Northern Central Railroad (NCR) Trail Sore Butts Biking

This is the second and final installment of Biked It, Liked It. Or rather, Biked It, It Was Fine, because really, we’d rather be hiking.

With my hips on the fritz, I can’t hike. Last weekend, Dar and I rode a semi-disastrous 10-ish miles. The actual riding part was fine, the overland portage in the middle that (a) did not result in lattes and (b) required backtracking all the way we’d already come with the bikes over a long boulder field with an injured shoulder that was even more injured by the time we got out was a shit show.

Irrationally, we decided to go riding again, but this time, on a proper trail, so we toted the bikes up to the Northern Central Railroad (NCR) Trail, a 20-mile stretch of rail-to-trail conversion that runs from Cockeysvile up to the Pennsylvania border. It’s mostly a nicely surfaced hard-packed gravelly surface with the occasional mud slalom. Road crossings are minimal and mostly of rural roads where there are few cars to dodge.

Total distance: 11.59 mi
Max elevation: 791 ft
Min elevation: 226 ft
Total climbing: 1146 ft
Total descent: -631 ft
Average speed: 0.00 mi/h

Not many photos since we’d have to get off the bikes to take them. This one is at the rest stop in Monkton where there is a cafe and actual bathrooms (which is overrun by river tubers in summer, but very parkable in early April).

The path is tree-lined and pleasant to ride. It was congested for maybe a mile north of the first parking lot, then we were alone most of the time. Portapotties appear at good intervals for a biker.

As we cycled along, upright and comfy on our cruisers, we talked about biking instead of hiking in Europe. Less of a burden on the back, no blisters.

Before starting, we thought we might ride up to the PA line and back. In the course of the route, we discovered that (a) I’m slow and (b) we need to acclimate more to sitting on bike seats, despite having wide, cushioned cruiser seats. We turned around at 11 miles, and my tailbone and other assorted contact points were so bruised that I was Very Unhappy for the last third and far less enthused about biking around Europe.

I bought a narrower memory foam seat and gel cover for it afterward on the advice of the Bike Guy at Dick’s — wide seats are better for short rides, narrow seats are better for long rides. I guess we’re doing this again.


Distance22.5 miles
Elevation Gain100 feet
Moving Time3 hours, 30 minutes
Total Time4 hours, 00 minutes
Average Pace10 minutes per mile / 6.5 mph
Food ConsumedBefore the ride: ground turkey and roasted veggies
During the hike: 1 clif bar
Temperature Range48 to 55°F
Cell ReceptionDodgy