Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Rothrock in Autumn

The Mark Family enjoyed an amazing fall weekend in State College, PA. What started as a mt. bike weekend turned into a very nice family weekend. Martin Kell, our neighbor from Chambersburg, joined us for the trip. We drove to State College early Friday evening and had a nice dinner at Kelly's Steak & Seafood in Boalsburg with the Muckers and Aaron Hofelt. My sister, Daphne, kindly let us all stay at her house for the weekend. She and her husband, Mark, have three boys Eric, Matt, and Charlie so Thomas and Henry were happy to have kids to play with. Eric and Matt were playing in a football game Saturday; Eric had a soccer match on Sunday as well.Saturday morning we awoke to coffee, bacon, waffles, and fruit. After a quick breakfast, we headed out to the Tussey Mt. ride start (with a stop at Starbucks, of course). We had Mike & Brenda Mucker, Martin Kell, Aaron Hofelt, Eric Lensig (SP?), Kevin Bergman, Aaron Pontzer, John (LHORBA), Mike Steininger, and me (10 total).Aaron and Kevin put together a nice collection of Tussey classics including the uncleanable John Wert Path, the fearsome Wildcat, and the always beautiful Tussey Ridge and Croyle Trails. HO actually rode the big rock garden on Wert clean, but failed to get the entire trail - I mean PATH.
We logged 30 Rothrock miles on day one.
Including this nice log/rock bridge at the end of the extension - many of us rode it.
After test riding my singlespeed 29'er in Michaux, I realized that while the Mary bars it came with were fantastic for level singletrack and mild hills, they totally blew for long downhills where you had to stay on the brakes. A quick visit to Mt. Nittany Wheelworks and a discussion with avid singlespeeder, Harry, led to my swapping the Mary bars for a set of Easton XC70 monkey bars. The new bike:
Saturday evening we had a nice dinner with the Suchanec family, and my brother Nabil at Beula's B-B-Q in downtown State College then retired to Otto's for a very nice high octane Stout.
Some of my good friends were there: (Frank told me this means hello in State Collegese)
Sunday morning I awoke to my nephew Eric who said that my friends (Mike) thought we should get moving. Mike was concerned about making the 10am ride start. It was 8am! Michele and I were just wrestling with Henry anyway, so I got up and moving. Plans changed several times, but we finally got under way (with a stop at Starbucks, of course). This stop had Mike convinced that we were running late and that we should call the others. I was still positive that were would make it on time and held out (I had told everyone to expect me at 10:05 anyway). Long story short, we made it to the Tussey lot at 10:01. In my own discreet way, I tried to let Mike know that the stress and worry about being late for the last two hours was entirely unnecessary - he was a good sport. We rallied and drove a convoy of bikers over to the shale pit. At the shale pit we were greeted with some hunter types (no hunting on Sundays in PA) who were sighting in their high-powered rifles across the shale pit and over top of the parked cars. I trusted that they were good shots and parked - they kindly ceased firing until we left the area.

At this ride start in addition to Mike, Brenda, Martin, Aaron, myself, HO, Eric, Kevin, we were joined by Nabil, Don Andrews (saw him at Otto's), and the Perry County boys: Ray, Brian, Larry, and Keith (14). This would be my first long ride on the fully rigid SS 29'er.
Almost immediately out of the parking area, I took a wrong turn and climbed up Brush Ridge solo only to reconnect with the group near the deer fence. We then proceeded over to the Cooper's Gap area and rode (not in this order) Cranberry Ridge, Deer Tick, Shittaka, Chestnut Springs, Lingle, Brush Ridge (down), and much more.
Nabil shot some video:

Including shots of Martin and I returning from completely unsuccessful attempts at climbing the ridiculously steep shale pit. A couple of really nice rides in Rothrock in perfect weather with a great bunch of folks.

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