Thursday, November 29, 2012

November News

It is hard to believe it's already deer season and we are again closing the trails to users in hopes to "protect the integrity of the hunt," as part of a cooperative effort to encourage the multiple uses for public land. For two weeks every year the Allegrippis Trails System and much of the rest of Central Pa's woods close down to all other users and opens to deer season.

That said it has been a very busy year on the trails and prehap's it's best to give them and those that maintain them a well deserved break. With visitation reports topping out at a little over 6000 users to the Baker Hollow Parking Lot alone, the trails have seen an amazing amount of use. With the opening of the new VeeCee trail we have seen the south end develop tremendously as users ride these trails more than ever. The lines are starting to develop on even the furthest reaches of Allegheny suggesting more users are finally making it out to this, fairly unique for the system, trail.

With increased use comes the potential for increased injuries, fortunately the signage for the system has finally been completed to the point where it corresponds exactly with the Emergency Response Maps that we created over two years ago. This mapping/ signage system provides trail-users with a two letter site designation at all major intersections and road crossings, that makes accident sites a bit more easy to locate for responders. Another long project finally finished.

Other projects on the trail system have included the mapping and first phases of construction on the new connector (Ridge Spur-dotted line) from the entrance of Ridge Campground to the VeeCee Trail. This will allow users to connect up with the new rubberized walking trail that will ultimately follow a similar loop to Seven Points Road. Connecting the campgrounds, beach, visitors center, marina, and boat launch to each other. The trail is set to be completed for the early spring of 2013. This will be a tremendous addition to the facility and one that is long over due.

A smaller yet probably more apparent project was the completion of the new fencing around the Bakers Hollow Parking lot. The fencing that was originally installed was regular split rail and was only buried to a depth of about a foot. The new fencing is 6x6 timbers buried two feet a much more sturdy solution, now you might ding your bumper instead of just plowing the fence down.

The trails will re-open in just over a week just in time for a little bit of fat bike fun. As I am throughly convinced there is no better way to enjoy the wintertime on the trails than on a fatbike. Interested in trying one out? Stop by the shop.  
Jake and Ellis Preppin some fat tired bicycles last winter. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

for the kids.

As I have never fathered a child, I am quite happily not a dad.
Don't get me wrong kids are nice and everything, so long as they are your's or someone else's.

That being said I wholeheartedly support the notion that it is important to act as a role model and provide a unique environment in which they are able to learn and grow as individuals. This was part of the reason that nearly two years ago at a Tuesday night mountain bike club meeting I brought up the notion of hosting our own Take a Kid's Mountain Biking Day, as part of IMBA's nationally sanctioned day.

 As with any structured or organized event, a certain amount of planning and preparation needs to happen for the even to be successful. Generally planning for DirtFest starts the week after. After formal letters for approval where written, reviewed, and sent off to the ACoE (Army Corps of Engineers) planning was underway. With a lack of children to call my own I felt the planning and organization was best left up to those with real kids

Despite my best efforts to be hands off with this mini-event as days drew closer it became obvious that more organization and publicity needed to happen to make the day worth anyone's while. After several phone calls and emails where made, we secured ensure enough Clif bars, water bottles, schwag, and imitation (don't tell the kids) race plates to keep the kids happy. As the last thing I want to here is someone whining.

Well with rain in the forecast and having already fallen that cold morning, we debated cancelling the event, but with no rain date nothing would've happened for the kids. Shortly after 8:20am, keep in mind the schedule start wasn't until 9am, our first participant showed up with his father in tow.

Both where simply excited to be there despite the weather and early rise on what could have very easily have been just another sleep-in late Saturday morning. Shortly thereafter Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day at the Allegrippis got underway with nearly twenty kid's lining up to get race plates, put on their bikes.

Club secretary, father, and retired teacher. Driving force behind TKMTB
" I love my trails " IMBA Sticker application.
Treats and Prizes. Kids apparently love prizes. 

Makings for a derby.
At one point I turned around to see a younger guy geeking out on another ones bike, apparently really impressed by the parts spec and red bell on it. As the fella stood back up, the owner of the bike was standing there wearing an unassuming look. "I really like the color of yours," he said as he pushed his bike up in the race plate line.  The owner smiled an nodded.
this is my only child. 

Sometimes it's easy to forget the simple things. Thanks kids.

Monday, October 1, 2012

falling into autumn

The trails have been chock full of riders for the last several months and volunteers have stayed busy beating down briar bushes and cleaning up after overnight storms. The dust is again beginning to settle on this summer much as it has in past years, with a few slightly browned leaves littering the switchbacks.

As I'm sure many riders have noticed the trails have been maintained far better than in previous years, not to knock previous years work, but only to praise this years that much more. From the several late night sessions prepping the trails for 2,000 riders at DirtFest, to the mid summer evenings spent lopping off ends of briars only with the owls to keep us company summer looks like it will end with some of the best riding trails in the east riding their best.

This year unlike years in the past we have used non-traditional methods to maintain a large work crew in a little community. For those not aware Huntingdon, Pa. is a borough of less than 7,000 with not much or many in the surrounding area. So how do you maintain and continue to build on 33 miles of pristine mountain bike trails. The credit goes largely to a select few who will remain anonymous until told otherwise, that continuously visit the trails week in and week out in search of perfection. Several relatively new to the sport riders paired with a handful of old school traditionalists have helped keep these trails riding great.
Huntingdon High School Students hard at it during a Clean-Up day! 
However, as volunteers do get tired we need to periodically go outside the traditional means of attracting riders and work on growing the volunteer base by attracting non-riders. This means utilizing programs that are set up exclusively to get help to community based organizations that are ineed, such as AmeriCorps, United Way, and Community Work Programs operated by our states Correctional Institutions.
Outdoor Adventure Women of Central Pa helping
out with the finishing touches on VeeCee Trail
This fall be sure to keep an eye out for new faces on the trails. Whether it is Caleb our ever hard working Americorps trail steward or some of our new department of corrections friends, the trails will be in better shape this fall than any previous one. Looking to get involved personally? Check out the annual work weekend happening October 19-21st

Friday, July 13, 2012

dirt quest

Another spring has passed, as has another Dirt Rag Dirt Fest. This year marks the third Dirt Fest at Raystown, and the fifth overall. Spanning nearly two decades, Dirt Fest remains an event that few can really grasp or understand without attending. Dirt Fest is an event originally conceptualized in 1990 by a the fine folks at Dirt Rag Publishing. At the time, Dirt Rag was an an up-and-coming mountain bike magazine published in Pittsburgh, trying to communal fun on the mountain bike. 

Ranger Gwinn, Evan G., and Friends of Raystown Mr. Ron Rabena get ready for the tape cutting and four years of arguments, agreements, handshakes, and head shakes. 
The event started as an informal weekend away in the woods at Camp Soles, Rockwood, PA. as both a celebration of the mountain bicycle and a camping weekend with new friends. After two years at Camp Soles, Dirt Rag put the event on hold as the focus on journalism took center stage.  As the sport of mountain bicycling grew, so did the magazine, industry, and mountain bicycle trails. 
Evening of May 9th 2009, when the Allegrippis became infamous
In 2009, word of the grand opening of the Allegrippis Trails spread on the mountain bicycle internet forums. So much so, that on the day of the ribbon cutting more than 400 folks showed up ready to ride.  One of the parties in attendance was Dirt Rag publishing, whom took notice of this newly developed venue.  With the underlying goal of Dirt Fest as an event that "promotes the mountain bicycling community" and focuses on bringing new riders into that community, the Allegrippis Trails and Raystown Lake appeared to serve as the perfect venue for an event such as this. 
Man with a plan at the Grand Opening.
After the Grand Opening, Dirt Rag's publisher-in-chief Maurice Tierney contacted Evan Gross of Rothrock Outfitters and Raystown Mountain Bicycling Association, for information on the event and how things went. After a few different conversations about the culture of the sport, the new trail system, and the goal of Dirt Fest to bring riders together, it seemed a natural partnership. In the winter of 2010, the first Dirt Fest to occur in nearly two decades was tentatively planned for that May. 
Expo Central at 2012 Dirt Rag Dirt Fest.
Photo:Rob Sharer
Fast forward two years, and we have an event drawing over two thousand people from thirty-five states, four countries, and hundreds of bicycle clubs. The benefit to the community cannot only be seen in the hotels and restaurants, but with the growing pedal-friendly community riding around the towns and back roads of the greater Raystown region. 

Rebecca Rusch and the women's only clinics a huge success at Dirt Fest 2012
Photo: Rob Sharer
Prep night with Raystown Mountain Bicycling Association Members and friends. Atop the houseboat HQ.
Photo: Rob Sharer

Monday, March 19, 2012

Late Winter? Gravel Grinder

Perfect Century Weather-

After a long Saturday at the shop during the 50 degree sunny day, I reckoned it was time for a long gravel loop through the greater Rothrock area. The weather was looking like high 30's,  moderately sunny, with strong winds, a perfect day for long gravel miles. With the winds supposedly exceeding 30 mph gusts the gravel roads offered welcomed shelter from the regular exposed ridge roads and long flats through farm country.

Last weekend Paul Tony and I traveled (by plane no less) to Minnesota for a weekend at our distributor, Quality Bicycle Products headquarters, for some seminars, clinics, facility review, and product introductions. A bit out of place in an entry about a ride in Rothrock but here I was exposed to a number of different mountain touring set-ups and products. Already convinced by Salsa Cycles mantra of "adventure by bike" I was anxiously anticipating the set-ups for the ever intriguing and versatile Fargo. Their mountain touring set-up- wide drops, upright and relaxed geometry wonderful rigid steel bird (they fly) with more braze-ons and rack options than a Bilenky Tinker Tandem. As I am a self proclaimed bag freak I can accross a rather simple affair- Outdoor Research Bottle Parka #1 - Having never heard or found the need for such a device I had never envisioned such a thing.

A perfect fit in a Salsa Anything Cage
In my effort to keep all the weight possible of my back these simply bags have provided near endless storage for second layers, light systems, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and just about everything else. Slightly insulated and sorta water proof with a rubberized top and bottom. The bag was stuffed with a Canon D10 camera, Light and Motion Seca 300 Light, Sport Legs vial, and an extra wool base layer. On the opposite leg 24oz of water. On the main frame two 24oz bottles of water, an old fav. the Jandd Mountaineering frame pack stuffed with nutrition and Purple Lizard Rothrock map.

I headed out Route Penn Street and jumped on 26S at the State Correctional Institution Prison  and took Alexandria Pike. With Alexandria Pike passing by two state prisons, the wardens house, Pulpit Rocks, and ending with a gravely switchbacked downhill into farmland, it is a phenomenal way to start a day of riding. The surface is largely pocked and cobbled tarmack with no lines and minimal traffic. I hate road riding so if I'm going to do ride it better be exciting.
River Road all the Way to Alfarata.
Alfarata to Water Street On the Lower Rail Trail.
Jump Onto 45 towards Spruce Creek.
Just after the massive farm mansion on the left make a right onto the unmarked road heading into A portion of Rothrock State Forest known as Colerain. The road quickly turns to gravel and climbs up the back of Tussey Mountain just above with great views of Spruce Creek as the road winds up the mountain. The gravel goes from better to worse as you get to the top eventually intersecting with Tram and Mule Roads. They where just that. Tram Ways and Mule Roads.

Back in the golden age of central Pa's mining and timbering activities. Fortunately trams and mules done like overly steep grades, so they are long and gradual but demanding none the less. The #4 gravel and occasional washout made for a great grind up Tram, than Harry's Valley all the way to Pa 26 North. Here is where the first snow started falling. Giant quarter dollar flakes fell on the road suddenly I was in 2" of fresh wet snow. It was a WTF I'm wearing knickers and mid spring gloves and have only one extra layer in the Jandd kangaroo pouch.

After bombing 26 to Pine Swamp the snow stopped, the roads where clear, and the sun came out.  Climbing up into Bear Meadows onto some mountain bike trails back on to gravel roads I made it to the top of Bear Gap Road and watched a white out storm blow in.

The storm took this grey gravel road and left it with another 2-3" of giantic wet white flakes by the time I made it down the mountain. The elevation here is approximately 2000 feet the descent is back down to 800 over the course of several miles. Back at the bottom only dampened roads and spirits. Despite the snow, rain, gusting winds, and my poor attitude,  I still was able to make it out to Penn Roosevelt, Allen Segar, and Greenwood Furnace.

After getting this far I figured it was probably time to start heading home before the storm started heading east as it appeared to be blowing. I made my way out of Greenwood up Turkey Road towards the Martins Gap Area, another long relentless gravel climb that is as deceptive as the come with several quick switchbacks ending the climb at Allensville Road.

I eventually took Murray Run make to route 26 South headed into Huntingdon. The ride despite the weather was a absolute success. Chalking up just under 96 miles of gravel during the daylight in February was a much welcomed release from life at the shop and night riding day in and day out. I must say the stand out device of the ride aside from Shot Bloks and fresh bake goods was my new rear fender.

After despising fenders for years because of rattle and wobble issues on any fendered gravel/ mountain bike, I figured I'd craft something functional for this rides specific needs light fast and functional. Bits and pieces of several old take-offs left me with a sensible sized hardly noticeable spray killer.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

  • frozenfat delivered
    Frozenfat was our first go at a winter event. 
    Turned out to be a pretty good time. With around 25 riders representing five states showing up over the course of the weekend for the fatbike fun. Despite the long road to hosting the event with DCNR permits and other fancy forms of approval, the weekend flew by. 

    Friday night was the informal start of the saga with beers and several locals meeting up at the now infamous McMurtries Bar. Only to be followed by a raging fire with a fat bike fire ride. Yes over the 4x8' burning sheet of plywood. Fortunately, everyone rode away unscathed by the flames. Leaving only several holes in Jeffs new down jacket. John G. showed up early to get a in a full weekend of centralPa fun. 

    Despite the night time low of 8 degrees, Ellis was lacing up the fat front to his K Monkey around 1:30am Friday night.

    The Saturday am ride departed shortly after 10am with some 15 riders and 10 additional folks making up the support.  As was promised we began to have "much fun," right off the bat with some shale pit point and shoot. To fun watching riders come screaming down stuff like this. 
    Cold temps left downtubes coveedr in a thick ice coat and bottles frozen solid. John's Salsa Mukluk. 
    Bikes scattered across the trail at the top of the mountain waiting to be ridden back down. You'll notice Justin's fancy Surly Pugsley with a ultra fancy Shimano Alfine 8 IGH. Plenty of both QBP brands represented at this east coast gathering. No surprise with the recent availability of Fatback and 9:0:7 being so limited. 
    lots of winter fat. not a bad reason to spend the day outside with 20 of your closest fat friends. Yes the bike on the far right is a half and half with a fat front end and skinny rear. Funky but functional. Oh yes and it has a Hope rear hub that happened to hold up for the whole weekend. The Acera rear derailleur was not so fortunate. 

    Part Two to Follow Shortly---->