Note: I have fallen way behind in my blog posts. I started this post sometime last week, about my ride Sunday 11/23. Between Thanksgiving, riding, and a hike, I have not had time to document my exploits. Hopefully, I can catch up soon.
I planned to ride to Harvey’s Lake, ride around the lake, and ride home. This would be a total of about 35 miles, which I figured was plenty given the increased effort required for riding in the mountains, and the fact that it was about 30 degrees. I figured I could do this ride in about 2 1/2 hours.
Boy, was I off target! I severely underestimated the amount of climbing I’d encounter — over 2800 feet, in what ended up being 27 miles of riding. This was my slowest road ride in a long time; never before have I ridden 27 miles and been gone nearly 3 hours.
I headed out a little behind schedule, and grabbed a light on my way out the door. I used my new GPS to navigate this route. I’ll probably do a full post on the GPS’s capabilities later; suffice it to say that it worked quite well. Here is a Google map with the route. Click on the map pins, each one is a photo. You can zoom and navigate the map, and see each photo associated with its location on the map.
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The ride started on familiar territory: I took the Back Mountain Trail to Trucksville, then rode on some new roads. I saw some interesting plants with red buds on them along the way. Maybe someone can help me identify these.
The trail is about 2 1/2 miles of gradual climbing, in this direction. But I was far from finished climbing. For quite a while, all I did was climb. It was slow going, but I have learned not to attack the climbs too vigorously; I have to pace myself.
As I rode ever so slowly uphill on Sutton Road, I saw probably 10 deer cross the road and graze on a lawn by a bend in the road ahead of me. By the time I approached they had been watching me come their way for a few minutes, and they ran off into the woods. I hoped for a better glimpse of them, but I was moving slowly to begin with, and the road got a lot steeper once I reached the bend.
I made it past that steep climb, expecting some respite, but I didn’t get it. The grade let up a bit, but it felt like I had been climbing for ages at this point; in fact, looking back on it, the first seven miles of this ride were almost entirely climbing. It’s a mostly-gradual way to climb about 600 feet, but it wore me down quite a bit. Eventually I did get to ride downhill, briefly, then back up. I went through a few rolling hills, which were a welcome change from the constant climbing.
Before long I reached Huntsville, and rode by the very beautiful Huntsville Reservoir. It’s a very interesting lake, shaped like a bit like an oak leaf, with several inlets branching off in different directions. The road follows edge of the lake for a while, and it’s a lovely ride.
Somewhere between Huntsville and Idetown, I saw some pretty scenes, the first a view from near a golf course, the second a cool old barn.
Eventually, after some more significant climbing, I reached PA Route 415, which would take me to Harvey’s Lake. I had some great views of layered mountains and a blistering descent for about a mile that had tears streaming from my eyes from the blast of cold air.
When I reached the bottom of the hill (still at 1200 feet!) I was at Harvey’s Lake. I had planned to ride around the lake, but it was already nearly 4:00, and I knew I’d run out of light if I did so. I did stop to rest by the lake and look around a bit. As I took some photos, another cyclist rode up and started loading her bicycle in her minivan. I assume she drove to the lake, then rode around it. I was pleased to see another cyclist, since I have seen so few around here.
The lake was beautiful, and I wished I had time to ride around it. Alas, I had to head back. I was unsure how my GPS would handle my skipping part of the route, but once I headed back toward home, it simply continued to navigate from my current position. Nice. I had a big climb up Carpenter Road. It wasn’t overly steep at any time, but it was slow going. I stopped to look back at a couple of points during the climb — the view just kept getting better.
At the top of the hill was the highest elevation of the whole ride, 1514 feet, and Sgarlat Lake, which appeared to be on private property. Part of the lake was frozen over, and there was a thin layer of snow on top of the ice, so there was a strange white band across the lake. Interestingly, TopoFusion lists this as Scarlat Lake, while Google Maps doesn’t have a label for the lake, but lists the road by the lake as Scarlet Lake. I wonder what’s up with the discrepancy.
A bit of snow lined the road as I started the descent on the other side of the hill. While the first half of this ride was mostly climbing, the second half was mostly downhill. I sure enjoyed the easy riding for a while. There were a few climbs, but nothing too difficult.
I found Stredney Road, a gravel road I’d like to explore sometime. In fact TopoFusion shows Harvey Lookout Tower on Chestnut Ridge; I should find out of there’s a way to get to it. There’s no obvious access point in either Google Maps or TopoFusion.
At some point I got turned around. I failed to follow the GPS properly, but I could tell I was headed in the right basic direction, just parallel to the road I was supposed to be on. I kept going and gradually worked my way back over. And it was getting fairly dark, but I had lights. No worries. I was getting a bit chilly as the sun set, but I knew I wouldn’t be out too much longer.
Soon I made my way back to the Back Mountain Trail. From here, it was a routine ride. It was good to be back on familiar ground, now that it was almost completely dark.
I couldn’t believe this ride was only 27 miles; it felt a lot longer, and I was gone for over 2 1/2 hours. I had guessed I would be able to complete the entire ride, including the loop around Harvey’s Lake, in about that time. I’m still not used to what these mountains do to my ride times. On the other hand, I was in no hurry; I just wish I could have ridden a bit further (even if my legs begged to differ, with all that climbing).