When and where did you first start riding?

I grew up in Connecticut. The first bicycle I remember riding was a Schwinn three speed. I rode it to school, around town and to friends’ houses. I stopped riding when I went to Gettysburg College and traded bikes for motorcycles.

Why do you ride a bike now?

I ride for the exercise, but there are many other benefits. You can cover so much ground on a bicycle and I enjoy seeing the landscape change through the seasons. A ride on a beautiful day is enjoyable and improves your outlook on life.

How often do you ride now?

During the spring, summer and fall I try to ride at least four times a week. I don’t like the cold weather, but two years ago I decided that I needed to ride during the winter. I acquired an old Bridgestone City bike. That year I was able to get in 500 miles from November through March. This year the weather was not as cooperative, and I got most of my exercise at the YWCA.

Where do you like to ride?

Most of my rides start out through the Gettysburg Battlefield and from there I go on some favorite routes. The Red Rock and Cunningham Road areas are scenic and don’t have much traffic. I enjoy seeing the birds (including a bald eagle) along the creek there. I also have some favorite routes that take me through Taneytown, Maryland, returning via Mason Dixon Road.

What bikes do you ride?

I have a steel Specialized road bike that I have been riding for 15 years. This winter I was looking for a new bike to ride in cold weather. Kent, at Gettysburg Bicycle and Fitness, helped me pick out a Trek FX Sport 4. The bike is much lighter than the old one and has a 20-speed drive-train. I am very happy with it.

How long have you been riding and how has your riding changed over time?

I was an avid runner and ran routes on the battlefield for over 25 years. I would pass my bicycle-riding friends there. Twenty years ago, they were finally able to persuade me to try bicycling. My son, an avid mountain and road biker, gave me an old Bridgestone road bike and I have been riding ever since. We had a routine of weekly rides and rode in at least seven Sea Gull Century (100 Miles) rides. Our pace might be a little slower now and less competitive than 20 years ago, but only slightly.

What interesting bicycle adventures have you had?

My favorite bike trip was riding from Brunswick, Maryland to Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania via the C&O Canal and Great Allegheny Passage Trail. I recommend both routes, but the C&O trail has a rough surface and is not suitable for road bikes. The 3,000-foot Paw Paw tunnel, constructed in the 1830s to 1840s, is one of the highlights of the C&O Canal Trail. The Great Allegheny Passage starts in Cumberland, Maryland and ends in Pittsburgh. The route runs over old railroad trestles and through tunnels. The trail surface is smooth crushed stone and the views are wonderful. We plan to ride to Pittsburgh in the near future.

What tips do you have for other cyclists? Being safe while riding needs to be the number one priority. I try to always remind myself to yield to cars regardless of who has the right of way and not to rush through intersections. Always wear a helmet and use both front and rear lights on your bike.

What changes would you like to see to improve bicycling in Adams County?

Adams County is a great place to ride. We have scenic roads many with light traffic. Most drivers are respectful of bicycles, but I would like to see more reminders for drivers to give bicycles their four feet of clearance.

Peter A. Sontheimer is retired from a career in restaurant management and catering. He lives in Gettysburg

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