Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for July, 2009

Short, intense ramble

Monday, July 13th, 2009

On Friday, I did some exploration on Larksville Mountain. I found a bit of a different way to climb up, partially it’s still on Mountain Road, but there’s a detour on a part of Steele Road (gravel) that’s new to me. I had some additional exploration in mind as well. This ended up being a very intense ride, only 13.4 miles, but it took 2 hours and I climbed 1800 feet in that time. Plus, much of it was on loose gravel.

View GPS device in a larger map

Elevation Profile

The ride started with the same climb as usual up Larksville Mountain. Unfortunately, I had to climb further than I realized on Mountain Road. This new route did avoid some hard climbing, but not as much as I’d hoped. Still, Steele Road has a decent gravel surface, and it’s a lot quieter than Mountain Road.





Once I more or less reached the top, I ambled over to Corby Rd. I’ve ridden there a few times and I knew it was just 1-2 flat, smooth gravel miles over to a nice view of Bunker Hill.



I took a break for a few minutes, and ate a few wild raspberries (actually, I think they were not-yet-ripe blackberries) I found growing near the road. I didn’t stay still for long, though, as the flies were bad. I decided to follow Corby Road to its northern terminus, a part of the road I had not yet explored. I encountered some loose, sandy gravel along the way. Tricky riding, but the scenery was good..








I headed back over to Mountain Road and then Weavertown Road, where I had more climbing to do. But it wasn’t too intense, and I felt rejuvenated after a few miles of flat riding. I turned off into a subdivision that looked interesting from some map study and enjoyed a rather steep, twisty descent of a couple hundred feet. Though it was a little disconcerting as I knew I would just have to climb back up later.

The neighborhood itself wasn’t all that interesting, but a nearly-hidden gravel road off to the side beckoned for me to explore it. I acquiesced, and found a power line right-of-way with some steep, rocky gravel roads, with a large stone and a glimpse across to the mountains on the other side of the valley. I carefully navigated the loose gravel and rocks, and climbed up near the stone. I managed to get some pretty good views of a bit of the valley, and beyond.









I went around to the other side of the stone and got some more nice views. To my surprise there was an SUV parked there. I could hear motorcycles or ATVs nearby, and I could see that there were more trails/power line runs branching off from this point. Not sure how rideable they’d be on a bicycle, especially the Trucker. It might be interesting on my mountain bike. I lingered for a few minutes before heading back.


Looking toward my return route, Mountain Road (on top of the ridge)




The climb back through the neighborhood was very difficult. Some parts were very steep. Once I got back on Mountain Road, I took another detour to explore Valley View Road. I was hoping it would live up to its name, but contrary to my GPS, and Google Maps, the road simply ends. There were no connecting roads whatsoever, and no views of the valley. It was, however, a beautiful gravel road lined with wildflowers — while it lasted.




I headed back to Mountain Road to descend into the valley. After all that climbing, it felt great to let loose and have the wind cool me.

This was a fun ride, and I found some very interesting new places. However, it was also probably the hardest 13-mile ride I’ve ever done.

1,000 miles, and some exploration

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Last Thurday (July 9), I finally reached 1,000 miles of riding so far this year. I’m way behind where I’ve been the past few years, mileage-wise. Last year, hit 1,000 miles on May 14.  In 2007, it was May 27. Each mile is much harder earned here in Pennsylvania, but in reality, I have not been able to make riding as high a priority as I would like.

During my ride that day, I wanted to explore a path and another area that Sarah and I had discovered on foot the night before. The path follows the railroad tracks and leads to some other levees and some kind of flood control center. It’s listed as a Flood Basin on topo maps. I have gone right by this path many times, but never even noticed it.

View Exploration 07/09/2009 in a larger map






Unfortunately, there were some construction workers on both sides of the flood basin, so I didn’t get to explore it as much as I had hoped. Instead, I further explored the area by the railroad tracks. This wasn’t great riding — lots of loose gravel and large rocks. But it was an interesting alternate route, and more direct than the roads.



I only rode by the tracks for a little while. Then, I decided to head up to the Back Mountain Trail to see if they had replaced the bridge yet. I found that no, they had not. Unfortunately, the trail is in worse shape than before. There were numerous mudslides and rockslides, ostensibly during one of our recent storms. A lot of rocks and mud had washed out onto the trail, and water was draining very poorly.







I felt like riding more, and took a meandering path home. I hope that someone will fix the Back Mountain Trail. If they had a workday or something, I’d try to show up and volunteer.

Sickler, Krispen, Atherholt

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

I’ve been in a bit of a rut, cycling-wise. It’s been raining nearly every day, and my wildly fluctuating workload means I’m either working really hard on the projects I do have, or (during slow times) trying to drum up more work. I took a break from riding over the weekend and still felt like I was in a bit of a slump.

But yesterday, I managed to get out for a ride. I wanted to revisit an area from this ride, but rode a bit of a different route. I also rode the route in the opposite direction, and explored a side road I have ridden by dozens of times but never ridden on. Here is the route I rode.

View Sickler, Krispen, Atherholt 07/08/2009 in a larger map

My ride started with the Bunker Hill climb. This is always tiring, but I did a bit better than I expected, given how little riding I’ve done lately. It’s just a really long climb. I was curious whether I would be able to see the effects of the last week’s mudslide. I sure did — a bare mud surface where the slide had occurred, and a damaged guardrail.



Seeing this shook me up a bit. I ride on this road frequently, and in fact Sarah and I were driving up it shortly after the mudslide happened. It’s a good reminder to be careful. If someone had been on the road, in that spot, at the wrong time, the results could have been disastrous.

The sky was wild during this ride. Some parts of the sky were clear and blue, other places had white, puffy clouds, and other areas still had dark, ominous clouds. Some areas had all three features in one place.


I rode down Carverton Road, climbed 8th Street, and got on Mt. Olivet Road. Then it was another climb up Sickler Road.







Sickler Road is interesting because there’s a good-sized climb, and then it flattens out briefly, and then goes into some rolling hills. I thought I remembered part of it being gravel, but either I’m not remembering correctly, or they paved it.





After that was a bit of flat riding, and soon I reached the view I had enjoyed so much last time I was out in this area.


The road is visible in the distance

I also had some nice views of part of Abraham’s Creek that really is more like a lake. But it’s listed as a creek on every map I’ve looked at.





The roads were routine for a while, so I didn’t take many more photos. This ride had more climbing than I expected, although I shouldn’t be surprised. These roads were challenging last time I rode in this area, too.

On my way back home, as I climbed Dug Road up the back side of Bunker Hill, I spotted Atherholt Road, which I have ridden past many times but never paid much attention to. I decided it was time to see what was there. I knew it looped back around to Bunker Hill Road, so it would only add 1-2 miles to my ride.

I’m glad I checked it out. It was a nice way to add more variety to the ride. It passed a couple of farms, at one of which I was greeted by some roosters and a barn cat. They crossed the road quite brazenly right in front of me, and one very vocal rooster crowed at me the whole time. Meanwhile, the cat ignored me completely.



I enjoyed some nice views looking to the north. This was a pleasant surprise — there are some nice views of the Wyoming Valley to the south when descending Bunker Hill Road, but there are fewer opportunities to get views to the north. In the second shot below, you can make out the steeple of a church that I had ridden past earlier in the ride.





Even though I had been in a cycling rut, this ride felt wonderful and made me feel a lot better about riding in general. A couple of minor route alterations mixed things up and exploring Atherholt Road reminded me that there are plenty of unexplored roads right along my usual routes. And the excellent scenery didn’t hurt, either.

I rode just over 21 miles, with over 2400 feet of climbing.

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