It was a perfect day for riding – perhaps a little cool at 70 degrees and a cloud cover which would soon burn off. I parked at Shawnee State Park and thought I would ride a clockwise direction. As I exited the park I decided I would ride counter-clockwise, mainly to see most of the covered bridges towards the end of the ride instead of near the front.
Rte 96 to Rte 31 was lightly traveled. Once on Rte 31 was six miles of heavier traffic. There is a small shoulder which provides enough of a cushions.
The first bridge was the Herline Bridge. It is set back off Rte 31 about half mile away. The Herline Bridge is the longest covered bridge in Bedford County. It spans the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River.
At the intersection of Rte 31 and U.S. Rte 30 in the Jean Bonnet Tavern which dates back to 1779. I did not stop today although I have eaten there before.
After the merge on US 30 I had two miles of pretty sketchy traffic. Like Rte 31, there is a small shoulder most of the way but the traffic can be busy. It is marked as Pa. Bike Route S but is not bike friendly. Thankfully, there was only two miles before turning off in Wolfsburg.
I rode over to Business Rte 220 and rode to the entrance at Old Bedford Village. Here was bridge number 2. It also spans the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River.
Having visited two bridges in the first two miles I knew I was in for the ride portion. Or the slog portion, if you will. I followed Bus. 220 north. I was lightly traveled. Eventually it became William Penn Highway, again, lightly traveled.
Arriving Osterburg I knew the route I had mapped and had ridden before. But before I came to my turn I saw some arrows on the road marked for BBC (Blair Bicycle Club). It followed Bobs Creek and I decided to follow it thinking it would eventually take me to Bowser Bridge. It would not. I was following Bobs Creek downstream when I needed to follow it upstream.
I spotted a Bike Route sign for a covered bridge. I thought it would take me back to Bowser Bridge. Oh it did not. I’m not complaining. It took me across Sawmill and Hammond Hill Roads, beautiful roads I would never have ridden on my own.
I found out later that sign is for a 16 mile loop ride as part of cycling the Alleghenies.
But at Fishersville it took me UP Crissman Road which is a nasty climb that I was not expecting. As I summited the climb, I was in an apple orchard and thought for a moment I was at the orchard close to Shellsville. I know there is a climb there.
But I was rewarded with a mile and half descent. Pretty sweet. Reviewing the ride afterward, at the bottom if I would have made a right instead of a left turn I would have seen the Ryot Covered Bridge and may have ridden back for the Kinsley Bridge. But I wasn’t sure where I was and I knew south (left) was the direction I needed to head.
Actually I thought I was farther north than I was and was looking for the road to take me to Ryot Bridge. I was surprised when I found the Cuppett Bridge. It is not open to vehicle traffic – a good thing since there are guard rails at the Rte 96 end. But I was able to ride through it. This was bridge number 3 and spans Dunning Creek.
Leaving New Paris on Rte 96 I passed the road to Gravity Hill but it had very fresh oil for a new chip and seal surface. For cars. Not for this bike.
There is a one mile climb to an apple orchard which leads to a one mile descent to Shellsburg. In Shellsburg I stopped at the Vincent Van Gas pump. This was Rte 30 art commissioned by the Pennsylvania 250 celebration in 2008. The paint is starting to weather on the left (west) side.
I followed Mill Road to the Colvin Bridge. This was bridge number 4 and spans Shawnee Branch.
Shortly thereafter I was supposed to turn left. But there is no road there. Oh Google (Maps) – you’re such a kidder. I will have to have that updated.
I enjoy making “courses” and uploading those to the Garmin. Today I discovered a neat feature – “Distance to Destination.” It was neat watching the countdown except that when I went “off course” by not turning on a non-existent road it was stuck as 3.00 miles until I came back on course.
In the end I hoped to ride eight bridges. I just got half the bridges. But I learned quite a bit about the roads – which to take and which to avoid. And that’s always a good lesson.