This trip was a one nighter. I had repeatedly seen the Northern Central Railroad bike path on the map when I was looking for interesting places to bike ride. I had avoided it because I had found rail trails to be sometimes boring, less interesting than riding on a conventional road. This particular trail extends just over forty miles, starting in the northern Baltimore suburbs heading straight north, landing right in downtown York, Pennsylvania. On a September Sunday morning, I drove to Maryland from Chapel Hill and parked the car about two in the afternoon in a vast parking lot of an office complex in Hunt Valley, Maryland. I pedaled off towards the trail, a mile or two away. The landscape here is quite hilly, but the perfectly graded railroad bed, following a stream, cuts through the landscape like a knife.
Despite my preconceptions, there was almost always something to gaze at.
Suburban sprawl is the American way. Even though huge parts of Baltimore are depopulated, if you move far enough “out”, housing will be cheap enough, I guess. You can have it all here, just over the Pennsylvania line, about thirty eight miles from downtown Baltimore.
I have said before that York, Pennsylvania is the closest place to Chapel Hill where culturally it really feels like you have left home; you are no longer in The South. Actually, I learned on this trip that York was the largest Yankee city captured by the Confederacy, just before the Battle of Gettysburg. York is a working class town, which befits a place that has one of only two Harley Davidson factories. My downtown hotel room on the eighth floor had windows that you could actually open and lean out of.
Monday morning I rode around town and took pictures of buildings.
Riding back the way I came, I had a pleasant four hours in the saddle, before getting back in the car for the drive home. I even stopped off in the neighborhood of Hampden in Baltimore for a pleasant lunch. I had to get out of there by two thirty, however, as to beat the traffic leaving D.C. I was home by eight p.m.
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