Rides We Like: Portions of the Fools Classic
(2016) One of the great aspects of riding around Bucks County is after all these miles, I still find surprises. It’s exciting to find a new experience, log it into memory for later, and think about how I’d come back to experience it. Riding with Mike (him again) we’ve developed a system of investigating portions of Bucks County immediately instead of saying we’ll check something out later.
Gearing up for the spring riding season, we decided to check out one of the infamous climbs on the Fools Classic: Lodi Hill. We took our typical route out to parallel the Delaware River. Our old Headquarters route paid homage to the cyclocross’ World Championship Zolder race (same day) by requiring us to dismount, shoulder the bike, and pick through several inches of snow on the unplowed closed road. For those keeping score, Genny the donkey still didn’t give us the time of day. Mike had to resort to tire levers to pry the snow out of his cleats.
One of our new experiences involved my comment that I wanted to check out Municipal Road. A sign at its commencement had always interested me by stating a creek crossing was 3500 feet ahead. Mike stated we should check it out. We plunged down to a thinning road with thinning asphalt coverage. In front of us was definitely a remarkable water crossing. It looked as if the plow trucks just pushed the snow into the water and probably threw it in reverse. We vowed to return in the summer to cross it. We turned around and embarked up the rather irksome climb back to Headquarters Road. Yet another new road could be added to places I've now been.
We trudged up Tinicum Church Road admiring just how beautiful the scenery was with the snow pack. I solidified at this time I had overdressed for the day. The temperature was flirting with the fifty- degree mark and I was climbing in fleece-lined kit. I had ditched the gloves already. The scenery made up for it though with pine groves and streams.
We then made the treacherous turn onto Red Cliff Road. The hollow in front of us opened up as it spun to our left-hand side. It was another sketchy decent. I had remembered this portion of the Fools Classic. Brian, the race director, had stated this intersection was of particular interest in as much that if we made a wrong turn here, we would essentially do another lap and curse him the entire time. I knew we were getting close to Lodi.
Quietly the entrance revealed itself. A large bluff to our left gave us the indication we were in the area. We wondered if it was even plowed this time of year; Happily it was. Mike went first. All I could remember was the double- switchback waiting for us. The gravel was a mixed bag. It was muddy in the gutters as well as down the middle, but some tracks were dry giving the tires purchase.
This is probably only the fourth time I’ve tackled this hill. Wouldn’t you know a majority of those times a car has been a part of those experiences? Today would be my third ascent with a car. This isn’t even a tertiary road; it’s a forgotten road that apparently people use regularly. We met up with the car on the first switchback. It was coming down.
A few meters up the dirt road and the second switchback, an even steeper turn, presented itself. Mike’s wheel began slipping. I sat back down to keep the tire firm. The hill was getting the best of me. A left turn showed another portion of climbing. Then an intersection revealed itself meaning that it was all over. This intersection is where people take a break during the Fools Classic to consult the route or take in nutrition. It's just about as far as the Fools goes north.
We continued to move about the northern part of the County. We took another dirt road on a whim and found it to be a dead end. Once we got our bearings we rode easy back trying to take in the beautiful scenery amidst beautiful weather. Would you believe we passed one more road that featured a creek crossing? We said we would come back to that in the summer too.
My legs lost their gas close to the end but that wasn’t the point. We managed to get out and ride on a day that easily could have been a roller day. The ride ended at the house where we caught up over coffee- a great way to end any ride.
I am still in disbelief at the amount of return a bicycle can give me on any given ride. It can be a coping skill for some; it can be a social gathering for others. It could be a tourism tool, or it could be the way to the fastest one-hour workout possible. Discovering new traits about the area in which I live is certainly on that list. I’ll always come back to these areas, for no place is ever the same for long.