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Archive for the 'Gravel' Category

Riding, but not writing

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Despite the fact that it’s rained a lot, and I haven’t written much here, I have done some great riding in the past week. Here are a few highlights.

Friendship, Getty’s Creek, Mount Gilead roads

After a very rainy day, I did another ride near the waterfowl resting area. The roads were still wet and it was terribly humid, to the extent that my glasses were fogging up. But the scenery and evening light were quite beautiful.

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It’s a little hard to make it out, but in this next photo you can see a turkey vulture, startled by my approach, swooping up away from some roadkill.

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Yellowwood Loop


View 2009-09-24 Yellowwod Loop in a larger map

This was a great ride in the rain. My friend Dave and I had been planning to ride and while the rain made the trails too muddy, we hit the gravel roads in Yellowwood State Forest. I didn’t bring a camera due to the conditions, but this was a really fun ride. A good (but not too grueling) climb up the gravel Yellowwood Lake Road,  then over to Dubois Ridge (also gravel) for some rolling hills mixed in with a lot of fun descending. I was expecting this ride to be rather grueling given the hills and the rain, but it was a blast. I rode the mountain bike, and some adjustments I made seem to have helped a little to make me more comfortable on that bicycle. I still have more tweaks to make, but progress is good.

Nebo Ridge plus Hickory Ridge trails 19-18-20


View 2009-09-26 Nebo & Hickory 19-18-20.kml in a larger map

On Saturday, Dave and Ken and I headed out to Nebo Ridge for some mountain biking. We all rode well … Ken turned in an especially strong ride, given that he has asthma and forgot his inhaler.

Nebo is always one of my favorite trails. With all the rain we had gotten, we were a little unsure what the conditions would be like. We were pleasantly surprised. Only the very beginning of the trail was particularly muddy. Once we climbed up onto the ridge, conditions were good. There was some mud here and there, and it slowed us down a bit, but it wasn’t bad at all.

I really expected to just ride Nebo Ridge, but we were all feeling strong when we reached the end of that trail and headed over for Hickory Ridge trails 19, 18, and 20. Now, both Nebo and Hickory Ridge are in Hoosier National Forest and are shared with horse traffic, but Hickory Ridge is less maintained and sees more horse traffic. It’s a real back-country experience. The mud this time made for a wilder ride than in the past.

Trail 19 was not too muddy, but there was more climbing than I remembered. 18 has some truly awesome descending, which was even more fun with the mud. A few times, I felt my rear tire fishtailing. It’s quite an experience to go bombing down a hill, dodging horse shit and puddles and trying to be prepared for the twists and turns the trail throws at you. We all rode well though and to me this is mountain biking at its best. I love the groomed, roller-coaster trails we usually ride on at Brown County State Park, but I love how rugged these trails in the national forest are.

We were all quite tired by the end of the ride, but Dave had brought some Bass Ale and we were very glad he did. There’s nothing like a cold beer after a ride.

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

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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.

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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.

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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..

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

Susquehanna Warrior Trail

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

On Sunday, I decided to check out another local rail trail, the Susquehanna Warrior Trail. I’ve been wanting to explore this trail since we saw it on our return trip from Indiana back in March, and later, found its Web site. I found conflicting information online, but I expected the trail to be 10-16 miles, one way. I had to drive about 20 minutes to reach this trail. It’s within biking distance, but there’s no good way to get there by bicycle that I could see. Here’s a map of my ride.


View Susquehanna Warrior Trail 06/28/2009 in a larger map

I parked by the Garden Drive-In movie theater near West Nanticoke, PA, and got ready to ride. There were some rather ominous clouds, so I braced myself for possible rain.

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The trail runs between US Route 11 (a fairly busy highway), and the Susquehanna River. At times, it runs right alongside the road, but at times, it goes into the woods and closer to the river. I was hoping for some nice river views.

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The scenery from the trail varies but can be generalized as similar to many scenes here in Pennsylvania: a strange combination of run-down industrial buildings and wonderful mountains. It’s sad and beautiful, all at the same time.

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The wildflowers were in full effect.

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UGI Power Plant

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Some less-than-friendly signs had me wondering if this was a safe area. First were the STAY ON TRAIL. KEEP MOVING signs. (Why?)

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This strange sign reads, “Stay On Trail / Keep Moving”

Next, we have, thanks to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, the S.C.I. Retreat (medium security correctional institution).

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Pennsylvania Department of Corrections – S.C.I. Retreat

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Bridge to the “retreat”

And finally, a firing range.

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Firing Range – Keep Out

Views of the river were few and far between. I’m sure there would be some nice views during winter or early spring, when the leaves are off the trees. I did enjoy some nice wooded areas and clearings.

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After a while, I reached the town of Shickshinny. This is a small, run-down town. I arrived and caught a glimpse of a military funeral, just in time to have the 21-gun salute startle me. Around this time, it started raining.

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Soon, I came to the PPL Riverlands Park. I had only gone 7 or 8 miles at this point. I saw a small trail down to the river and rode down to look around.

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I got back on the Susquehanna Warrior Trail, but reached an impasse in just a couple of minutes. The trail continued, but it was waterlogged. I rode a little bit to see if it would dry out. No such luck.

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Not convinced the trail ended here, I rode around a bit on some gravel roads until I reached US Route 11. I rode down the road to a bridge to see if the Susquehanna Warrior Trail continued beyond the bridge. I could see the trail below, but it was in worse shape than the last section I looked at. Alas. I took in some nice views before heading back.

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I was a little disappointed that I wouldn’t get to ride as many miles as I’d hoped. And I just wasn’t that impressed with the trail. There were a few beautiful areas, but most of it was nothing special. It started raining harder, so I put the camera away for a while … until I took a side road I discovered to a boating access point that was very pretty.

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It was an enjoyable ride, and the rail-trail provided a pleasant way of riding some easy miles. But I only got to ride a little over 17 miles. I was hoping for closer to 25. Was it worth driving to this trail? Yes, it was worthwhile to ride it once, but I’m not sure I need to do it again.

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