Welcome back, fans of Pennsyltucky!
I'd not had the bike out for several weeks and had a totally shitty
week of work, so created a Mental Health Restorative Route on the DeLorme. This was a full day; around 250 miles round trip on a stock KLR seat, which is about my limit of tolerance. I decided to head back up to Bald Eagle State Forest where I had wandered around back in 2011. I selected a bunch of new roads (and inadvertently picked a few I had ridden then!), loaded the GPS, and headed up 322. Though riding slab sucks, I have to admit 322 above Dauphin is a nice ride. Even on pavement. Even on a KLR. Even with a cloudy sky.
was to ride 15 up to Lewisburg and get the long slab out of the way first, but I made the mistake of blindly following the GPS and wound up doing the ride in reverse.
Doesn't really matter. The roads are so good I don't really mind, even if they were ones I had been on before. I began my gravel on Locust Ridge Road (photos of which are shown earlier in the thread where the paved road does a hairpin at the entrance). I meandered over to Weikert after stopping (again) at the scenic overlook:
Hazy, of course. This is Pennsylvania.
And the same photo sans Awesome Adventure Bike:
Yeah, I know, really scenic. Just a bunch of trees.
Well, it's a good spot to stop for a pee.
Obligatory shot of smooth gravel forest road:
Random commentary: okay, so these roads aren't really challenging. I get that. A lot of you would be bored on this stuff. You can go 90 mph if you dare with little worry (particularly since this road is mostly straight). You could probably ride a Fat Boy on these roads if you didn't mind cleaning it afterwards. I like this stuff; it's in the woods, and I just enjoy the sensation of the bike dancing around on the loose surface. It requires a little more participation without beating the crap out of my aging body like the rougher, more technical stuff. Which I also like, and we will get to shortly.
Ever aware of abandoned railroad beds and other remnants, I begin to notice what used to be a rail line alongside Weikert Road. It's actually been turned into a rail trail, and was the former West Shore Railroad that ran from Lewisburg to Mifflinburg (and, apparently, beyond...most likely to Millheim). Service ended in 1997 and the 12 mile roadbed was sold in 2008 to become the Buffalo Valley Rail Trail http://bvrt.org/History/
The trail terminates prior to this removed bridge. The line was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), and they were known for using huge cut stone blocks for both abutments and the bridges themselves. This one would have been steel. Nicely preserved and the road and creek go right through it. Private property all around, and nothing really to see from up top so you don't have to trespass like I did.
So I encounter this sign, the first of these I've ever seen:
Not on my route, but hey, we need to investigate this!
Well, it's very ride-able, but on a KLR it's mostly first gear:
The ruts are quite deep and the whole trail is really rocky, though not so miserable it passes from challenging to unbearable.
Noted on the map for future investigation.
I turn around and head back to my mapped route. The farther I rode, the more recent storm damage I saw. Mostly small branches lying in the road, but occasional spots where something had been chainsawed. However, rounding a corner I encountered this (yeah, that yellow tape would have been helpful back another 100 yards).
KLR and rider easily fit underneath. Not so the guy in the F150 I passed coming the other way.
Cresting the top of a hill, I turn onto the last gravel road I had picked from the Bald Eagle map I downloaded, Nittany Mountain Road. This was marked on the map as a "drivable trail". With the F150 guy coming behind me I turned onto it without paying much attention, and the road immediately turned to crap. Horrific ruts, tons of rocks, very technical riding lugging along in 1st gear. Other than a few indications of people coming back the road in decidedly lifted 4x4s to drink and party, nobody used this road. I made it about a mile and forded a few puddles before I encountered this:
I checked the DeLorme and I'd gone maybe a mile. I had about 4 more to go, and the unused road could possibly have downed trees across it and more of these questionable stagnant, mosquito breeding puddles to ford. While it doesn't look intimidating in the photo, trust me, without wading into it there was no telling if it had a bottom full of rocks or thick, sticky mud. By myself, in a place no normal vehicle could get to if something went awry? I voted:
So yeah, I'm a wuss. But I'm a clean, dry wuss. As I return to the intersection, I finally notice the sign...which says "Dead ends in 4 miles".
I took an alternate route on Running Gap Rd (which was actually pretty nice) and made my way to Lewisburg, onto 15 south, and back to civilization. My butt was sore, but it made me forget about how my life will suck again 8am Monday morning for awhile, so it was a good day.
Stats, for those of you who geek out on this kind of thing: