Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bear-ly Made Ride Down Gold Mine Road

After drill on Sunday, I rode up and down Gold Mine Road north of Fort Indiantown Gap.  The 5-mile climb has many challenges, but until today, they all had to do with the road itself.  Gold Mine Road is a left turn of Route 443 north of Lebanon.  As soon as you get on the road it drops steeply for about 30 feet, then starts the long climb up.

The first mile is mostly up, but has a couple of short descents and is mostly out in the sun.  Mile two is the beginning of the woods that line the road all the way to the top.  Mile two gets steeper until it is 17% just before the crest at two miles.  Then the road drops steeply down for a half mile.  Very steep.  The second time I rode down this stretch I hit 57mph.  Today I hit 54.  At the bottom of that drop, the road goes up for just under 2.5 miles to the Lebanon County line.

I rode up, turned around and flew back down.  In three minutes I was making the difficult climb up the steep half mile in the middle of the hill.  At the top I went straight down through the tight, steep right and left down to the edge of the woods.  When I went around the last turn and came out of the woods, I clamped on the brakes (at 40 mph) and pulled off the road.  A hundred yards in front of me was a big black bear on all fours stopped in the middle of the road.  He was facing across the road to the west, but stopped with the yellow line running under his belly.

He stayed where he was. I stayed where I was.

Then two cars came down the hill.  They slowed as they approached the bear, but didn't stop.  When the first car got very close, the bear ran into the trees on the west side of the road.  I turned around and rode back up the hill about 200 yards.  I wanted speed.  I turned around and pedaled hard to the spot where Mr. Bear ran into the woods.  I couldn't see him.  I kept going.  I know that I would lose in any encounter with a bear.

Last week they warned us about bears in Wyoming and I never saw one.  I didn't expect to see one in PA and there he was!

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