Five days before winter storm Stella sauntered into the Harrisburg region, it was 60℉ and I was on my bike, wind streaming through my hair. As I’m sure you could have guessed from the title, it was my first ride of the season so I wanted to take it lightly. I hit up my longtime friend Mike and headed down to his house in New Cumberland. After slight deliberation we decided it would be best just to roll around New Cumberland instead of defaulting to the Greenbelt as we usually do. If you’re unfamiliar with New Cumberland, it sits across from Harrisburg along the western shore of the Susquehanna River.
Prior to that first ride I had been feeling the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Over the winter I managed not to do too much. And by too much, I mean not a whole lot of anything. Yes I read books and practiced my photography, but my physical exertion was near nothing. I even walked my dog less. Plus the dry indoor heat, coupled with my inability to drink more than 2 glasses of water per day, and I was dehydrated as well. A real cornucopia of easily avoidable symptoms and “sicknesses”. I hesitated to call them sicknesses, but I really liked the alliteration of the line.
We stuck to the back streets and side streets to avoid as much automobile traffic as possible and made our way towards our first stop, the New Market Boat Launch. On our way there we rolled through the Borough Park along the Yellow Breeches Creek before crossing it and heading to the Capital City Airport, or more specifically, the road that runs parallel to it. After a short pedal we were at the New Market Public Boat Launch.
After passing a few ball fields and a meager playground, we followed the asphalt under a railroad bridge to the nicely flowing Susquehanna. We parked our bikes and grabbed a few swigs of water. I figured it was a good time to unsheath my camera and make some photos. After a only a few minutes of peace and calm, a boat came screaming down the river and made an abrupt turn directly towards us. A red bass boat slide onto the shore and out hopped an older fella dressed in a plaid shirt and blue jeans. We said what up and Mike asked if he caught anything. He responded as if he had rehearsed the answer to this question the whole ride back to the launch.
“Yup! 14. Should have caught more this time of year though!”
At this point he noticed my camera.
“What are you guys doing? Shooting shhhots?!” As if he were going to say shooting the shit, and chose to go with a shots instead. Or now that I think about it, maybe he just had a stutter.
“Yup. And biking.” I responded.
Without saying another word he ran under the bridge and returned quickly with his truck and trailer. He backed down the ramp until his trailer was barely in the water. In my limited experience with boats, it seemed to me he should have placed it a bit deeper. He fired up his boat, backed it from the shore and shot towards the trailer. He came in a bit sharp, and to make matters worse, the trailer was out of the water just a bit too much. But this didn’t stop him from wrestling the boat onto the trailer and heading home.
Mike and I laughed at the abruptness of the whole situation, kicked it for a few more minutes then hopped on our hogs and sped off. At this point in the day the sun was beginning to set and the air was starting to crisp. We decided to pedal around for a bit more, but ultimately we needed to be back before darkness set in; neither of us had lights for our bikes. Upon sitting down after the ride I was flooded with euphoria. The type of euphoria you get only after significant physical exertion. As good as I felt, a cold reality had set in. There is no way 10 miles on flat pavement should produce this much of a biker’s high.
Damn, I am mad out of shape… and fat.
Something needs to change. Maybe everything.