Saturday, December 31, 2011

circumnavigate the lake

December 25th generally marks the day when I pack the up the dog and bike and head east towards the homeland (Valley Forge/ Phoenixville.) This year I got the pass from the family to stay in the huntingdon area for the holiday and enjoy Christmas in my own way.

Now before I start into this, let me say that I am not the grinch and I don't hate Christmas it is just not the holiday for me. But the traffic and idea of driving three hours is absolutely horrifying. Having spent so much time on the Allegrippis Trails, Rothrock State Forest, and the areas countless miles of gravel I felt it was time to revisit an old advasary: Terrace Mountain Trail.

Last summer I was dumb enough to attempt the ride on a traditional 29er singlespeed mountain bike with 80mm of suspension. To say the least it was a pain having a bike during that hike. During the twelve hour ride around the lake I vowed never to ride the TMT again (unless with the right bike.)

For most people the Terrace Mountain Trail is simply the trail on the otherside of the lake. But know little about it really. The trail is 30 miles long and ranges from gravel roads to near vertical ascents, covering the entire length of Lake Raystown.

The Bike:
Salsa Mukluk Fatbike with Jandd Frame Bag and Knog Frog Lights for getting home in the dark.
One Bottle Cage.. regretably.
Osprey Hydration Pack

The Ride:I left the shop in Huntingdon around 9am and headed out to the trailhead on Corbins Road about six miles away. After rolling for 20 minutes I hit the yellow trussed bridge that marks the beginning of the Corbin Road climb a long grinding gravel climb that weaves for 2.5 miles up the side of terrace mountain. Corbin road is a great warm up climb as it never gets overly steep and has some great views facing south down the lake. After climbing three quarters up the mountain there is a large rock on the side of the road covered in yellow paint.

This rock apparently marks the start of the Terrace Mountain Trail at the north end. Not much of a welcome mat. Beyond the rock there is a short rough road that winds down the mountain a few hundred feet till opening into a large pad....parking lot?

Misleading Start- Off the bat I was making great time with recently cleared trails and flat rolling trail. This only lasted about two miles.
 Very peaceful meadow just off of the Hawns Road portion of the Terrace Mountain Trail.
Despite the big meat there was plenty to push over.
Very cool peninsula the trail runs down to the lake making a large sweeping turn into the hillside just beyond the red patch in the center. Plenty of briars for everyone!


Very cool bridge section just outside of Trough Creek State Park. There where some very cool bear tracks across the first bridge. Smudged pads with heavy claw marks.
Bottom of Trough Creek. this is the old road bed that connected over to the town of Aitch.

I cruised my way up the old road bed into the park. Over the bridge back to the trail. After getting to the resort It started getting dark and I stopped taking pictures and rode! An amazing trip, I am currently looking to evaluate what needs to be done to save this trail. As it is currently in horrible disrepair.  Maintenance is just the begninng this trail needs a makeover. The value of this trail to the local community, the outdoor community  and the potential for the area is amazing. 
tis the season. merry xmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Blazed and Confused

Before I start this rant:
1- Allegrippis Trails are on federal land
2- It is legal to hunt on federal land
3- I am not a hunter but undersand others do utilize hunting as a form of gathering food and a form of sport. And fully support the act of respondsible hunting fishing etc etc.
4- Hunting seasons extend year round and cannot be defined simply by a set period of dates.
5- Mountain Biking or hiking doesn't impact the safety other users directly or remotely while participating in said sport. And also does not require other users to change there activities based on actions of others. ie. closing the entire woods to any other non hunting user.
6-Mountain Biking does not generally leave game mamed or without a head in the wild.
7- I am yet to come across a individual who maintains the Allegrippis or Old Loggers trails strictly for the purpose of hunting.

I walk my bike past a group of four white males dressed in bright orange and camoflage....seemingly contradictory. I offered up a simple "hey guys hows it going." Only to be berated by this group of fellow trail users. Although not necessarily mountain bikers these guys still were using the trail as a hiking path to stalk there game....whitetail deer.

"WTF are you out here."
"You know its hunting season."
"I've been hunting these lands for 30 years!"
"The game comission closed these trails for us."
" You cant ride here."

Well instead of being my usual bull headed and blunt self as I had no big gun and no fancy orange camo vest...I kept walking (I was however wearing bright orange jersey that was designed to be legal during hunting season.) And gave them a simple "take care."

So let me set the facts straight.

Keep in mind this group of simple minded users was indeed walking on the very trail which I work to maintain both before, during, and after hunting season. I know its hard to imagine a time when hunting isn't leagal. Never had I seen any of these users at workdays, trail related meetings, or clean-up days. I did however find more shotgun casings on the trail than clif bars, gel packets, or hiking/ biking related trash combined... in just two weeks!

 The game comission (which despite being publicly funded)  has yet to offer up signage to appropriately sign the trail as an open hunting area and it is not ever maintained as a "hunting trail." And we had to go asking for appropriate signage to protect the non-hunters out hard as that is to believe.

I personally voted to close the trail for the two week deer season.....not for the safety of the rider but for the integrity of the hunt! Sort of a good neighbor policy. Only extending the welcoming arm of the Corps which opens most their gates for hunters.

Part Two:
So after riding out on the Allegrippis Trails which are open to hunting I decided that I better not interact with anymore "trail users" and decided to ride the trails in town (Huntingdon) which are closed to hunting as it is technically in a residential district.

Instead I rode out the trails I ride year round (not just during hunting season) only to find a beheaded deer carcass strewn across the trail on land that is not legal to hunt. You'd think with so much State Game Lands and Federal lands you would have enough land to "hunt/ sit and wait." Apparently not, this large buck was shot and killed only to have its head taken to the local taxidermist as a "trophy." Not only a disgrace to hunters but also to our small town.

After continuing the ride and jumping back on the roads I noticed a large black trash bag at the entrance of the game lands. Yep you guessed it more deer carcass leftovers. Awesome! So I guess its standard practice to berate other land users, dispose of blooded carcasses, trash public land, and poach whitetail.

You might have guess I'm not supporting this whole Sunday hunting scene.

Meanwhile, "recent research suggests" $850 million would be put into the PA economy if we allow Sunday hunting. Is this really the land use that we want to see? So instead of allowing the non-hunters one day a week we are going to take all of that away from all users. How many volunteer and paid hours need to be spent to clean up after each season?

So in an effort to increase mountain biking opprotunities remember:
Next time you get a flat just pitch the tube in the woods.
Next time you have a Clif bar leave the wrapper where you ate it.
Next time you park at the trail head empty your cigerrette tray and case of 22oz PBRs in the parking lot.
Next time you go ride make sure to complain to the other users why the shouldn't be there. And if they don't listen threaten them while holding a weapon.
Next time you ride do it on trails that are band to mountain bikes.
Next time you ride make sure to put obstactles in the way of other users with the intent to injure them.
And always take more from the area that you give back!

And with all of that maybe they'll extended mountain bike season into hunting season because clearly by trashing the world in which we live we gain more respect for our government.

All users have rights to the land until they abuse those rights.
It's probably less than 30% of the users but really everyone I've happened to bump into seems pissed I exist as another land user.  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

daily wanderings

The last several weeks have been filled with to much trail work, to much rain, and not enough trail riding. After getting pissed off at the Pa One Call Guys and fed up with the BS of the contracting world I decided to get some pictures of what had been completed in the short span of several weeks.
One of the several culverts along the new, yet to be named connector trail. This is at the powerline cut, which despite having to call the PA One Call number and have 9 different companies approve the scrapping of topsoil, turned out to be a pull-line: meaning it is empty and designed for future use. Pa One Call is the service you have to call if excavating, in at any depth.
This is a portion of roughed in trail approximately 1/4 mile from the visitors center. As you can see the flow of the Allegrippis has been preserved in this new trail.
As I stated earlier the rain and work never seemed to end. This is a section of "traditionally" well draining soil along this new trail. (This was for research purposes only and the new trail is not open to the public.) In an effort to minimize our impact on the new bit of trail Jake and I took to the water.

The Salsa Mukluk as I have said before, consistently amazes me in terms of both its capability and personality. In this particular case it really shined when a small stream had formed a steep rock walled gorge that had some awesome water from the recent storm event.
Jake in crusing a slide at the top of the stream. Photos never do justice so let me just say it's super slick.
This is just after I came through the gorge and happened upon a ragin' hole. Just out of the photo is the next picture.

The large pool of water that was way cold but def. rideable. Just out of view is the water fall that created this large pool. Seen in the picture below.
Getting ready to drop the falls pretty wild the first time through. Any way we wrapped up about two miles down stream at the lake. My battery died and well that was it for pictures that day.
Pedal America TV came to visit the trails this past week bringing with them a seven person crew and cast. Many cameras, laughs, and horrible lines. Be sure to catch the episode when it airs on PBS and several other stations in the spring.

Camera, sound, white balance, and lines all in tact up at the Dam overlook.
On the berm headed down Dark Hollow there was a three person crew taking pictures and video with cameras that cost more than my truck.

At the Sleek Dog crossing on Susquehannock Road, RMBA club member Charlie Hoover and Pedal America host Ira Levy ride up the road to the crossing for some good conversation.

Some times you just need to have some fun.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Connector Trail Progress

As most of the folks in the area are completely unaware of the new connector trail I figured I'd add some photos to introduce the new section of trail being completed as I write this. The trail will link the Visitors Center at the Seven Points Recreation Area, to Ridge Campground, and continue over to the Dark Hollow Trail on the Allegrippis Trails System.

Trail construction is currently following the same process as the original trails as not to take away from the quality and personality of the entire system. Long sweeping turns combined with cleaning spaced grade reversals will make this a great addition to the current 32 miles of trail.

This is one of the long open corridors where the trail will be constructed. Shannon Cotrell is off in the distance tying a flag to identify the intended path of the trail. Much of the area was recently timber harvested and was quite thick with tops of trees and logging left overs.
This Wednesday was the annual Day of Caring where we had 40 volunteer students come from the Huntingdon High School to assist in removing all of the slash and leaf matter from the surface of the new trail. This is done to eliminate the debris from the soil mix that will comprise the trail tread. If there is any amount of biomass trapped in the trail bed it begins to rot and cause pock marks, ultimately creating more work down the road.
The students followed the flags with their tools approximately 1/4 mile and really did a great job of what they where asked to complete. Sure there was some whining when it start to rain, but that's to be expected!

First pass with the SWECO mini-dozer cut a really nice bench in the soft clean slope. After a second pass with the dozer and a third with a stand behind rig, the trail will be completely roughed in. After the roughing in with machine, the five foot wide corridor will be ready for hand finishing. - Photos to follow

Sunday, September 25, 2011

wading through bicycles

I woke up everyday this week before the 6:00am buzzer sounded and sat there thinking of what bike was I to build, repair, or otherwise nurse back to health, or finish a pre-season (which I absolutely hat the concept of. So, that's my best reason for not keeping folks informed of the happenings on the trails. Below you will find a quick list of things happening at the trails that might actually matter to you.

Catch Up list:

1. Grant money from several sources (one of which is Specialized Bicycles) ] for contracting out a connector trail connecting the visitors center to the south end of the trails (Dark Hollow Tr.) is in the hands of the Alleghenies. The idea of the trail is to increase parking for the system, provide access to restrooms, provide direct campground access, provide direct interaction with the visitors center, and to get trail users off of Seven Points Road when accessing the trailhead.
2. DirtFest 2011 came and is gone. There was a awesome turn-out with 1500-2000 people estimated to have attended. This years festival had visitors from over 28 states and 3 countries. All profits from the event went directly back to the trail system. 20+ kegs were found empty. 8 houseboats where moored on Susquehannock Campground. Dates for next year have been announced May 18-20th of 2012.

3. The Friends of Raystown Lake (FRL,) our partnership is with this non-profit organization, will be taking over the operations of all the Seven Points Recreation Area campgrounds and Susquehannock Campground. This is part of an agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers in an effort to not only improve the campgrounds but also improve the end user experience at the facility. This will not directly affect the partnership that the Raystown Mountain Bicycling Association has with the organization nor will it directly impact the trail system.

4. Barrel Bay is set to be logged by a timbering company shortly (yes I know precise and I'm sure I'll get a few emails asking exacts...I don't know.) The logging will close a portion of the Barrel Bay trail looking like December. In a cooperative effort to mitigate the impacts of the logging on trail users, the ACoE allowed the use of a connector trail between the lower portion of Barrel Bay and up to Shade. This allows users more miles than if the entire trail had been closed.

5. Brock Lowery of Ironwood Outdoors will be coming up to cut the new connector trail to the visitors center (see #1) during the week of September 26-30th. In the following weeks volunteer labor will be used to do the finish work on the trail with the intentions of potentially opening the trail for use next spring (2012.)

And because I haven't tossed and good pictures of my most recent trips and you go. Enjoy.
Shannon Is right in the middle sorta to the left.
Connector Trail getting flagged...Shannon is somewhere down there.
Juniata College Inbound Group helping out with a small climbing berm. That also happens to be a member of the Raystown Mountain Bicycling Association Nicky Deak.

Juniata College BikeShare of the many reasons I haven't posted on this blog in over a month now. I think most of you will appreciate this one.
oh cool.....another picture of a bike in sunlight....yeah its cool because its the Karate Monkey.
The Bob Ibex Trail loaded with the mini STIHL brush chainsaw on the Salsa Fargo...perfect except the occasional downpours this morning.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mushrooms Everywhere

Crazy Mushrooms forming all around the trails... Guessing its the hot damp weather that we've seen recently.

I was out late the other night scouting out some upcoming service projects for several larger groups that we have coming to the trail system for trail work days. As I was cruising through the woods from trail to trail with the Dinah dog, I started noticing a plethora of crazy colored mushrooms. As I am no mycologist, I simply snapped some shots and hope to get some information one the different fungi.

Monday, August 22, 2011

inbound outbound.

Trail work is great.... and sometimes better with help. Today Juniata College "inbound" freshman visited the trails to work and ride. We met up early and did some cleaning and clearing on the the Buck and Fawn Trails. The 12 volunteers that made up the group put out a tremendous effort to remove debris and dirt from the drains in many of the grade reversals.

Interested in trailwork opportunities for your organization or upcoming community service needs. Contact Me-

Thursday, July 14, 2011

oh no

well the mukluk was fun...but the Raystown Facility is about to become that much more accessible.

And yes.

Friday, July 8, 2011

boulder fields and big moth

Been a good week for riding with cooler evening and night time temps hitting as low as 60.
As the Allegrippis tends to get pretty busy on the weekends I've been trekking around the area in search of fresh trail. As it should happen found some great snowmobile trails and singletrack on my last ride, which yielded some pretty wild terrain with massive boulders and spires in excess of 40 ft sticking through the woods.
The Salsa Fargo has been my bike of choice for getting lost afterwork and even on some great camping trips. Now with just under 1000 miles on the bike, its time to nitpick. The fit of the bike and rake on the fork has been improved over last years model, however many of the parts on the complete have seem to taken a quick beating.
-The Cane Creek Thudbuster seatpost, is a great piece of equipment on this beast softening the blow of harsh ruts and water-bars on gravel roads. However, it lacks durability as it seems to be always rattling. The bushings are indeed replaceable but with the intended use of post and bike seems like they are lacking.
-The lack of barrel adjusters or inline adjusters on the shifters seems a bit odd as 10-spd has a tendency to be slightly more finicky with reduced spacing in the cassette; it'd be nice is all I'm saying.
-The WTB saddle has already begun to hammock quite severly an issue that I've had before with WTB's Lazer V and Speed. Despite the hammock it is still rather comfortable, although I'll be switching to the tried and true WTB Devo, as it does not seem to hammock nearly as quickly.
-The rims on the stock bike de-tensioned very quickly, prior to loaded camping or heavy use. After re-tensioning the wheels they have held relatively true. For the money they are decent.
-Last is more of a recc'd upgrade which would be the hubs.....engagement is severely lacking and when pickin' through the rocky stuff they just could be a little more precise.

As a whole the bike is a great value for the $1625 asking price and if you haven't jumped on one yet be sure to throw a leg over next time you stop by the shop.

I'm no photographer but the moths have been out and I finally found one hanging out.

Friday, June 17, 2011

somedays you just need to get gone

Its early in the season but the rentals and service always seem to take over all the dimensons of my day. Sometimes its just right to leave at dark and return at dawn from a ride. The Salsa Fargo has been a wonderful tool for just such outtings, with it's Anything Cages installed, I can ride just about anywhere and sleep out for the night. Ridding back before the Dinah Dog needs to be walked.
Late night after the Eagles Nest Outfitters hammock and Superfly are set-up.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dirtfest a success

Thats right nearly 1200 people showed up for three days of camping, riding, beer, and fun!

Complete with an epic, bike rodeo, womens ride series, beer school, pa tourism rally, and great live music, everyone was sure to have a good time. As the weather finally cleared late Friday morning the campers began to arrive in force. With bike strapped every which way on roofs and trunks the event began to really shape up....

Thursday, April 28, 2011

wet weather exploration

The trails have been really hit or miss lately with the massive rain storms followed by dry spells.
In an effort to minimize the impact on the Allegrippis....I've been searching for other two wheeled happiness in the greater Raystown region.

I only just realized the capabilites of the Mukluk as a creeker. Literally cruising down the center of the creeks out to the lake, similar to the winter adventures only several months ago. Unfortunately, no video yet but we are working on that...... enjoy.

During different type of exploration for new trails and fun gravel grinders, I encountered a bit of a setback on my early morning ride. When is a bridge not a bridge?
If you look off to the left of the picture you can see the old metal bridge laying in a cornfield. Minor setback but turned out to be a blessing in disguise......

Riding past the pulpit rocks just after sun-up.
The last three on the Fargo are all from the same weekly morning ride through Huntingdon out towards Baree and Spruce Creek than winding back towards Petersburg and the town of Cottage. Come out and get lost.