Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Revisiting the Endless Mountains

Monday, June 29th, 2009

We’ve been getting a lot of rain — pretty much every day, we get some rain, although it usually doesn’t last for very long. That, combined with a sudden influx of work, meant I didn’t get to ride very much during the week last week. However, on Saturday, I went for a longish ride. I decided to repeat the Ride to the Endless Mountains that I did back in March, only this time, I rode the route in reverse. I thought this would make some parts of the ride easier, and some other parts would be harder. PA Route 292 seemed like it’d be particularly fun in the other direction. Here’s a map of my ride.

View Ride to Endless Mountains (backwards) 06/27/2009 in a larger map

And the elevation profile:

Endless Mountains Elevation Profile

The ride started with the long climb up Bunker Hill Road. This took more out of me than usual, in part because I haven’t ridden as much lately, and in part because of the heat. It probably wasn’t warmer than 80 degrees, but that feels pretty hot when you are doing such a long climb. There was some chance of rain in the forecast, and some ominous clouds had me wondering if I would get rained on. However, it was warm enough that I didn’t feel the need to bring any rain gear.

After the big initial climb, there were some significant ups and downs. They don’t look that big on the elevation profile (in the 5-15 mile range), but many of these “smaller” hills still involve a couple hundred feet of elevation change.



Most of this riding was on paved roads, but I did enjoy some very nice gravel on Jake Moore Road.




After a while on that gravel road, I went by the very beautiful Lake Louise.



Soon thereafter, I came across Brace’s Orchard. At first, I rode right past it, but then I realized that I was running low on Gatorade, and I thought some apple cider would really hit the spot. I stopped and bought a quart of apple cider for just $1.50. It wasn’t the best cider I’ve ever had, but it was the perfect thing at that moment. Maybe a little sweet for my taste, but still tasty, and it sure beats Gatorade.

The sky still looked quite ominous to the north. I wasn’t sure if I would hit the rain or not. I was headed north, so I thought I might be headed straight for the storm clouds.





Feeling refreshed from my break and the cider, and undeterred by the clouds, I continued on my way. I hit some more nice gravel on Cummings Road and soon reached Center Moreland, where a convenience store is quickly becoming one of my usual stops. I bought some water and snacked on some potato chips. Sometimes I have a hard time eating during rides, but I’ve been trying to make myself eat more. And, I found the salt in the chips was very pleasant.

The next section of the ride was probably the easiest. I rode northwest on PA Route 292, which was mostly downhill and curved gently for about five miles. This was a different riding experience from many of the other roads around here as the road is flanked by fields, giving more of a sense of wide open space than the heavily-wooded/mountainous roads. At the same time, mountains are visible in the distance in many places. It was very scenic and fun riding.




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Soon I began to see glimpses of Brier Mountain, which I would soon be climbing. It was more than a little daunting to see where I was headed in this way. At some point during this time, it started drizzling a bit.

Brier Mountain is on the left, with the antennae

Once again, Brier Mountain is on the left

I turned on to the gravel Wilsey Road and started the climb. I wasn’t sure if climbing the mountain would be easier or harder from this direction. I think it ended up being a bit easier. The road took more of a winding, gradual path up the side of the mountain, whereas from the other side it was more of a frontal assault. There were some great views, although they were much more restricted compared to last time I rode in this area, now that there were leaves on the trees.









This climb ended up being about 530 vertical feet. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, but I was expected it to be nearly impossible. Immediately upon reaching the top, the road started down the other side. I rode very conservatively. The road surface was smooth gravel, but the rain was picking up a bit. The trees kept me fairly dry.







The rain came and went for a while. Once I reached the bottom of the mountain, I turned toward home. I spent more time on the somewhat-busy PA Route 309 than I had hoped, as a back road I planned to take was closed for construction. But there was a wide shoulder, and I had no problems.

Pretty much as soon as I turned off 309, the rain picked up again. It wasn’t pouring, but it was coming down hard enough that I took a few more photos and put the camera away for a while.



I had a lot more climbing ahead of me than I realized. Eventually, I would climb to just about 60 feet lower than I had been at the highest point I reached on Brier Mountain. I have to admit, I got a little frustrated during this part of my ride. The rain and the seemingly-endless climbing tested my resolve. Looking at the elevation profile again, it appears that the road mostly climbed for about five miles.

Eventually, I neared Lake Catalpa, a small, beautiful lake. Either the lake itself is privately owned, or the road by it is. It’s a shame, it would be cool to explore this lake more.






By this time, the rain had either let up or ceased entirely. And the climbing ended a little past the lake. Now the climbing started to pay off, as I spent the next four miles or so mostly coasting downhill. This was a wonderful, fun, easy part of the ride, and I appreciated it that much more after all the climbing I had done.

From here, the route also got more familiar. Everything past Lake Catalpa felt like the home stretch, even though I had another 12 miles to go. Most of it was downhill, and there was only one major climb left.








It was a gorgeous ride, but it was also quite gruelling. I loved the scenery, but the climbing really got to be too much at times. I was glad it wasn’t any hotter; I’m not sure how well I could pull off a ride like this if it had been legitmately hot. I really didn’t mind the rain too much, in fact, it helped me cool off. And the clouds added an interesting dimension to the scenery.

I’ll miss scenes like these once we move back to¬† Indiana. However, the hills there are much more manageable, so they are conducive to riding more miles, more frequently. In that sense, I’m looking forward to moving back. Overall, I try to appreciate the different facets of riding that both areas offer.

One Response to “Revisiting the Endless Mountains”

  1. paul Says:

    Gorgeous, man. Thanks for sharing.

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