Garden Spot Village Resident Enters Amish Country Bike & Balloon Race

September 7, 2011

Bob Stahr, 81, will soar aloft, then cycle back to Bird-in-Hand.

NEW HOLLAND, Pa. — Sept. 7, 2011 — When you’ve already canoed all of northern New Jersey’s rivers, traversed every road in Lancaster County and logged more than 10,600 miles on a bicycle, what do you do for an encore?

If you’re Bob Stahr of New Holland, you accept an invitation to take your bike for a hot air balloon ride, get dropped off and ride back to the starting point.

That’s what he plans to do this Sat., Sept. 10, as one of the entrants in the Amish Country Bike & Balloon Race, part of the Run, Ride & Soar Weekend. He will be riding in the Garden Spot Village hot air balloon.

“It sounded like it would be a lot of fun,” said Stahr. At 81, he is believed to be the senior entrant registered in the event.

The balloonists will depart from a launch site on Old Philadelphia Pike and soar for approximately 30 minutes. Depending on wind and weather conditions, they will travel about five miles before landing. Then the bicyclists must find their way back to the starting point.

Although Stahr has already biked over every road in Lancaster County, he is modest when it is suggested that he has a navigational edge.

“It depends on which direction the wind blows the balloon,” he said, noting that he bicycles over certain roads more frequently than others. His favorite ride is from New Holland to the Smoketown Airport and back—a route that takes him past the balloon launch site.

“I chase the balloons regularly,” he said. “I’d like to see it from the air. I’m looking forward to it.”

It will be Stahr’s first balloon flight—but he is no stranger to heights. Before he and his wife, Jane, moved to Garden Spot Village 11 years ago, he worked in high-rise construction in New York City.

“The last building I worked on was 50 stories,” he said. Depending on the wind speed, the balloon may fly as low as 500 feet or as high as 2,000.

Piloted by the U.S. Hot Air Balloon Team, the Garden Spot Village balloon is a medium-large balloon with an envelope capacity of 140,000 cubic feet of air. Approximately 30 feet wide and 40 feet high, the envelope features the Garden Spot Village logo and a Lancaster County farmland scene in bright green and blue. It has a six-person gondola made of wood and wicker.

The Garden Spot Village hot air balloon made its inaugural flight on May 3, 2010. Since then, nearly 90 Garden Spot Village residents and family members, employees and guests have taken advantage of the discounted flights available to them.