In honor of the Tour de France and to celebrate my last 100-mile ride before Lake Placid I decided to have some fun and planned “Le Tour de Harford County” – a 100 mile ride throughout the county highlighting my favorite areas and local attractions and showing off why Harford County is an awesome place to train. Unfortunately, 70 miles in I managed to completely wreck my bike, and the tour ended prematurely. We’ll get to that later. I did manage to hit most of my favorite places. A thank you to some awesome training partners, Brian and Scott, for riding with me today.
70 Miles. 3,957 feet of climbing. 3.5 Hours. 19.8 MPH
Mile 0 – The Arena club
Why It’s Awesome – I love the Arena Club. I’ve either worked there or been a member there for the past 8 years. The staff is awesome and the trainers there have really helped to motivate me and push me to pursue Ironman. The facility itself is awesome too. There are two fields (one indoor, one outdoor), which is great for boot camps, sprints, and drills. The cycling studio is great during the winter when I can’t bike outdoors, and their 25 meter pool is open year round. I also have an awesome support system there. My training partners, coaches, and trainers are like a second family to me and without them, I would never have gotten this far in my training.
Mile 18 – Jarrettsville
Why It’s Awesome – There’s not much in the Jarrettsville/North Harford area. Which is exactly why I love riding out there. The hills are rolling hills along the vast farmlands of Harford County. You see everything from acres of corn fields, cows, horses, pigs, chickens, etc. The roads are smooth and not extremely busy, which makes for great training. Did I mention the rolling hills? If you need a place for steep grades (up to 18%) and want to do some hill repeats on the bike or run, come out to North Harford. I also love to look out across the farms, where you’ll see houses that remind me of Little House on the Prairie all the way to those with a plantation-esque façade. Come ride and really take in the fresh air.
Mile 32 – Friends Park/The Ma and Pa Trail
Harford County is also home to the Ma and Pa Trail. This trail is a gravel/road trail that follows the old railroad between York, PA and Baltimore Maryland. One trail is located in Bel Air and is pretty hilly. It’s great for a challenging run. The other is in Forrest Hill and is mostly flat. Both trails are great to train on, are family and pet friendly, and are well shaded with bathrooms and water fountains. Together, they total about 7 miles of trails each way.
Mile 42 – Brooms Bloom Dairy
Why It’s Awesome – Brooms Bloom Dairy is a farm on 543. They make their own cheese, ice cream, meats, etc. and everything is fresh. The food is great, the owners always know you when you walk in, and they have live music on the porch each week. Even on the coldest winter days, there will be a line out the door of this place. If you’re ever in Bel Air, this a place to check out.
Mile 56 – Bulle Rock
Why It’s Awesome – Fun Fact: The Bulle Rock Golf Course hosted the LPGA from 2005-2009. I guess that makes Harford County somewhat nationally relevant.
Mile 60 – Havre de Grace
Why It’s Awesome – Havre de Grace is historic. It sits at the mouth of the Susquehanna River of the Chesapeake Bay. It was a major location during the War of 1812 and the Revolutionary War, and was actually voted upon to be the capital of the United States. Havre de Grace is great for kayaking and they have an awesome boardwalk that follows the river. If you’re here in May, check out the War of 1812 re-enactment. It’s pretty cool. The food is also great.
Mile 70 – Crash
Why It’s Awesome – It’s not. It’s not at all. With only 30 miles left, I was planning on riding back through Susquehanna State Park, an amazing park that hosts the HAT Run Ultra Marathon each year. I was also planning on going into the town of Bel Air, the county seat of Harford County, to go by my local running store, Charm City Run, and the place where I get all of my track workouts done, Bel Air High School. Unfortunately, I crashed taking in the amazing scenery of the Susquehanna River and completely totaled my bike. Luckily, I only suffered from a scrapped knee and some soft tissue bruising. Still, it’s not the most ideal situation three weeks before Ironman Lake Placid. Guess I’m going bike shopping.
Despite the crash and the shortened bike ride, I had an awesome time on the ride. I love Harford County. It’s scenic, hilly, and there’s something about it that makes me feel good. Maybe it’s all that fresh manure going to my head, but that’s the country for you. I’ve met awesome people and have an awesome support group here. In true Ironman fashion, I’m off to finish those last 30 miles … on a stationary bike.