Serious Cycling For This Senior Who Hangs With A Younger Crowd.

Trails at Rothrock require some technical skills.
Credit: Pat McCloskey

Nothing like a road trip with 23 of your mountain biking friends to State College, Pa. aka “Happy Valley”.  Our merry band of warriors converged on the Hilton Garden Inn and prepared for three days of riding the challenging terrain of the Rothrock State Forest.  As one of two “senior riders”, I was a little hesitant seeing that it was early spring, and my conditioning was not quite there yet.  But as the first climbs of the first day ensued, it was eat or be eaten with this group of very accomplished riders.  Rothrock has many ride options for different skill levels including gentle fire road climbs, but it also has some of the most challenging terrain in the east.

Our first day was spent near the Tussey Mountain Ski Area with a climb that led to the Tussey Mountain Trail which gave us great vistas looking over “Happy Valley” and the remote mountainsides of Central Pennsylvania.  The rocks and boulders along the trail kept the full suspension bikes busy; most of the riders have gone with the new technology of mid-fat 3-inch wide tires with loads of suspension.  Many of the riders used fat bikes to help absorb the punishing grind of the rocky terrain.

Only two seniors in this group of mountain bikers for this early season rally.
Credit: Pat McCloskey

The second day was spent with our guide Craig Matthews, at the Coopers Gap area which is directly over the mountain from where we rode on Friday.  This area is remote, but the trails are superbly maintained by the local hiking and mountain bike clubs of the State College area.  One of the highlights of Day Two was the “Beautiful Trail” which lived up to its moniker with rhododendrons in bloom lining the relatively level ridge top terrain.

Our last day was back at the Tussey Trails with a side trip to Lemont, PA to hike Mt. Nittany.  A beautiful early morning hike that was welcomed by a smaller contingent of the group with a stop at the quaint and peaceful Café Lemont. Here you can rest on a relaxing outdoor patio or beautifully appointed living room with a freshly brewed coffee of your choice accompanied by homemade pastries and granola cereals.

As the “senior guy”, I made it through and am looking forward to another trip in October where the leaves will be ablaze and the Central Mountains of Pennsylvania will be vibrant with the fall colors.  Just have to maintain the fitness level for that one over the summer.

If you go, the Hilton Garden Inn in State College is very accommodating to mountain bikers.

Ride Support is available from two very good bike shops:

Freeze Thaw Cycles: Rentals and all mountain bike related clothing and accessories available.

The Bicycle Shop: Specialized dealer with rentals and all bike related clothing, and accessories.

Buy the Purple Lizard Map of the local trails.  Available at both shops.  And ask the shop guys for a ride or rides that fit your needs.

From the top of Mt. Nittany, Penn State’s namesake.
Credit: Pat McCloskey

One Comment

  1. Janet Lee says:

    Nothing like Happy Valley!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *