Local loop to New Holland PA
Saturday Jul 31, 2021
(~ 740 miles)
When Dr. Jon “Hammy” Tan posted up another of his Ride-To-Eat events at Yoder’s Country Market Restaurant down in New Holland PA, I was happy to realize that circumstances and schedule would finally coalesce to allow me to experience this famous establishment for myself. Hammy runs a lot of motorcycle rally events and many of them have started and/or ended at Yoder’s, one of his favorites eateries.
Is Yoder’s famous in certain circles because of Hammy, or did he choose it because of it’s reputation? Chicken or egg? 🤔 Guess we may never know, but I had to find out what I could, after a few years of seeing pictures of bountiful and fresh-looking breakfast buffet plates. Sampling shoofly pie, a regional Pennsylvania staple, for the first time was also part of this day’s quest.
It was a beautiful riding day, with crisp morning temperatures in the 50s (rare this summer), that would only reach up to the 70s later in the afternoon. I was up early and left home around 05:30, picking up I-95 just a few miles from my house and barreling south through Rhode Island and across Connecticut, heated liner on low , and enjoying my first full day two-wheel outing since returning from the Iron Butt Rally a few weeks ago.
I hit some heavy traffic around Norwalk, so I jogged slightly north to pick up the Merritt Parkway to enjoy the more scenic route, with no trucks. I circled around the “State of NYC” area on I-287 without a hitch, then ran into heavy traffic on I-78. Maybe it’s just been my timing on various trips, but generally I’ve made good time heading west along this interstate in the past. Alas, not today.
I’d planned to take freeway out to Bethel before cutting south on local roads that I picked from the map. Due to the earlier detour and now this heavier traffic, I’d be too far behind schedule, so I let Waze lead me the remainder of the way via US 222.
While participating in various rallies I’ve ridden through the Lancaster/Berks Counties area, I’ve been disgruntled at the amount of traffic squeezed onto the scenic two-lane state roads that crisscross the region, and jam up the stoplights at seemingly every crossroads. Luckily, traffic was still pretty light this morning on this main thoroughfare and I made it to New Holland right on time.
Yoder’s is sort of it’s own unassuming little strip mall plaza, set back from PA route 23, on the eastern town line. It consists of a medium-size grocery store/market with the adjoining big restaurant. I spotted a bunch of riders towards the front of the lot and found myself a spot close by.
It was wonderful to see all the familiar faces, including Hammy of course, plus a few of my fellow IBR 2021 competitors from the mid-Atlantic area. Former Mason-Dixon 20/20 rallymaster Rick Miller was in attendance as well as a few long-time competitors and staff volunteers from that event.
After some hellos, we headed right in to the restaurant, where they put us into a private dining room with several circular tables, as there were over a dozen of us. There were a few late arrivals whom I didn’t catch on camera, including long-time-no-see Dale Bundy on his big green Goldwing.
After we all confirmed with our server that we’d be getting the buffet, we headed out to grab some grub. I was disappointed to discover that breakfast had already been put away for the day (10:30 we found out) so there were only lunch items available at the many buffet stations. However, everything looked and smelled delicious, once you switched your brain into lunch mode. Picture a spread like the Golden Corral, but locally-owned, cleaner, and with fresher, more unique home-style dishes.
My first plate included: pot roast, mac & cheese, a squash veggie dish, bit of fried fish, and baked oatmeal w/bacon dressing (yum!). Stephen and I were both still on breakfast time and in need of coffee, which became a bit of a quest trying to track down servers to a) get us the coffee, and then b) bring us some creamer for it. Like restaurants everywhere these days, Yoders seems to be suffering a bit from the staffing shortage, but making do the best they can.
Several of us Provo finishers sat together to reminisce about our adventures from a month prior. Having had a month’s worth of reflection and sleep, it was interesting to hear everyone’s clear-headed thoughts about the rally and tales from the road. I think the entertainment value was high for our tablemate, rally newcomer Ben, who has completed a couple of Hammy’s rallies and is looking forward to running the Void Rally in October.
While we were eating, another late-arrival couple joined the room’s festivities. I noticed the woman, Narianne, was wearing a Team Strange shirt, so I struck up a conversation, and found she’d participated in a couple of the same TS grand tour events that I’d done in the past few years. We both especially remembered the Whispering Giants tour very fondly.
Char hadn’t ever tried this regional delicacy either, and so I’d promised to bring one home with me. After mealtime wound down and we all paid our tabs, I headed next door to Yoder’s market to pick up a 8″ pie to take home with me. Precious cargo secured, I spent a bit longer out in the parking lot, kicking tires as folks slowly began to drift off toward their bikes and departed for home.
After bidding the few remaining folks farewell, I suited up and headed east on PA 23 through Morgantown. I had several hours to ride and had planned on some secondary roads to get back up through PA and New Jersey, to do some exploring. I was determined to find some roads without a ton of traffic in the immediate area, and it turned out I’d managed to stitch a pretty decent little series of roads with little traffic, heading generally northeast from New Holland up to the Allentown area.
I turned north on Pine Swamp Road and thence a series of local roads up through French Creek State Park, crossing the Schuykill River in Amity. I continued riding northeast on some very pleasant and isolated rural back roads that I’d plucked off the map, until joining I-78 just south of Allentown in Upper Saucon, making pretty good time. I think I’ve found a good route to build on for the next Yoder’s trip, though I didn’t end up stopping for any photos.
Ten miles on the interstate, then I exited into Easton. This was my first off-interstate foray through this small city, which sits at the mouth of the Lehigh River, meeting the Delaware. Pretty cool looking old architecture and bridges with some nice park areas along the river. There were lots of people enjoying the river on tubes and small boats that day, which looked like a fun thing right in the middle of a city. I joined PA 611 and followed it north out of town for nice stretch of several miles riding next to the Delaware River.
After 611 verges away from the river for several miles, they come back together in Portland, where I crossed the water into Columbia, NJ. I took NJ 94 up to Blairstown, where I forked left to follow Stillwater Road (CR 521 – an NER Best-of-NorthEast road) up to Stillwater Township, and along Swartswood Lake.
This was some nice rural New Jersey riding – an idea I’ve now grown accustomed to in the western reaches of the state. Plenty of curves, farmlands, and small town scenery to enjoy while making decent time through the state, if you don’t mind passing when necessary (often). Only spotted a couple deer in the roads, but with enough distance to slow down safely.
I connected over to Branchville and picked up CR 519 (also NER BONE) for several more fun miles up to High Point. From there, just a couple of miles north had me crossing the state line into New York and picking up I-84. Then it was pretty much the standard slab ride across Connecticut to get home.