Half the Bridges

SHELLSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA

Shawnee Lake
Shawnee Lake Beach

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.

Herline Bridge
Herline Bridge

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.

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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.

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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.

Old Bedford Village
Old Bedford Village

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.

Old Bedford Village
Old Bedford Village

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.

Covered Bridge Route - A local Alleghenies Route
Covered Bridge Route – A local Alleghenies Route

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.

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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.

Cuppert Bridge
Cuppert Bridge
Cuppert Bridge
Cuppert Bridge

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.

Cuppert Bridge
Cuppert Bridge

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.

Vincent Van Gas
Vincent Van Gas

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.

Colvin Bridge
Colvin Bridge

I followed Mill Road to the Colvin Bridge. This was bridge number 4 and spans Shawnee Branch.

Colvin Bridge
Colvin Bridge

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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.

Skip Back Road
Skip Back Road

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.

Shawnee Lake
Shawnee Lake

 

 


Spokes of Hope Saturday Ride

TREXLERTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA

Our riding group from Spokes of Hope met at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center for what has become our annual ride in the valley.  I joined go site Ken and click Cindi Hart, Jay Bodkin, Kathy Robinson, Andrew Werner, and click Branan Cooper (but Branan could ride only for a short bit).

Ken Hart, Kathy Robinson
Ken Hart, Kathy Robinson

Cindi asked us to gather and we formed a small circle. She gave thanks for friendship and then I offered up that this must also be a dedication circle. I led my speaking about Jake, whose family I had visited an hour earlier. And I dedicated my ride and day to go to site Amelia Schmidt.

Bowers
Bowers

We rode out country roads to Topton. But not without incident. Jay came to railroad tracks and did a bunny hop. He hopped right out of his cleat – the shoe suspended on his pedal. He did an emergency repair and we were able to continue as a group.

Topton
Topton

We did a loop out to Bowers and ended up at the cafe in Topton next to the railroad tracks. While drinking milkshakes and smoothies (I had a smoothie), Cindi asked for a hill on the return ride where we could ride for the people we have dedicated to.

Near Topton, Pa.
Near Topton, Pa.

Andrew found a hill near Mertztown. Cindi and I went up. I yelled for Amelia and http://envsci.uprrp.edu/?help-with-scholarship-essay Alex and Jake.

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Andrew and Kathy followed. Jay and Ken watched. After the dedication we passed a pumpkin patch and was surprised to see they were harvesting pumpkins in August.

Well, at least this writer was surprised.

Cindi Hart
Cindi Hart

It is always great riding with these cancer survivors as they enjoy their lives and triumph over cancer.

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Clockwise: Ken, Andrew, Jay, Kathy, Barry, Cindi’s shoes (Credit: Cindi Hart)

 


Velodrome

TREXLERTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA

I think this was the eighth straight year for Spokes of Hope. It was my fifth straight year attending.

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The last night of racing for the season at Valley Preferred Cycling Center, Spokes of Hope was invited to “take a lap against cancer.” We met at 4:00 p.m. and got to ride on the track until 5:00 p.m.

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The featured pediatric survivor was Abby. She is a five year old who has bilateral retinoblastoma. Ponder that for a moment. Five years old.

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We met at 4:00 and rode some practice laps on the track. The kids rode down on the apron while the big kids got to ride up on the track.

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Unlike past years where we were an intermission guest, this year we were first up – right before the national anthem.

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We were announced as taking a “Lap Against Cancer.” The crowd enthusiastically supported us – little and big kids alike.

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As we left the track the National Anthem was sung. We stood at attention, me with my hand over my heart.

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This is always a special night. Honoring kids and seeing old friends. And we got to see some good bike racing too.

 

Extreme Skinny Dipping

BEDFORD, PENNSYLVANIA

I met Rocky Sprow and his friend, page Ed, at Fort Bedford. It was a beautiful morning.

Bedford Springs
Bedford Springs

We rolled out past Bedford Springs. It is a beautiful property with a nice golf course. We followed country roads for more than 20 miles to Lake Koon and Lake Gordon.

Bedford Springs
Bedford Springs

When we came to the spillway at the dam we stopped to view the lake on one side (Lake Koon) and the spillway on the other (empties into Lake Gordon). I met a young couple and had a conversation with them.

In a few minutes these kids would get naked and jump!
In a few minutes these kids would get naked and jump!

The young woman surprised me by jumping up on the top of the railing overlooking the lake. I went over to take a picture because I told her I thought “she was nuts.” We talked for a few minutes looking down at the water. I thought the distance looked similar to jumping into the River Aare in Bern, Switzerland.

Lake Koon
Lake Koon

The couple had been getting ready to jump and we weren’t leaving. Finally the man said to me “well, we were getting ready to jump naked into the lake once you leave.” And I said “we don’t mind if you jump.” And they did. They stripped quickly, dropped their clothes¬† on the dam roadway, and jumped. Total time from standing to jumping was about two seconds.

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Rocky Sprow and Barry Sherry

Once they surfaced I yelled down to them and asked if they wanted their clothes taken down to the lake. They said they did so I gathered up their clothes and took them lakeside. They were still (hiding) in the water so I got their attention and showed them where I left them. I also noticed a pair of shorts were near the end of the dam. I think the young man probably left a pair there and when they were done, he would walk up, grab the shorts, then go retrieve their clothes in the middle of the dam. So glad I could help!

We remounted then followed the road another couple of miles until it dipped into Maryland at U.S. Rte 220. We were in Maryland for just two miles. We made a loop then hooked up with our original route to follow it back to Bedford.

We crossed the dam again and saw no evidence of our naked dam jumpers. We continued on.

The route back was a bit punchy on the way back. I secretly decided to win every KOM from my friends. I think I did (of course it helps if they don’t know what I’m doing to them).

Bedford Springs Old Course
Bedford Springs Old Course

Back to Bedford, it was a great day. Of course, not every day do two young people strip naked in front of you and jump off a dam. Stay classy Bedford, stay classy.

 

 


Reunion in the Rain

SOMERSET, PENNSYLVANIA

Seven years ago I started attending reunions regularly with my parents in part so I could ride from Somerset to Punxsutawney and have a ride back. A normal ride would be 80 miles. Except I previously left from Friedens which is north of Somerset. Today I would leave from Somerset.

Somerset in the morning rain
Somerset in the morning rain

The weather forecast was ominous. With a 40% chance of rain I pushed off just as soon as I found daylight. Except it began to rain. I wasn’t crazy about riding on wet roads and still a little bit dark. I decided not to follow Rte 281 through Friedens but took back roads over near Shanksville, passing the Flight 93 Memorial Chapel along the way.

Flight 93 Memorial Chapel
Flight 93 Memorial Chapel

Rain, heavy at times, kept me from going fast. I’m not normally scared on the bike but there were a couple of descents where I was scared. I was descending too fast down Mostoller Road because I had no brakes. Everything was wet and I wasn’t getting any grip on the brakes. I came to a stop sign at the bottom of the road and had no choice but to fly through the intersection even while grabbing a handful of brakes. With corn fields on either side I could not see approaching traffic but hoped for the best. I went through the intersection with no problem.

Hidden Lincoln Highway gas pump in Stoystown
Hidden Lincoln Highway gas pump in Stoystown

I was in a steady rain until Johnstown when the skies turned grey. Just grey. But it was nice not to be fighting the rain and knowing, hopefully, that drivers can see me on the road.

Famous Coney Island in Johnstown
Famous Coney Island in Johnstown

Haven made this ride numerous times, there was nothing tricky about it. I followed my route through Davidsville to Johnstown where I picked up Rte 271 to Nicktown and Northern Cambria. In Northern Cambria I stopped and saw friends/cousins, Don & Nancy Lowmaster, before heading up to Cherry Tree and Indiana Co.

Nancy and Don Lowmaster
Nancy and Don Lowmaster

I passed one Amish buggy and waved to the people inside. I find the Amish are always very friendly to me when I’m on my bike and we do share that common bond: drivers hate us.

Yard sign, Smithport, Pa.
Yard sign, Smithport, Pa.

Otherwise, the ride was uneventful. I am always on the look out for dogs and seemingly get by the one house every year before the loose dogs notice me. They missed me again today.

Canoe Twp., Indiana Co.
Canoe Twp., Indiana Co.

I was dirty when I arrived at the reunion although not too wet as my wicking clothes got rid of the rain only to be replaced by sweat. But I was thankful, especially with the early weather conditions, to have made it safely.

 

 


White’s Ferry Loop

RESTON, VIRGINIA

The White’s Ferry is a classic loop ride in the D.C. area. At least I’m calling it a classic. It was a beautiful morning and I was “wheels down” before 7:30 a.m. in Reston. I took the W&OD trail to the Custis Trail and stopped at the Marriott Key Bridge in Rosslyn.

Early morning on W&OD, Vienna. Va.
Early morning on W&OD, Vienna. Va.

I joined up with http://vaygaptrongngay.com/quest-homework-services/ quest homework services Laura Drake, a 26 year-old ultra marathoner (think 100 mile runs) for the loop ride. Her boss at Revolution Cycles was supposed to join us but apparently treasured sleep more than miles. However, Laura said he might try to catch up to us.

We headed across the Key Bridge into Georgetown then up McArthur Boulevard and River Road through northwest D.C. into Potomac, Md. River Road wasn’t bad but it’s a moderately to heavily traveled road. There is a bike lane which comes and goes and the traffic was a bit angry. Damn cyclists for being in their exclusive neighborhood.

Bridge on McArthur Boulevard
Bridge on McArthur Boulevard

Out past Seneca traffic thins out a bit eventually becoming a back county road. Hard to believe this was still Montgomery Co. We followed Edwards Ferry Road to Whites Ferry Road to Whites Ferry. My mind wondered if Edwards and White were major competitors back in the day and hated each other. In any case, White won because his is the only ferry still standing.

C&O Canal at White's Ferry
C&O Canal at White’s Ferry

We stopped at White’s Ferry for a quick lunch in their cafe. We met a guy on a hybrid just getting back into riding. I know we were both thinking he probably needs to upgrade his bike but were just glad he’s reconnecting. We had a nice conversation before he headed down the towpath and we crossed the river.

White's Ferry, Maryland side
White’s Ferry, Maryland side

This was Laura’s first time crossing, her first look actually, at the Ferry. I couldn’t tell if she was overly excited or not. Two dollars for cyclists. We got to Leesburg and she suggested we ride to Purcellville for ice cream. With a dog at home, I did not budget time for a 100 mile ride and so we passed on the Purcellville extension.

White's Ferry, Maryland side, looking at Virginia
White’s Ferry, Maryland side, looking at Virginia

We picked up the W&OD and it was like meeting an old friend. We knew it well and rode it back to Reston. I bailed here, content with my 80 miles, and Laura went back to Arlington, and probably rode hill repeats later in the day.

Virginia side of the Potomac River
Virginia side of the Potomac River

It’s a nice loop. On a weekday (this was) I would be careful about ending up on the street portion (D.C. / Potomac) during rush hour. But, other than an angry driver or two jealous they had to work, this was a very good ride.

 


Swinging Bridge

HOLLIDAYSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA

I enjoyed the MS-150 route so much I decided I would do much of it in a one day ride. Rather than go south down around Locke Mountain to Roaring Spring, I would head up and over Locke Mountain. It would add a hard climb and save some miles.

Headed towards Williamsburg
Headed towards Williamsburg

I met follow url Rocky Sprow at Hollidaysburg High School. Rocky is my cousin, Tammy Winebark’s husband. When I told him my plan he seemed somewhat horrified by the thought of going over Locke Mountain and suggested a different route to Williamsburg. A route that would take us over a swinging bridge. So the plan was to follow Rocky’s route to Williamsburg at which point we would follow MS-150 cues.

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We headed out of Hollidaysburg. We turned onto Swinging Bridge Road and found the bridge. It was fun but not recommended.

The former Canoe Creek E.U.B. Church
The former Canoe Creek E.U.B. Church

Once we were on the road we passed a sign for Canoe Creek State Park. I asked Rocky how far it was to the Bat House. He thought I said “Bath House” and he said about a mile and a half. I told him I’d like to see it and he must have wondered why.

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We only went about 1/4 mile when we came to a church. I told Rocky to stop. He went around the back and found the sign designating this former church as a bat habitat. I later informed him that when my dad entered the ministry in 1958 this, Canoe Creek E.U.B. Church, was one of the three that he served as part of the East Freedom Charge.

Near Spruce Creek
Near Spruce Creek

We headed on US 22 before turning off to Williamsburg. From there we picked up the MS-150 route.

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We rode up to Spruce Creek then headed over to Tyrone. Just outside of Tyrone Rocky said he was cramping. We stopped at a beautiful bridge where he could stretch.

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We stopped at a Sheetz. I got some watermelon for Rocky. But after passing Del Gross park, Rocky cramped big time. He couldn’t ride any farther. Then I brought out my secret weapon – Hot Shot, which I had picked up in Colorado.

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Now I have tasted Hot Shot but never had to use it to fight cramps. I went into my saddle bag and brought it out. He asked “what is that?” I said “just drink it.” He opened it up and downed the whole thing. Maybe not in a chug but in a couple of swallows. I asked him how his cramps were and he said they were gone.

Rocky lying on the ground across the bridge. Cramps!
Rocky lying on the ground across the bridge. Cramps!

Although were they really? About 10 miles later we stopped in Altoona as Rocky needed another break. I went over and saw the Pennsylvania Rail Road museum while Rocky rested. I’m not sure if he was cramping again but in any case, I didn’t have an extra Hot Shot for him. But once I got back we hit the road and were able to finish with no further issues.

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That was a very nice loop route. I promised 50 miles and we did 70 so I was off by a little. But I got to test the anti-cramping product. Well, on Rocky.

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DISCLAIMER: I am not affiliated with Hot Shot at all. I was introduced to the product in Colorado in June as a new way of fighting cramps. I hope I don’t cramp and have to use it but on this day it worked for Rocky. I carry one with me.