Events: Central Bucks Covered Bridges Ride and Why It’s a Must-Do
(2015) If there’s a perfect way to inhale the feeling of Bucks County in the fall, it’s by selecting one of the five routes offered amidst the Covered Bridges Ride. View it as Bucks County's Il Lombardia, or The Classic of Falling Leaves. I finally got a chance to do this event two years ago, and I enjoyed it immensely. The starting point, the route, and the weather all came together to provide a great day out. If you missed the Nock Century - which uses many of the same northern roads - this is a fine way to replace it.
To witness this event’s popularity, one should look no further than the amount of cars occupying Tinicum Park’s open field on October 18 this year. It will be transformed into a glistening array of bike haulers, and some of the license plates may shock those looking for an open spot as to the distance traveled. The park itself is beautiful. It’s the focal point for registration, for bike checks, for the ride start on the canal path (every distance), and it’s the lunch location for the post-ride festivities. The nearby hills all seem to plunge into the field at Tinicum Park to create a field of expanse and solitude.
When I rode the Covered Bridges Ride in 2013, it was a crisp fall day. The leaves were at their peak or close to it. Any breeze that kicked up was muffled by the welcome climb up Tinicum Church Road that allows riders to take in the beautiful scenery at a reduced pace. This is ranked as one of my favorite roads from any ride. With Swamp Creek trickling a few feet from the road, it can be almost meditative. What’s best is the route is one covered bridge deep already – the Erwinna Covered Bridge less than a mile from the start.
Speaking of covered bridges there are six on the long route. What’s interesting is that there are twelve total bridges in the area (thirteen if a short ride across the Delaware is looking to hit the only covered bridge in New Jersey). If one is feeling exceedingly brave, then attempting Uhlerstown – renowned for arguably 30% incline, post bridge – is right down the canal path at the end. Luckily, that bridge is not on the charts for the road ride.
The camaraderie is genuine throughout the ride. Riders of all types push the pedals around upper Bucks County to peak around corners for the quintessential vantage of the ubiquitous red-and-white spans. From the racer who is capping a race season to the once-a-year touring rider, the Covered Bridges Ride has something for everyone. With five distances from which to choose, everyone can enjoy one of the unique routes solely advantaged to Bucks County. Plus, with eight bike shops signed on to provide support, one worry is removed regarding roadside help if a mechanical should arise.
To end the event in grand style, the Covered Bridges Ride provides an exquisite post-ride atmosphere with remarkable food. Slide into one of the picnic tables to get to know those who rode the event as well as sit in the shadow of the beautiful Tinicum Barn. Being in a rush to head home will take away a lot of the enjoyable final moments of the day. Remember, people come from afar to do this event; they may be looking for a welcoming face and an invite to join the conversation. With the perfect array of routes, the happy faces at the rest stops, the unique aspect of touring Bucks’ covered bridges, and the post-ride festivities, it would be a shame to miss this year’s running of the Covered Bridges Ride.
The October 18th Central Bucks Bicycle Club's Covered Bridges Ride offers five distance options between 63 miles and twenty miles. Online registration closes October 16 ($40), with day-of registration priced at $45. Last year's proceeds went to eight charities related and unrelated to cycling.