Guest Blogger: Dorothy Blair
Sunday morning found the intrepid PA IPL bikers splayed out on the floor of the Orbisonia UMC outreach center floor, 17 sleeping bags arranged around the four walls like so many dominos. The day was chilly and dreary, but at 7:30 Pastor Ed Seeley arrived with a huge deep dish of egg custard and an out-sized crock stuffed with hot cakes (still hot!) to be eaten with syrup or yogurt. We all dug in like we hadn’t eaten since yesterday’s lunch!
Today was our most challenging so far: 55 miles, most of these up steep or rolling hills and over Cowan’s Gap near Burnt Cabins, all the way to Hagerstown, MD. Some of us left early to get on the road, but most attended 9 a.m. “Bible Study” with about 25 members of the congregation. Ken Scott, carpenter and builder, spoke on the book of Nehemiah. Fortified with food for both body and spirit, we biked off, through Penn’s Woods, over streams and by dairy farms, up, up those hills to meet the other bikers.
Notable sights along the way: the historical placards between Orbisonia and Shade Gap, beef cows on a picture-perfect farm, our reunion with the other bikers in Cowan’s Gap. Lake in the background, we snarfed down the plentiful food that Ben and Dave brought from State College in our very own sag wagon.
But we barely had time to swallow before time considerations drove us back to our bike seats (some of the younger folks still wet from their chilly swim) and down a 3-mile hill to the Mercersburg side of Cowan’s Gap. The push was on to bike the remaining 32 miles to Hagerstown before 5:30 p.m. and a dinner prepared by “Open Table” at the REACH homeless shelter attached to Christ’s Reformed United Church of Christ.
Despite the multiple bike breakdowns and flats today, we spring through the last of grassy, horsey, rolling PA into Hagerstown by 5:25 p.m. Dead tired, we are greeted by real beds, sheets, and pillows. A delicious meal of soup, chef’s salad and multiple dessert choice, prepared by Bill Pike, leader of the Hagerstown Open Table program. We learn through a short speech by a young, formerly homeless man helped by Open Table that 8-10 mentors commit a year to helping an individual in trouble to flourish, simply by using their own social capital and skills. He is back on his feet, supporting his son (now in first grade) and soon will himself become a mentor. You can learn more about his important twist on helping at opentable.org.
As I write this, our young contingent is engaged happily in game playing while other bikers are repairing their bikes, chatting or reading. Soon it will be lights out, to sleep like the dead so that we can be packed and ready for our 8 a.m. breakfast.
Donate online to PA IPL in support of the PA-to-DC cyclists
or send a check, memo: bike 2017 to PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801
MANY THANKS to our 2017 silver sponsor Sun Directed