The End of Father Time (Posts, that is)


No fewer than six times have I worried enough to blog about Father Time. He is, after all, undefeated. But why worry?

Last week I rode from Geistown (Johnstown) to Rossiter and was worried that I might not be as fast as I was on a ride 11 years ago. After controlling for similar segments (East Conemaugh to Arcadia), I concluded that I went at least the same speed. And if I parsed it further, stopping when I reached Northern Cambria then resuming when I left, I think I was faster last week than I was 11 years ago when I first rode this.

Kirspy Kreme, Belsano, Pa.

Today I had the realization that it doesn’t matter. Sometime, someday, Father Time will catch up with me. And so what?

I parked at the Kia dealership in Geistown (with permission) and headed down Scalp Avenue. I went straight through Johnstown, not electing for photo ops over by the Inclined Plane. When I came to East Conemaugh, my first timed segment began. I was 20 seconds or so up on my best time when it quit giving me feedback about halfway up the climb. I just continued the pace.

Northern Cambria, Pa.

Confirmation of a PR would have to wait until I uploaded my data to Strava. I needed 14:09 (2010) and came in at 13:20. It was good for #1 age group (an age group of two – apparently not many cyclists my age attempt this road and this climb).

The next two climbs “Don’t wanna go to school” and “Station Road Climb” forced me to quickly sit up. Although on the former I got my second best time and on the latter, I became the “local legend” (with two attempts in the past 90 days). Not only aren’t too many people my age riding this route, apparently not too many cyclists of any age ride out here.

Water stop at Sheetz, Northern Cambria, Pa.

Last week I smoked the segment from Belsano to Duman Lake (11:08 – KOM). Today I came in two minutes later. I rode yesterday in Virginia in 95º heat and it drained my resources. I had nothing left for today. Not expecting much on Blue Goose Climb to Nicktown I grabbed a PR (6:49), taking seven seconds off my PR of last week. That moved me up one place (to sixth) and kept me at #1 age group, being the only one in my age group.

Northern Cambria, Pa.

The temperature today was around 70º and very overcast. My shoes seemed to be constantly wet and I wasn’t sure if there was water coming off my front tire or I was dripping that much sweat (and I was). Right after Nicktown came the descent to Northern Cambria. This is untimed by Strava Live Segments so I rode reasonably hard. But I didn’t feel like I put in the KOM effort of last weekend and I was right. At 5:32 it was my second-best effort but was 0:14 off my mark from last week.

In Northern Cambria, I went to say hello to cousins Don and Nancy but it didn’t look like they were home. So I went to Sheetz. Filled my bottles with ice, bought a $0.99 bottle of water, topped them off, and headed to Cherry Tree.

Yinz Bar, Cherry Tree, Pa.

The roads turn “heavy” here and the road at Stifflertown had new tar and chips although I could ride it with no problems. Just not fast. I set a new best time for Stifflertown to Arcadia, even soft-pedaling near the end. I was chased by a big dog – couldn’t tell you what breed.

Then I headed off for Smithport. Arcadia to Trojan Road is not available for Live Segments as it is a slight downhill. Nor was I racing it – more Just Riding Along. But I set a PR (KOM) of 5:32 which was 0:04 better than last week.

I turned on Trojan Road and here is where the road turns up. And I was 7-8 seconds ahead of the Arcadia to Smithport segment. I maintained that lead until I turned off Trojan Road onto Williams Road and the climb. If the road turns up at Trojan Road, it turns up in anger at Williams Road. Less than one-half mile in length, I lost 27 seconds to last week’s KOM effort. And I figured then I had no chance at the larger Arcadia to Smithport segment. But I saw I was bringing the time back and finished in 20:32 which was 19 seconds better than in 2014.

Visiting Dad

Leaving Smithport I was riding in a very light rain although it would last for only about five minutes. Rather than go straight to the (Lowmaster) Reunion, I turned and went up Church Road to Fairview Cemetery. There I visited my dad’s grave. I am sure he approved.

But the short route to the reunion at Winebark Park also took me on dirt, gravel, and chip and tar road (almost all chips). Plus the entrance in and out of the park is dirt or grass so I gave up a lot of time there.

Tyger Road, Rossiter, Pa.

Unlike last week I did not care what my time was. And I am never going to worry about my time now compared to 10 years ago. There will be a time when I can’t produce the power or speed I did 10 years ago. But I am on a bike. And looking at my age group, I am doing things now that very few people my age are doing. So I am thankful for any speed. I am on a bike. I am finding peace.

Reunion in the Rain


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, examples of secondary essays for medical school go here how do you end a personal statement follow url viagra para animales follow site calliandra calothyrsus descriptive essay invention of viagra initial reason how to find my printers ip address mac aricept and pain follow link go to link como saber si ha tomado viagra essay on economy and jobs viagra haszn lata herbalznow viagra coupons allergic reaction to clomid changing places david lodge essay topics heaven essay source best cover letter writing service film titles in essays mla 200 words essay on diwali in hindi english and globalization essay annotated bibliography proofreading website ca does cialis affect the liver clomid gynecomastia treatment see url 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.



Punxsutawney Phil


I’ve done this ride before although never quite like this. It was “wheels down” at 6:30 a.m. on a cool morning with a cloud cover. I left Friedens and rode up Pa. Rte 281 to Stoystown and not a single car passed me. I stopped briefly to take a picture when I found one of the decorative 1930s gas pumps that celebrate the Old Lincoln Highway.

Old gas pump, Stoystown, Pa.

In Stoystown I got on Plank Road for what should have been an enjoyable descent down to and past the Quemahoning Reservoir. And then I remembered a couple of weeks earlier laughing at Frenchman Arnaud Demare stopping during the Tour de France and running into someone’s camper to use their bathroom. Karma would get her revenge today although there were no campers alongside these forested roads. The good thing is that no cars passed me on this stretch of road either. (**)it happens.

Quemahoning Reservoir

Riding my new Trek Domane, I was wondering if my average speed would be higher today than it was four years ago when I was chased by Rottweilers. But I rode at a relaxed pace, often stopping to take pictures. Or other things.

Arnaud Demare takes a comfort break during the Tour de France (2014)

In Northern Cambria at Mile 55, I stopped at the home of Don & Nancy Lowmaster for a needed water break. The sun had come out, it was warming up, and I had depleted my water. Nancy refilled my bottles with ice and water.

Fox Pizza, Davidsville, Pa. – My “One Hour” Photo

Although another 20 miles remained to my destination of a reunion site, these were the hardest miles for me. While the climb out of Johnstown seems somewhat steep, the road is good and the grade is constant. Once on these back country roads the climbs become stepper, the surface a little rougher, but for me, the hardest part is the grades are not consistent. It is hard to find a pedaling rhythm.

Coney Island, Johnstown, Pa. Hot dogs aren’t just for lunch anymore.

On Arcadia Road, I remembered a loose dog last year, so I sped up and went into stealth mode. I thought I was by safely. Then to my right heel was a pit bull chasing. Oh boy. But I was already 200 yards past his house and I think he was more chase than catch. At least today he was.

East Conemaugh, Pa., looking towards Johnstown

Just before Smithport someone went by and called out “Hi Barry.” I have no idea who it was.

Gobblers Knob, Punxsutawney, Pa.

After the reunion, I decided to ride on to Gobbler’s Knob and into Punxsutawney. I had never been to Gobbler’s Knob. It was another 6-7 miles with much of it on those nasty little climbs that are steep with no consistency. It was August 2 – six months after or six months before Groundhog Day. Was I early or was I late? It didn’t matter. It was a sweet ride down to Punxsutawney to end the day.

I had my dad leave the reunion and drive my car to the County Market in Punxsutawney to pick me up.

Gobblers Knob, Punxsutawney, Pa.

A check of the data shows I was not faster than four years ago although it was my second fastest time – even while not feeling so hot.

Punxsutawney Redeux


It’s reunion time! First the States reunion followed by the Lowmaster reunion the first two Saturdays in August. It gives me the opportunity to ride from my parents’ place near Somerset to the reunion site near Punxsutawney.

One hour photo – Top of Summit Hill out of Johnstown

I just can’t seem to leave early enough (daylight) to make it on time and decided to do something different today. Planning to drive to Pittsburgh to see the Steelers v. Giants with my father, I asked him to drive my car to Punxsutawney after dropping me at Davidsville, Pa.

This would knock the first hour off my trip but it also took 30 minutes or more driving there so it really only saved me 30 minutes. It also took 17 miles of the easiest riding out of the trip.

Two Hour Photo – Duman Lake, Cambria Co.

Grey and overcast, I wore arm warmers when I took off. Coming out of Johnstown, it started to rain, lightly. I just couldn’t escape the rain on these trips. Like last week, I felt good on the climb but managed a higher descending speed because the roads were mainly dry on this trip.

In Northern Cambria I stopped briefly at my cousins, Don & Nancy Lowmaster, for a water break but they weren’t home. No worries. I pushed on.

Three Hour Photo

In Cherry Tree I stopped for about 15 minutes and talked to the young clerk in the post office. I am friends with the postmaster, Michael Perrone, and was surprised to learn that he had recently retired.

I took the usual back roads through Banks and Canoe Townships in Indiana Co. At one point I came to some barking dogs, one unleashed. Not my friend. I like dogs and I was able to make friends with this one. He licked me. Although he wanted to chase me when I left.

Not quite my Four Hour Photo

I told my dad it would be 4 1/2 hours and I pulled in 4:40 minutes later — it was those extra 10 minutes in Cherry Tree.

I like this route. Route 271 between US 422 at Belsano and US 219 in Northern Cambria is especially nice. Great pavement and very little traffic plus a real nice four mile downhill from Nicktown to Northern Cambria. I’m ready for more reunions.

Punxsutawney Bound


It has been two years since I was able to ride to a family reunion. Yesterday’s forecast looked promising but just as soon as I left my parents’ place in Friedens, just north of Somerset, Pa., it started to rain.

What used to be a barn is now and auto sales lot in Davidsville

Riding with a broken collarbone I was a bit skittish as I rode. I was very afraid of having a spill on the road and landing on the collarbone. So I took it easy.

I stopped once an hour to take on food. While it was a just a gel that I normally take while I’m riding, I didn’t want to ride with one hand on the bars and one hand on the gel. It also allowed me to stop and take a one-hour photo to document where I was.

On the climb coming out of Johnstown on Rte 271

I have ridden the route enough to know the turns and climbs and find it quite enjoyable. The climb out of Conemaugh/Johnstown was quite enjoyable. I found myself with a comfortable pace albeit in the rain.

Horse poop. Amish Country. Three Hour Photo on PA 271 near Duman Lake Park

When I reached Northern Cambria, I stopped at the home of my 4th cousins, Don and Nancy Lowmaster. I had never stopped here before but warned them that one day I may stop for water. This was the day. Unfortunately, I was pretty squishy. When I moved you could hear water squishing. Nancy was great about cleaning the one bottle and refilling it with ice and water.

West Branch Susquehanna River near Cherry Tree. The river is so small here one can literally throw a stone from bank to bank.

As I left the skies really opened up. I was in a real downpour for the next 10 minutes but then the faucet was turned off for the day. By the time I reached Cherry Tree the sun was out, and other than my wet clothes, you wouldn’t have known it had rained.

Normally no one has every heard of Gipsy. But four months ago in Homestead, Fla., Craig Babst was talking about Gipsy like it was his hometown.

This was my first long effort since breaking my collarbone and I felt good. I feel as though I am starting to regain my form.

No Dogs This Year


Last year I biked from Somerset to Punxsutawney on consecutive weekends for family reunions. The lowlight was being attacked by Rottweilers and it has always made for some scary riding since. And the truth is, I have avoided that section of road ever since.

Today was a near-perfect day. Rain at the very start (I didn’t say it was a perfect day), cool enough to be comfortable although the sun eventually came out around Johnstown.

Coming out of Davidsville on Pa. Rte 403 there is a wonderful three-mile descent. The grade averages 6-7% and one can simply coast. In preparation for Mount Washington, I had removed the big ring off my bike so there was no pushing the speed to extreme heights. Traffic was light and respectful until some jerk came up behind me and laid on the horn. After he passed we approached a light and he stopped. He was very angry. He reached over to wind down his window (loser) and started screaming. “GET OFF THE F___ING ROAD!” I smiled and asked him why he was so angry. Just another day in the paradise of riding.

Arriving Johnstown I was passed by a large truck, slightly smaller than a dump truck. Just after passing me, it rounded a curve and a large piece of rebar came flying off the truck, crashing to the sidewalk and smashing into a telephone pole. A few seconds earlier that would have been me. Ouch.

In Johnstown, I passed Coney Island Hot Dogs. It was 8:30 a.m. I looked in the window and thought maybe they’d be serving breakfast but I saw a worker serving hot dogs. Who eats hot dogs at 8:30 a.m.? People in Johnstown, that’s who.

Conemaugh River Valley outside of Johnstown

The climb out of Johnstown on Pa. Rte 271 was nice. I could hear trains creeping in the valley. The cool air still enjoyable.

Twin Rocks

I followed 271 through Mundys Corners, Nanty-Glo, Twin Rocks, and Belsano Shortly after Belsano, I tried a new route – Snake Road. I thought at first it was named for serpents it soon became apparent that it was named for the way it snakes through the forest.

I came back to 271 and at Nicktown, followed it to Northern Cambria. I wasn’t going to take the shorter route through Marstellar and risk seeing those dogs again.

After Northern Cambria, I stayed on Rte 219 despite the warnings a bridge was out three miles ahead at Emeigh. It was. I simply took my bike and walked over it.

Bridge out on 291

After Cherry Tree, I used the Garmin for the first time to direct me. Each time I ride through here I seem to take different roads and I found some today. Once I got to Smithport, I knew exactly where I was going but there was one problem. Fresh oil/tar on the road. The last four miles had the tar and chip surface. Gravel is not a friend of road bikes and neither is tar. I arrived but the bike wasn’t in such good shape.

The worse sign a cyclist can see

Outside of the messy tar, it was a very enjoyable day on the bike. And no dogs.

Reunion Photo – Kay Walborn (far left), next to Barry Sherry