Last week, I decided I should try climbing Schooley Road. I had ridden down it recently (I thought I wrote about that ride here, but apparently not) and thought it would be a decent way of climbing. Riding down it was great because it was not too steep, and while it had some curves, they weren’t excessively tight. I didn’t have to ride the brakes too much on the way down. And traffic was very light. So, thinking about it in reverse, it seemed like it’d be a good road to take to climb out of the valley. Here is the route I rode.
View Schooley, Mt. Olivet, Bunker Hill 04/16/2009 in a larger map
As I started riding, I started to see some new signs of springs. Finally, some trees in bloom — mostly Cherry Blossoms, I think, although I haven’t taken the time to double check that.
The biggest downside to this approach was that I had to ride on Shoemaker Road, which is a little busy for my taste. Actually, the problem isn’t that it’s insanely busy, it’s that motorists on that road are absolute jerks. I’ve had people honk at me for no apparent reason — even when they had plenty of room to pass me. I guess they just don’t want me on the road. Anyway, I assert my rights, but I prefer to avoid roads that I know have hostile motorists.
Maybe a map will help illustrate the problem. It’s a little hard to tell on the map below, but the only streets that go through from Dennison to Schooley (both in blue) are Shoemaker (orange) and US Route 11 (red). As I recently discovered, taking the West Side Trail/Susquehanna Ave (green) is another option, but it follows the river at the very south end of this map. It’s out of the way.
View Dennison to Schooley in a larger map
Anyway, I decided to see if I could find a trail or gravel road or something that I could take instead. I did find a small trail, but it didn’t go far before it ended. I tried following an abandoned railroad grade, but that didn’t work, either. In short, no, I did not find a better way. There are some live tracks running not too far away, and I suppose I might be able to follow them. I did find a gravel road that might be of some use. I’ll have to go look into it further, but I am not optimistic. I usually find something useful when I go on a tangential exploration like this, but not always.
I had a little trouble finding my way back over to the road, but managed to find some kind of weird driveway or something. Shoemaker Road wasn’t as bad as I expected, but you never know. Eventually, I made my way to Schooley to start the climb. It was more or less as I expected: 2.5 miles / 25 minutes / 700 vertical feet of climbing, on a quiet, winding road. There were some rock cliffs along the right side at times, and a few houses on the left, and I followed a stream much of the way. I noticed some interesting trails or dirt roads on the mountain to my right. It might be worthwhile to check them out sometime, although they looked awfully steep.
Overall, I’m not sure whether this was easier or harder than climbing up Bunker Hill Road, my usual way out of the valley. But it’s another great option to have. I definitely want to do the Schooley Road descent again, it really was fantastic the last time I rode through here. But on this ride, I turned onto another road for a bit more climbing. There were quite a few farms in this area, nestled in the rolling hills on the mountain. Very beautiful. An approaching truck kicked up a cloud of dust as it approached. It was a paved road, but there was some dust on the surface.
I worked my way over to Bodie Road, where I enjoyed some nice views of farms and distant mountains before going into a great, mostly straight descent for about a mile.
I rode up to Mount Olivet Road, so I could ride over and go down Bunker Hill. I took a route that was new to me, and just as nice as Green Road. I’m not sure which way I like best, but it’s nice to have options. I stopped to snap some photos of some mountains along the way, and when I looked down, I noticed some nearby chickens and roosters took an interest in what I was doing. They waddled over my way. I tried to get moving, worried they would walk out into the road. When I left, they headed back to their coop.
After that, I had a nice descent, a largish climb, and finally, the descent down Bunker Hill Road. The sand/salt on the roads is really disappearing and now it’s possible to take these curvy descents a bit faster. Of course I am always very careful though, especially here. It’s quite steep and has a lot of sharp turns.
Overall, it was a good ride. I did some exploration that really didn’t take me anywhere, but that comes with the territory. I really enjoyed Schooley and Bodie roads. I’m glad to add them to repertoire.