On more than one of my blog posts for Schwinn, I’ve referred to our yearly extended family summer vacation in Ocean City, Maryland. Bicycles by the thousands flock to OC. It was during this vacation (normally in August) in 2010, watching all the bikes along Coastal Highway where I was inspired to restore my vintage Varsity . This year was our 4th year of bringing our bikes to the beach for the week’s vacation.
My usual ride for OC since 2013 has been on my Ride of a Lifetime sweepstakes prize Schwinn 4 One-One (known affectionately as “the USS Wisconsin,” named for its battleship gray color and after BB-64, and Schwinn’s home state.) When I was chosen as a winner in that contest I specifically chose the 411 Urban bike for its internal hub Sturmey-Archer 5 speed drivetrain and integrated handlebar basket which is exactly the same size as a 6-pack of beverages of your choice. It’s also a great way to carry a 6 pack of Dunkin’ Donuts back to the condo for the (adult) kids’ breakfast. The 411 is fast enough to keep up the rat race pace on Coastal Highway, but cruiser enough to ride at the leisurely pace of the Boardwalk and Northside Park. That said, the tough decision was upon me. To take ‘the battleship’ on vacation this year, or the new Vantage? I stuck with the Vantage, mainly because I thought it wise to continue blogging with the bike I was given to blog about for 2016.
Ocean City is on the Barrier Island of Fenwick and is 10 miles long, from the Delaware line to “the Inlet” that separates Ocean City from Assateague Island. The Inlet connects the Atlantic Ocean to the series of bays that separate Fenwick Island from the mainland of the Delmarva Peninsula. It’s comprised of three geographic areas; South Ocean City, where the Boardwalk, the Inlet, and marinas are, North Ocean City where you’ll find high rise condominiums, and West Ocean City across the Drawbridge of US Route 50 where there are private residences, Outlet shopping, golf courses and Ocean City’s airport.
Our family’s condo where we stay for vacation is on the beach at the 111th block of Coastal Highway in The Irene. Coastal Highway is the main artery for traffic, running almost the whole length of the town.
Throughout the week’s vacation we’ll take a variety of routes, usually starting off exploring Northside Park and neighborhoods on the bay side of North Ocean City. Northside Park is on 125th Street and has walking/running/biking paths along the perimeter and surrounding a lagoon. There are baseball, softball, lacrosse/soccer/football fields with concession stands, restrooms, playgrounds, etc. Crabbing for Blue Crabs is a popular activity off the pier that extends into Assawoman Bay. Sunday nights from mid July to Labor Day Sunday Ocean City holds “Sundaes in the Park with live entertainment and ice cream sundaes, followed by a fireworks display at 9. We bike there for the same reason we started biking in the first place; to avoid traffic leaving fireworks.
Bicycles are allowed on the Ocean City Boardwalk during the season from 6 am to 11 am every day, and all day from a week or so after Labor Day to Memorial Day weekend. We ride from our condo in North OC along Coastal Highway to the north end of the boards on 26th street, then ride the 2 1/4 miles to the inlet on the boardwalk.
To finish up the week we turn North and take the ride through Delaware’s “Quiet Resorts” up Coastal Highway into Bethany Beach. On Delaware’s side of the state line is the beach town of Fenwick Island. Between the resort town and Bethany Beach is Fenwick Island State Park and some residential neighborhoods. From 11100 Coastal Hwy in OC to Bethany Beach’s boardwalk is about 10 miles. We’re kinda “equidistant from french fries,” with the iconic Thrasher’s French Fries on OC’s Boardwalk, and Boardwalk Fries on Bethany’s.
Since my last post, August, and through September took us to some of our usual hangouts, including our first visit to the Ma and Pa Heritage Trail in our hometown of Bel Air, MD. The Ma and Pa was named after the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad and is a short, but very hilly trail in the town of Bel Air, beginning about 3 and a half miles from our home, passing the Harford County Equestrian Center and ending at Annie’s Playground in Fallston, MD. Round trip from our driveway is a little more than 13 miles, but feels like 25 on the other Rail Trails we ride because of the terrain. Definitely one of the rides where I’m most happy with the Schwinn Vantage, since it’s a hybrid sort of a ride. Neighborhood roads connect to town roads which lead to the gravel trail. This was also year 4 of our now traditional Labor Day York end of the York Heritage Trail trip, driving the car to York, PA and riding the North Central Railroad trail south. We turned around just past the Hanover Junction Station in time to see the Steam into History scenic train ride’s replica 1860’s train arriving at Hanover Junction to pick up some Civil War re-enactor “Union Soldiers.” President Lincoln stopped at Hanover Junction on his way to Gettysburg.
September 18 was a weekend between road trips, so Robin and I took advantage of a cloudy Sunday home, and I took the ’78 Varsity on its annual Renaissance Anniversary neighborhood ride, taking a rest stop on the swing set at the school where we first met in 5th grade.
For our summer season finale we made a trip out to Frostburg to visit our grandson and take our 3rd ride on the GAP. This time, I took my own advice from my June and July blog post and we turned left at the Frostburg Depot, rode north to the Big Savage Tunnel and rode downhill from there to Cumberland on what I dubbed our “Three Tunnel Tour,” through Big Savage, Borden, and Brush Tunnels.
Crossing the Mason-Dixon Line back into Maryland, the Vantage turned its 400th mile (421 at the time of this writing). My goal for the year is 500, so with another month or so, and Fall being the best time for riding, I’m hoping to accomplish a few more journeys on the NCR, and one of my favorite fall biking pastimes; riding through the neighborhoods checking out the Halloween decorations. My classic Schwinn Varsity’s birthday is Halloween Day, and this year he turns 39 (for the first time)!