Essay: On Patches for Bucks County Climbs
(2017) Cover photo was lifted from Bicycling Magazine and is credited to Mitch Mandel. I do not own the photo.
I would venture to say a vast majority of Americans under the age of 45 participated in organized soccer at one point or another. For those who played into their formative years, an added benefit showed itself after tournament games when teams would shake hands. The benefit was the orchestrated trading of team patches, a remarkably efficient trade-off executed in a manner that could make any event planner blush. One overlooked consideration was something like, what would we do with all these patches? Usually they found their way to an old boot box and forgotten about.
Just today I read the Adirondack Life 2017 Annual Guide to the Great Outdoors from start to finish and in it was an article talking about roughly fifteen ways an outdoors enthusiast could earn a patch. From hiking the tallest 46 peaks in upstate New York to several fire tower challenges to even one involving kids, there is a patch for several unique accomplishments. One of the accomplishments including cycling was titled, Warren County Cycling Challenge. While not officially a patch, finishers who ride a minimum of eight road or mountain bike rides around Lake George, North Creek, Schroon Lake, and surrounding regions can petition for a window decal and certificate.
That got me thinking about Bucks County. The summer cycling season is on the upswing and I cannot fathom that all the cyclists on county roads are locals. I’d like to think our area is a great cycling destination for people near and far (though we do lack accommodations of the sleeping variety, but I digress). Either we have a remarkably above average cycling community or we have a remarkable amount of riders who find their way into the central region of Bucks County.
Any person who reads about cycling is beyond aware of the presence of social media in cycling circles, too. There’s the ever-present Strava. It explains why any one or more of your cycling buddies will sprint mid conversation only to let the group catch up a few rods down the road. When inquiring just what the hell happened, the most common response is, “Sorry. Segment.” And it all makes sense. Similarly the presence of Instagram and its immediate feedback can be utilized. Riders love taking pictures of themselves or of other riders. (One picture we would like to see go away are the bikes lying in the middle of the road. I just want to comment if the person was ok after falling.) So taking photos could provide proof of an accomplishment.
Which brings me to my point. We have commented beyond numerous times of stinging climbs in our county. They may not be remarkable elsewhere – we don’t have miles-long Alps here – but they make up for it with character. Since the Rapha Festive 500 is a remarkable achievement of riding 500 kilometers between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, an event that scores a patch, perhaps we can join all these thoughts together. Let’s all sit down and name the toughest climbs in Bucks County: Uhlerstown, Dogwood Lane, Bridgeton Hill Road, Berger Road to name a few, and come up with a patch for riders to earn after slogging up all of them. Call it something like the Bucks Frontal Assault or something like that. Whether people earn it or not is up to their conscience. I’ll bet, like the Festive 500, it will send people out with inspiration to earn the near worthless roundel on iffy days. That way, after earning the patch, the accomplished can point to it and say, “Oh this old thing? Yeah it was nothing. I climbed all of Bucks County’s major ones.” And the listener will begin planning their visit to Bucks County.