I’m beginning to think that this ride was not to happen. But before getting into it, I’ll list the plus’ of this trail being the scenic beauty and remoteness; and the minus’ as the terrain and access.
I had originally planned to take last Friday off from work and use half the day for this ride, thinking I’d go 25 miles or so. But my oldest son came down with a stomach virus on Thursday afternoon and spent Friday at home. So my day off was spent looking after him and cleaning the house. (He improved throughout the day and managed to play his baseball game that evening.)
I finally got a window on Sunday, but I had to be back that evening since we were having friends over. I loaded the bike on the car rack and took off. Unfortunately, I did not tighten down the front wheel skewer on the wheel rack enough and while blowing up 322, the skewer nut worked loose and bounced off the roof, never to be seen again. I blame it on the lawyer lips on the fork, which force you to unscrew the nut in addition to just flipping the skewer lock. When I got home, I promptly pulled out the dremel and made quick work of them.
Figuring that the ride was history, I decided to at least check out the trail since I had already driven over half an hour just to get to Dauphin. I thought the trail head was alot closer, but it turns out that its about 5 miles of winding paved road, followed by about 2 miles of pothole strewn dirt and stone road until it ends, and turns into the trail. (The road actually improves once it becomes the trail.) So after turning back once and then realizing that I just had not gone far enough, I found the trail, parked, got out and walked about half a mile.
While driving back out, I was concerned about some creaking noise on the roof, so I stopped when I got back on pavement to check things out. As I leaned over the roof, it suddenly struck me that the Thule roof trays that I use both have skewer locks, and that they could fit my bike. The first was the wrong thread size, but the one holding my bike fit perfectly. After a little bit of mix and match, I pulled yet another U-turn, and went back to the trail.
At this point, time was of the essence and I figured I only had a little over an hour to ride. The current trail appears to be an access route for maintenance and handicapped hunters using the State Game lands. If it was a railroad, it must have been for Shay logging engines because it was pretty remote. The first couple of miles are rough stone where it looks as if it routinely washes out in the spring. The trail runs along the base of a mountain with Stony Creek on the other side.
I think for most, a mountain bike would be appropriate. Fortunately the 37 Paselas ate up a lot of the bumps, but I would not have made it with a narrower tire. Eventually the trail smoothes out with crushed cinder and occasional bumpier sections. Also the grade doesn’t go much over 2% by my guess.
Almost the entire ride is under a canopy of foliage, reminding me of sections of Gunpowder Falls Park in Maryland, especially where the creek runs close. It’s truly beautiful. For a Sunday afternoon I saw perhaps a dozen other bikers, the majority being guys on mountain bikes carrying fishing poles. There were a pair of horseback riders, and on the way out I passed four high school age kids out for a run. Not much traffic due to the remoteness of getting there.
I went 8 miles in for 16 round trip. Because of my rush, I found myself getting more of a fitness ride than a “scenery” ride. I plan to go back and do the full 40 mile round trip later this summer.
Finally, I took a few shots with the Pocketcam. I learned that you can snap them easily while still riding with about a 50% chance of the autofocus getting a decent shot. I also learned that the driver was not properly installed on my laptop, which resulted in a memory error when I went to upload them, and wiped them all out. I should have just used the computer at home.
So next time I’ll clamp the wheel down properly, give myself more time to get there, carry a spare skewer in my toolbox, stop when I want to snap a picture, and test the driver before uploading the pictures.
Distance: 16 miles. Oh, and my bike is dirty!
As a quick update, my son has now had 5 at bats since changing things around, with five hits; either singles or doubles, and most of these at critical times. Interestingly, the “favored” hitters on his team are all in a slump because these teams are saving their best pitchers for them. They play again tonight, and my son intends to approach the coach and say that he deserves more playing time because his overall batting average is back up in the .400’s. He has also had some pretty impressive defensive plays. To his credit, he does not want to replace any teammates in the rotation. He just wants the rotation adjusted so everyone gets equal playing time. He’s a wise young man.