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Heritage Explorer Bike Tour: Celebrating Rails-to-Trails

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Yesterday was an enjoyable 50 mile ride heading "south" of the NY / PA border for a stretch of rail-to-trails extending northward through little burgs above Scranton, PA. We followed the Delaware and Hudson Rail-Trail (packed gravel surface) through Carbondale into the Endless Mountains to Union Dale.

From their web page www.lhva.org/biketour.ht

"Join us for the 2nd Annual Heritage Explorer Bike Tour on Saturday, June 18, 2011, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Mellow Park in Peckville, PA. Hosted by the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority (LHVA), the Bike Tour is a non-competitive, family-friendly event with something for every rider. Last year, more than 300 people of all ages participated in the inaugural event."

I think they topped 500 riders this year! What a wonderful thing to see so many volunteers out there helping to put this event together and showing so much pride in what their community has been able to accomplish!

Figuring that parking at the event might be tough and ALSO wanting to add a few more miles to the 44 mile event I left the van at the hotel and rode my bike up to Peckville. 50 miles has a MUCH better ring to it than 44...lol! Fortunately my DW happens to know an old friend who lives in the area and they were able to take off and visit with each other while I rode.

Here is a rough map of the 44 mile round trip we rode: goo.gl/maps/81V6 There was probably around 50 of us from my bike club who traveled down for the event. I caught up with a fellow member (another Don! :-) ) and we hung with each other for the most part with very complimentary pacing to our rides:

At various points I could hear the Lackawana River rushing alongside the trail so I would hop off the bike and wander off the trail so I could treat myself to hidden nooks of nature such as these:

The weather was picture-perfect with mid-80s, lots of sunshine and many rest stops with ice cold water, apples and oranges. The volunteers at the upper end of the route in Union Dale were particularly enthusiastic and took such pride in their rail-to-trail. One gal spoke of how they have to fight off the four-wheelers who try to take over the trail which is clearly marked with signs of "no motorized vehicles allowed." The four-wheelers have such a cocky sense of entitlement and attitude! At many points of the trail there are gates designed to be narrow enough to allow walkers & cyclists but blocking larger motorized ATVs & four-wheelers.

Challenges of the ride? Being off-road! I'm a pavement kinda guy...lol! Now I have little difficulty with hard-packed dirt with some crushed stone, but there were stretches of rocky trail which had me beside myself navigating the path of least bone-rattling resistance...whew! Slowed me down CONSIDERABLY! Technically, my ride is a cyclocross (Specialized Tricross) which is designed to handle mud & dirt, but there is no suspension as many mountain bikes have. I have a little more width and grip to my tires though, for which I was grateful yesterday! I don't wear gloves when I ride. My hands never complain and I figure one less thing I have to remember to take which would probably only make me feel the heat even more! But I have to say: Yesterday for the first time my hands were sore after that ride!

There were stretches of the trail with large puddles spanning the width of the trail, causing one to oh-so-carefully skirt around the edges of the puddle hoping not to slide or topple into them!

At times the crushed stone was loose enough that my tires would do some scooting around to keep 'er moving! Made me MUCH appreciate being back on pavement! :-)

Here's a few of us cyclists at the end of the line in Union Dale taking a break:

And the old mill behind the market in Union Dale:

A few more pics along the way:

All in all, a most satisfying ride!


PS...forgot to update my total miles for the season so far: 588!
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