News Updates And Latest Blog Entries

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Month of Mud #3 Grove City Community Park

Month of Mud #3, Grove City Community Park was 100% cross-bike territory. The race was a combination of park road black top, park lawn routes designated with plastic ribbon, and a short section of jeep trail double track. The race was fast paced and no one was letting up. It featured one major climb that was certainly middle ring territory if you put forth some effort; but I witnessed many tired sport class riders pushing or climbing in their granny. The race featured at least one run up near the start, this was after the course left the black top. There were also a couple of barriers in the lawn section. This race also included a short feature lap at the start of the race around the park's asphalt that allowed the field to spread apart before the course entered into the more confined run up section. The feature lap was greatly appreciated. This is something a few mountain bike races I know could stand to include to spread out the racers before the entire field piled into a tight single track jam up.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bavington, Month of Mud #2

Had great time at the Bavington mountain bike time trials. This year's course was changed to add more single track and eliminate the long stretch of road that took you back to the race start area. Here was the course layout: The course started in it's usually place, in the parking area at the intersection of Haul Road and Five Points extension but this year the race ended where the trail comes out across the street. Here's what was different; As you followed the loop clockwise near the top of the loop the trail was diverted. Instead of going out onto Haul road the trail was re-routed taking you a little further North leaving you out in the field at the Kramer and Haul Road intersection. For a short piece the course continued down Kramer towards the rc airport and took a right up the double track. Soon after you were back into the woods on single track. This time when the course emptied out onto Haul, instead of heading back towards the start you took the trail off to your left that is just a few yards down; Forcing you to carrying your bike and scale up the steep, steep section. This added probably another mile and a half of single track to the course. Overall the course was a fast eight miles with most riders finishing well under an hour.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Mammoth, Month of Mud Race #1

The Month Mud Race series kicked off on Sunday in Mammoth, Pennsylvania. The course was set up on a hillside in the park lawns underneath the trees. It was full of sharp turns as it cut up and down the hillside, great course, it was a ton of fun. Navigating hair pins in wet grass required some mad skillz. It was akin to a Mountain Bike downhill but in your middle middle ring; it was a blast. No doubt those guys sporting the skinny little tires on the cross bikes were having a tough time of it. I did not regret riding a fat tire at all. A question I never got answered, are you required to get off your bike to cross the orange obstacles they set up? Call me lazy but my bike is heavy, I up and overed them like a big fat log. I wasn't carrying it if I didn't have to.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Harisson Hills Park

Last month I did a little exploring, mountain biking Harisson Hills Park and put together a nice little ride:

Harrison Hills Park sits above the Allegheny River between Freeport and Natrona Heights with
it's main entrance along Freeport road.

Harrison Hills is a great place for beginners. There are many well maintained and groomed trails throughout the park that don't involve a lot of climbing. I'd like to put together a good beginner/novice loop but this ride was geared more towards bikers with at least a little riding experience under their belt.

There are a ton of trails in the park and they constantly intersect and intertwine which can be confusing but the trails are extremely well marked and the Friends of Harrison Hills Web Site provides this terrific map. [Link to the map]

We based our ride on the Boy Scout Trail. This trail is a five mile loop that follows the outer edge of the park. This is an outline of our route:

The route we took is outlined in green. Use this along side the original map to see the color coding.

We took part of the the Boy Scout loop and avoided the really steep section of the trail. The Boy Scout Trail contains some sections that are more challenging than other trails in the park. It's more geared for the intermediate rider but is also a great place for a novice who is looking for some challenge but still wants a fun ride. Challenges include some short quick climbs requiring momentum, a couple of longer more moderate climbs and steep sections, and a section of tight windy single track with some off cambers, logs, rocks and roots.

The Boy Scout Loop and Pink Trail

Take the main entrance into the park. At the first intersection take a right (uphill) this is Woodchuck Drive. If you go down a steep long hill you've taken the wrong road.

There will be paved parking spaces on the right and left of the road. A few yards down the road and to your left is the Baneberry Grove pavilion. The trail head is off to your right. Pull into a space and get ready to cycle.

If you pull into a space on the right hand side the boy scout trail will be up and to the right of the open area. The Boy Scout Trail is is demarcated throughout with red vertical rectangles and there is also a sign along this road marking it. The ride begins taking the Boy Scout loop counter clockwise around the park.

Begin your ride through some wooded single track after a half mile the trail will eventually lead into a field. The trail will go down across the field and you will come to a T. Make a left towards the pond. Follow along the pond and make a left around the end of the pond. At the corner of the pond there will be a track straight a head and one off to the right. Take the trail off to the right up over the steep climb.

After a short wooded piece you will emerge into a wide open area with a baseball and soccer field. Follow the trail to left and travel up around the baseball field. Travel across the lawn area and angle down and to your right across the lawn crossing the gravel road and heading counter clockwise around the soccer field. You might spy some of the red triangles that mark the boy scout trail.

As you cross the gravel road and head down around the soccer field you'll want to cross the lawn area and find the trail again as it travels through the field.

The trail goes through the uncut field below the soccer field and leads you into some single track.

This is classic single track with tight windy turns, roots, rocks and off cambers. For me it was the favorite part of this ride.

Eventually the trail will lead you to the closed area. A large white sign will read Keep Out Dangerous Area (or something to that effect). Though you'll see on your map the Boy Scout Trails travels through this section, you'll probably want to detour this because the trail looks overgrown and unmaintained.

After you make a left at the danger sign start looking for a trail off to your right that crosses a small valley and stream.

Head out across the lawn toward the observatory. Here at the observatory you get a relatively uninteresting view of the homes and golf courses that make up River Forest. This might be interesting if you were a golfer but being that you are out here mountain biking, you are probably not a golfer.

However much more impressive and more likely to hold your attention is the precipice your standing over and the knifes edge trail leading along the ridge line. This is where you pick back up the detoured Boy Scout Trail. Continuing: after cutting across the lawn area and reaching the observatory you make a left on the boy scout trail and follow the ridge line trail upriver along the cliffs. Do take caution!
Other trails will join this trail and branch off just keep right and follow the trail along the edge of the cliffs.
After a few hundred yards of following the ridge you will come to a very steep long downhill where a stream valley, the river valley and the corner of a field all intersect.

We decided to detour this steep section. I was with my girlfriend and she would not be happy pushing her bike out of this hole. Looking at the map there may be a reasonable trail that follows the contours up out of the stream valley but I'll leave exploring that to another ride.

Instead of heading down go to the fields edge and follow the trail right. This is a section of the Wetlands Trail and it's marked with the color green.

The trail goes along the edge of the field along the woods line and heads into the woods bordering along the field. A trail will branch off down to the right, keep left. The trail leads up and then out of the woods and down across the field. The trail will cross a gravel road. Make a left onto the gravel road.

Travel on this road past the construction area. This will lead to a barn looking structure which is the park office at this convergence the road turns to blacktop.

At the park office building head across the lawn off to your left and find the trail head for the pink trail. This is the 'Flag Staff Hill Trail' and is demarcated with pink rectangles. It is marked purple on the park trail map.

At this point the pink trail is a relatively fast double track along a ridge line and takes you back towards the observatory.

After traveling along the ridge line for a while the trail will quickly plummet down over a hill. Before the bottom of the hill make the sharp right and follow the the pink trail markers. If you end up at an open lawn area at the observatory you've gone just a little too far.

After the trail makes the sharp right, it heads across the paved road and runs up a valley between the stream and the road.

After running up the stream valley for a time the pink trail runs back across the road where it meets up with the green 'Wetlands Trail'.

As the trail heads up the valley you'll come to blacktop. You are actually just downhill from the park office. Make a left onto the blacktop you'll see a parking area on your left. After a couple hundred feet you'll come to an intersection. Make a right on the blacktop heading up a steep climb.

At the top of the climb you are near the park entrance. Hang a left at the intersection and this road will take you back to your car.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Month of Mud Schedule Is Out

I know I'm a couple weeks late on this one but I just found out. The Month of Mud 2007 Schedule is out! [Month of Mud Flyer]

Month of Mud is a tough, rough and muddy series of mountain bike and cyclocross races held at various venues in Western Pennsylvania.
  • Sunday September 16th
    Mammoth Park, Mammoth PA
  • Sunday September 23rd
    Bavington State Game Lands (Hillman State Park), Bavington, PA
  • Sunday September 30th
    Grove City Community Park, Grove City, PA
  • Sunday October 7th
    Brady's Run County Park, Beaver Falls, PA
  • Sunday October 14th
    Moraine State Park, Pottersville, PA

Map and directions to all of the race venues

View Larger Map

The Latest From Local Mtb Sites and Blogs