This past weekend, my cycling pals and I were once again able to participate in the 2013 Apple Butter Boil Ride outside of Liverpool, PA. This is the third or fourth time we did this ride – and, while the route is mostly the same every year, it’s still a favorite!
If you’ve never ridden the roads of Perry and Juniata County before, you’re really missing some nice cycling. Traffic is minimal (you’re about as likely to encounter an Amish buggy as you are a motor vehicle). Roads are in good shape. And there’s enough difference in the terrain to keep you from being bored!
The Apple Butter Boil Ride is a no-frills, sort-of organized event. From what I understand, it’s been going on for years (one of the folks from the Harrisburg Bicycling Club told us he’s been participating since the 1970’s (and I think he was one of the original organizers)).
You may be wondering why I called it both “no-frills” and “sort-of organized.” Let’s start with the “sort-of” part first. While the ride is listed as “a great ride to end the riding season,” it doesn’t have the same organization of most, er, organized rides that you attend. There is no cost (awesome!). There are no long lines for check-in (awesome!). In fact, the ride maps were just placed under someone’s rear windshield wiper. You just picked up the map and rode away!
The “no frills” part of my description is pretty evident. There are no rest stops. There are no sponsored food tents. And there is no SAG vehicle. You’re pretty much on your own. While some may not like that, it’s pretty much like every other ride you do from your house – only it’s a different route that gives you some breathtaking central Pennsylvania scenery! Just take your phone in case you run into a problem.
Speaking of the route, there are actually 3 to choose from: 12, 28, and 50 miles (well, actually 53.58 – but that’s just the cycling nerd in me). I remember our group’s first year participating. We had made up our mind that we were going to do the 28-mile loop. As we prepared to begin, a group of older ladies mentioned that they were getting ready to do the same loop.
You guessed it! Our male pride got in the way. As those ladies pedaled off, we all gave each other that knowing look – you know…..the one that says: “We’ve got to do the 50 mile – or we’re a bunch of wimps!” So, we pedaled in the opposite direction and happily took in 50+ miles. It’s the same route we’ve done ever since.
Maybe you’re wondering why the ride is called the Apple Butter Boil Ride. That’s the other great thing about this ride. It happens on the day that Barner’s Church has their annual Apple Butter Boil. The local folks are up bright and early with their kettles making quarts and pints of homemade apple butter – and those quarts and pints are available for sale. In addition to that, there is homemade apple cider, and even apple butter sundaes. Couple all of those goodies with some good old-fashioned soups, barbecues, pies and other forms of deliciousness – and you got yourself the makings of one fantastic day of bike riding!
Unfortunately, now you’ll need to wait until next year to participate in the Apple Butter part – but the ride itself can be done anytime. If you’re headed to the area, drop me a line and I’ll be happy to ride the loop with you.