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The 2018 Greencastle Great Escape

Will miracles never cease?

For the fourth year in a row – every year we've held the event, actually – we managed to dodge a weather bullet.  But this time, just barely.

Attendance at this year's Greencastle Great Escape was slightly below last year's numbers – a result, no doubt of a very wet and late-arriving Spring.  And the forecast for the weekend was not very promising, either:  a  chance of rain on Friday, and then rain all day on Saturday and Sunday.  Even so, almost everybody who had registered for the event showed up, and we even got a few who had not preregistered.

Friday's weather was actually pretty decent and most of us opted to do the revised Fort McCord ride.  Fort McCord was a settlers' refuge at the base of Kittatinny Mountain that was built by William McCord, a Scots-Irish settler, during the French and Indian War.  On April 1, 1756 Shingas' band of Delawares overran the fort and killed or carried off its 27 inhabitants.  A militia company under Captain Alexander Culbertson pursued the Delawares, catching up with them three days later only to suffer 80 percent casualties in the Battle of Sideling Hill.

But it wasn't the history of the place so much as as the breathtaking mountain scenery that made this such a great ride.  In fact, standing at the site of the fort, one can only wonder how something so grisly could happen in such an idyllic setting.  The other thing that made this a great ride was our lunch stop, the Cheese Haus at Whispering Brook, just outside of Edenville.  In addition to the usual items you'll find in a country store, the Cheese Haus sells a variety of raw milk cheeses – and great hoagies on homemade rolls.

The weather forecast for Saturday turned out to be greatly exaggerated – no, make that just plain wrong.  It turned out to be a great day for riding, so great that we chose rides that took us far from the ride start.  Most of us decided to do the Foot of the Mountain ride or the longer Whitetail Express, both of which go through Mercersburg and stop at the Foot of the Mountain Restaurant in Cove Gap enroute to Fort Loudon.  Others decided to ride past the strawberry fields of Country Creek Farm to Trickling Springs Creamery just south of Chambersburg.

Sunday, however, looked to be a different story entirely.  All three of the weather forecasts I consulted were predicting a 100 percent chance of rain for Sunday, and the clouds were already moving in Saturday afternoon.  I was actually wondering if riders would just decide to skip the last day and head home Saturday night.  Nope.  Michael and Evie's happy hour on Saturday afternoon was well-attended, and everybody showed up for the group dinner at the John Allison Public House that evening.

We gathered at the ride start the next morning under a dark sky that held, not the promise, but the certainty of rain.  The only question was when it would hit us.  One of the nice things about living in the age of the smart phone is that you can consult a moving weather radar map you are holding in the palm of your hand.  Several riders did this and confidently assured the rest of us that we had at least two, maybe three hours before we would get drenched.  So we decided to ride.  Prudently, we all chose to ride Just in Time, a 30-mile loop to Mercersburg that was the shortest ride on the list.  As it turned the ride was aptly named, as the skies opened up literally minutes after the last riders returned to the parking lot.

Greencastle Great Escape 2018

Phil Manger