Ligonier. Almost.


With apologies to Joanna Freeman for borrowing her blog title, Made it to Ligonier (Almost).

This was the day that I really looked forward to. I was meeting a cancer group, Team Portland, and escorting them from Bedford to Ligonier. It was a cold 43 degrees as I rode out of my parents’ house in Friedens for the ride over the mountain to Bedford to meet the 4K.

Out of the box I hit the mile and a half climb on Pompey Hill Road and its 18% grade. Damn it. My legs weren’t ready for that shock. But once that was over it was a matter of getting on US 30 and making my way, mostly down, to Bedford.

I joined the group at the Cannondale plant tour, already in progress. It took me just a few minutes to ask someone if this was a plant or a museum as the guide kept explaining how they used to make bikes there. They still do – just not as many. And it missed how much of the work is now outsourced.

New Cannondale Bikes in Bedford

Although the planned route was listed as 62 miles, I knew with two major climbs it would be a long day. I had hoped to go around the first small climb that goes to Schellsburg on US 30 by going to Manns Choice on PA 31 and over the lake at Shawnee State Park. It would add three miles but avoid the nasty climb. Instead, we did the nasty climb and stayed on 30.

We were joined for the first five miles by some employees from the Cannondale plant. See, they don’t make as much there as they used to, above. It was great having them ride with us.

After leaving Schellsburg and passing the Buffalo farm, it is a six mile climb up Allegheny Mountain. Four miles up we stopped at Lookout Point. I told anyone who listened that there used to be a “Ship Hotel” here years ago. It was hard to explain.

As we rolled out for the final two miles I was delighted that we passed the only building on the route, an antiques barn, and it had a painting of the ship hotel. You don’t see those things when you fly by in a car.

Joanna Freeman

After summiting the climb we continue on the stretch of road known as Seven Mile Stretch or Longview. At the end we descended to the Flight 93 Memorial. I had arranged a visit with the National Park Service on a tight schedule and was a little nervous when only one group entered the park. I rode back up the hill to Longview and saw more riders on the side of the road. At first it appeared they were taking a break. I was not happy as we needed to move the group along. But then I saw they were talking to someone and that made me smile.

On some day schedules, and speed, are important, but the mission is talking with people. And they had met a woman from the Flight 93 Memorial Garden. In fact, after they left I stayed and talked some more.
Eventually we gathered all the riders and the Park Service let us out a back gate onto Buckstown Road. Hoping to make time I also routed the group over a small road called Covered Bridge Road.
Call it my screw up because my local intel failed to mention it was a gravel road and I hadn’t pre-ridden it. And it would get worse.
Gobblers Knob road was also gravel but it was actually closed. The temporary road had heavy gravel on it. We only had 200-300 yards and I powered through it but most riders walked it.

We got through Friedens and over to Beulah Church where Pattie and Margaret Cramer served a full picnic “lunch” even though it was 5:00 p.m. After dinner the team leaders knew some riders could not make the final climb. Some were unsure and some certainly could. But the leaders wanted to have a team meeting as it was only Day 3 and they yet to do that. They decided to shuttle all the riders to Ligonier.

I would take anyone who wanted to go with me, and some did, but the team was all for one and one for all. I went on solo.

I stopped for pictures and kept thinking they would pass me. It was only between Laughlintown and Ligonier that they passed me and I soon arrived in Ligonier as they were unloading their first group.

I had almost 90 miles on the bike while my friends had 40. I got the bragging rights.

2 Replies to “Ligonier. Almost.”

  1. I checked your temperatures. Hot. Very Hot. It's going to be 111 degrees here. Like you, I am not discouraged about exercising. I put on my new shoes. Opened the garage door. Warmed up. Closed the door and retreated to my Lazy Boy. Must have burned a thousand calories. Yes, I'm ready for the big time.

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