the hills that appear to connect: Asher, Tin Top School, Yowaiski Mill. Although they're only a couple of miles from the Amish farms on Woodburn Hill the roads don't connect and the satellite images show what looks like a housing development rather than farms, but there's no time to explore today. Perhaps later this year we'll check it out.
In five miles, we're at Chaptico. After a short break, the faster folk take off leaving Ron, Debby and me to finish on our own. On Baptist Church I can hear Ron and Debby talking about performers giving concerts in the local area in the next few months, and in a few minutes we've turned left onto the Three Notch Trail heading back to Northern Senior Center.