Posts Tagged With: bicycling

Monday Meander Volume I – VeeCee Trail on the Allegrippis

Yesterday was the first of what will be a series of outings for the staff of the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau called Monday Meanders. With the blessing of our board of directors (thank you) and the Army Corps of Engineers, from now through the middle of May, we will be closing the HCVB offices in the Raystown Lake Region Visitors Center at 3pm on Mondays.  The purpose of this early closure is to give our staff the opportunity to get out and experience the area, its recreational assets, and our member businesses, in order to better serve all of our customers.

With a year-round staff of four employees, we are each taking a turn during the month to plan the outing.  For our inaugural Meander, I took on the planning task.  Our missi0n: to experience a new trail leading from the Visitors Center to the Allegrippis Trailsstacked-loop system on mountain bikes.

The VeeCee Trail on the Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake

The VeeCee Trail connects the Raystown Lake Region Visitors Center in the Seven Points Recreation Area to the stacked-loop Allegrippis Trails.

First, some background:  The Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake opened with much fanfare in May, 2009.  The 32-mile trail network was designed by mountain bikers and built through the cooperation of the US Army Corps of Engineers, Appalachian Regional Commission, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and others.  The right-of-way for the trails on the USACE Raystown Lake property is leased by the Friends of Raystown Lake, a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to enhance the environmental and recreational resources of the lands and waters of the Raystown Lake Project.  The Friends contracted with the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) Trail Solutions crew to construct the trail network, and augmented the machine work with volunteers to put on the finishing touches.  The result is a fast, flowing, fun network of trails that can accommodate riders or hikers of nearly any ability level.  The trails were also constructed in a way that minimizes erosion.

Originally, trailhead parking lots were available along Seven Points Road, and Bakers Hollow Road.  Both trailheads were shared with the existing Old Loggers Trail.  It became evident immediately that additional parking capacity was needed.  The Corps approved a plan by the Friends to expand the lot along Bakers Hollow Road, and that helped, but still more parking was needed for a popular trail network that has exceeded all expectations of its ability to attract users.  The Friends proposed a few other options for expanding parking, but none of them met with the approval of the Corps until the idea emerged to connect the trails to existing parking at the Visitors Center.  This idea proved to be a win-win by connecting the developed part of the Seven Points Recreation Area with the trail network, and requiring minimal clearing of plant and animal habitat when compared to creating a new parking lot.

Fast-forward to May 2012.  The 1.3-mile VeeCee Trail opened with the financial support of the Friends, Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau, and Specialized.  The trail connects the lower parking lot at the Visitors Center with Dark Hollow Trail by following a path around the end of Seven Points Campground’s Ridge camping loop.

Now, back to yesterday’s  Meander…  Evan Gross from Rothrock Outfitters met us in the parking lot about 3pm with four Scott mountain bikes.  He took the time to adjust the bikes for us, pump the tires, and give us instructions for shifting gears and a few other helpful tips like making sure to put your outside pedal in the down position when negotiating a bend in the trail.  Why?  Because if the inside pedal is down as you lean into a turn, it is likely to catch the ground and cause an accident.  For some of us it was the first time on a bike since we were teenagers (we’re all in our thirties, forties or fifties).  We did a few laps around the parking lot to get comfortable with the bikes, shifting, braking, etc., before we crossed Seven Points Road to the trail.

We discussed a few tips we had learned from trail reviews, one of them being not to over-brake on the downhills, because you’ll want that momentum on the uphills.  Another tip being almost counter to the first one.  These trails will propel you faster than it may seem, and faster than you may be comfortable with – don’t let it get out of hand.  The result of these pieces of advice turned out to be that we over-braked on the way out, and wound up pushing the bikes up a few of the hills.  And at least twice on the return trip, I let momentum carry me out of my comfort zone resulting in some near-misses with trees.

In the end, we got to experience an asset that we talk to a lot of visitors about, nobody got hurt, and we all had fun.  Mission Complete!

Next week it’s Vickie’s turn to plan something for her and Katrina to do.  Ed and I both have the day off to head to a Pittsburgh Pirates game with our families.

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Welcome Trans-Sylvania Epic!

At about 10am this morning, some of the best mountain bike racers in the United States will be converging on the Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake for day four of the Trans-Sylvania Epic Mountain Bike Stage Race.  This event, in its third year, is a project of The Outdoor Experience Organization, and has become wildly popular in the off-road bicycle racing community.

If you are in the area this morning, and would like to see the action, spectators will be allowed to drive in to sites 1-8 at Susquehannock Campground to watch the race.  This is the area where the start-finish line will be, and will also be the midpoint of the 2-lap stage.  Two years ago following the Allegrippis stage of the TSE, one racer proclaimed “This was the most fun I’ve ever had racing on two wheels!”

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Bicycling and tourism months converge in the RLR

Through the forest via Allegrippis by Abram Eric Landes

Through the forest via Allegrippis Trails (Photo by Abram Eric Landes, http://aelandesphotography.com)

The month of May is both National Tourism Month, and National Bicycling Month.  The tourism industry and the bicycling community have formed a fantastic synergy in the Raystown Lake Region of the Alleghenies.  In 2009, the area opened its arms to mountain bike enthusiasts with the grand opening of the 32-mile Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake, a phenomenal addition to what was already a very popular biking destination for both on and off-road riders.

In the past year, the US Army Corps of Engineers has estimated that the Allegrippis Trails system has attracted over 26,000 visits.  Assuming that the trailhead visitation mirrors the normal visitor trends at Raystown Lake, it can be safely estimated that about 9,000 of these visitors travelled more than 50 miles to reach the trailhead along Baker’s Hollow Road, and combined spent a more than $1.3 Million while in Huntingdon County.

Dirt Rag DirtFest at Raystown Lake photo by Ed Stoddard

Dirt Rag Magazine brings it’s signature event, DirtFest to the Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake for its third year in a row. (photo by Ed Stoddard)

The weekend of May 18-20, 2012, more than 1,200 mountain bikers will be converging on the Huntingdon/ Hesston area for Dirt Rag magazine’s DirtFest.  This will mark the third year in a row that the magazine has chosen the Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake as the location for their signature event.

The following weekend, begins the Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race.  The seven-day race is based out of Seven Mountains Boy Scout Camp, and will follow routes through Bald Eagle and Rothrock State Forests, as well as remote starts in R.B. Winter State Park and on the Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake.  This event, also in its third year, will draw some of the top talent in mountain bike racing to our area for an entire week.

The Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau is asking any and all businesses in the area that have marquees to display a “Welcome Mountain Bikers” message for the weeks of May 15 through June 4.  We are also asking drivers to be extra-cautious on area roads, as we will expect to see an increase in bicycle traffic during this time.

The bicycling community has a strong track record of economically supporting the communities that are friendly to their sport.  Please join us in welcoming them to Huntingdon County, and inviting them back to ride again!

Sincerely,

Matt Price
Executive Director
Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau

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Bicycle Art Show to Feature Photography and Recycled Art

The Huntingdon County Arts Council will feature works of art relating to bicycles in April at its Art Space exhibit gallery in downtown Huntingdon. Photographer Abram Eric Landesof the Washington, D.C. area will be on hand with his sports photography, in particular action shots of bicyclist scaling various mountainous terrains, weather and obstacles that have propelled cycling into the realm of extreme sports. His work has been published in magazines, including Dirt Rag, Mountain Bike, and Bicycling Magazine.

Mountain bikers riding through abandoned railroad tunnel in Coburn, PA by Abram Eric Landes

Mountain bikers riding through abandoned railroad tunnel in Coburn, PA by Abram Eric Landes, aelandesphotography.com

A 2005 Penn State University graduate with a BFA in Printmaking with Honors, Landes maintains local ties with bicycle enthusiasts. “Whether the job ahead of me is a wedding, a mountain bike stage race, a family portrait session, or an architecture shoot, I enjoy it all and strive to make the best images possible. I do not settle for mediocre ideas or photos lacking in technical quality. I work my hardest to make sure your experience with me is positive and wonderful and that the products you receive in return are well worth your resources. Most of all, I enjoy meeting new people and seeing new places – and any day I work with a camera is a great day.”
Evan Gross, whose college days as an environmental science major with a secondary focus on art were spent at Juniata College in Huntingdon, will be the other featured artist in the exhibit. More recently, Gross is known as one of the faces at Rothrock Outfitters‘ bicycle department. An avid bicyclist, he enjoys the connection of lifestyle choices and the arts. Coming to full circle, he has been creating mobiles made of bicycle parts. “It’s all about revolution” Evan says, referring to gears, recycling, bicyclingand healthy living on a local level.
An artist reception is scheduled for the second Friday, April 13, 2012, from 6 to 9 pm.  The exhibit will be open to the public April 10-24, 2012. Open hours are Tuesdays 2 pm to 6 pm, Thursdays and Fridays 11 am to 6 pm, and Saturdays 11 am to 4 pm, and by appointment other days.
The Art Space is located at 212 Fourth Street, Huntingdon, PA 16652. Call (814) 643-6220 for more information.

The Huntingdon County Arts Council is dedicated to providing art and cultural opportunities in Huntingdon County. Our programs are designed to provide enjoyment and enrichment as well as educational and professional opportunities to the general public, students, amateur and professional artists.  The council’s website is: HuntingdonCountyArts.org.
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