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  1. #1
    Senior Member freemti's Avatar
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    ride around Pennsylvania

    what started as an idea to rent a car and drive to the western start point (or close to it) of the "S" route and cycle back to my home in SE PA (practically the entire route). Has now morphed into a Tour of PA (sic) using the S to the A to the Y to the L. Has anyone done this? I see that the S route is fairly popular, how about the other routes?
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    no one cares -holiday76's Avatar
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    Another Phoenixville person, cool!

    On a ride back from Chicago I covered the route from Butler Pa, around pittsburgh to latrobe, then to the southern tier of the state, sometimes on what I guess is the S route. Surprisingly enough a lot of it was on rt 30. It was a good time, but I can't say I'm in love with riding in western pa fully loaded. Some of those hills were truly killer but mostly the quality of the roads was just really really bad.

    I've also ridden down from Port Jervis to the Phoenixville/West Chester area on my way back from Montreal, and that was pretty nice. I don't remember exact roads but I don't think it was one of those state routes.

    I also motorcycle tour a good bit and I've been on rt 6 in the northern part of the state which I believe might be another one of those state bike routes. that looks like a very nice road to ride, nice wide shoulders, rolling hills and whatnot.

    Good luck on your tour. I'm headed out on a trip from Phoenixville to Tennessee and back a few months from now. BTW, did you know there is a new Phoenixville bike club? there was recently a yahoo group set up for it:

    http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group...irdBC/messages

    Maybe I'll see you around.

    -Brian

  3. #3
    Senior Member freemti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by -holiday76 View Post
    Another Phoenixville person, cool!
    ... BTW, did you know there is a new Phoenixville bike club? there was recently a yahoo group set up for it:

    http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group...irdBC/messages

    Maybe I'll see you around.

    -Brian
    Well, I do now! Duly noted and I've joined the group and there's a decent chance I'll make tomorrow's meeting.

    Thanks for the info on my proposed trip. I generally like to map my own routes and avoid even secondary main roads if at all possible if I don't have direct experience with the quality of the shoulders and traffic levels. but I was thinking that keeping to the official Bike PA routes would make navigation less of a chore and I could focus on keeping a decent pace and ergo keep my daily miles up. I'm a commuter too, so traffic per se does not concern me, but having cars whip past you doing 60+ even on a road with decent shoulders is no fun! The flip side being that the minor back roads often have no shoulders at all

    I would be traveling very light, with hotels/motels being the rule for overnight accommodations! I would plan on wearing alternate sets of bike gear - washing the backup set wherever handy. I'm a Speedplay guy so some sort of extra footwear would be needed, I'm looking at what would work for the little amount of regular walking around I would be doing - maybe some sort of high tech sandal? Light and foldable/packable?
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  4. #4
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by freemti View Post
    Well, I do now! Duly noted and I've joined the group and there's a decent chance I'll make tomorrow's meeting.

    Thanks for the info on my proposed trip. I generally like to map my own routes and avoid even secondary main roads if at all possible if I don't have direct experience with the quality of the shoulders and traffic levels. but I was thinking that keeping to the official Bike PA routes would make navigation less of a chore and I could focus on keeping a decent pace and ergo keep my daily miles up. I'm a commuter too, so traffic per se does not concern me, but having cars whip past you doing 60+ even on a road with decent shoulders is no fun! The flip side being that the minor back roads often have no shoulders at all

    I would be traveling very light, with hotels/motels being the rule for overnight accommodations! I would plan on wearing alternate sets of bike gear - washing the backup set wherever handy. I'm a Speedplay guy so some sort of extra footwear would be needed, I'm looking at what would work for the little amount of regular walking around I would be doing - maybe some sort of high tech sandal? Light and foldable/packable?
    Aren't Crocs now the 'standard' for bike tourists and riders? I can't use them for long, but for those folks with arches and working joints, they seem to fit the bill.

    As for the PA Bike Routes, I don't have much confidence in them. We both live near one that features next to no shoulder and cars wizzing past at 40+ MPH.

  5. #5
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by -holiday76 View Post
    Another Phoenixville person, cool!

    http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group...irdBC/messages

    Maybe I'll see you around.

    -Brian
    I signed up too. I suppose Kimberton counts as Phoenixville?

  6. #6
    Senior Member freemti's Avatar
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    My theory, albeit one with quite a few holes, is that as one gets deeper into Pennsylvania and away from the high density suburban traffic clusters, the S route and it's cousin's the Y, A & L routes will be more rideable. There are a couple of journals on Crazyguy by folks who have done the S route - they pointed to some issue s with traffic but only at a few specific areas.

    The other issues with plotting alternate routes is the number of even roughly parallel routes drops as you head into the hinterland and in some places the secondary main roads are pretty much it. I'd probably have to spring for a Garmin if I was to try going "freestyle" or take a wicked amount of maps with me.

    I'm still debating my plans....
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  7. #7
    Member hchbiker's Avatar
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    My understanding is that the state bike routes need to be on state roads despite the fact that there may be better routing on more local roads. I too believe that Pa route Y follows route 6 for a time.
    I hope you will report back on what you find.

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    Ive ridden on Rt 6. I crossed into PA south of Corning, NY and took 6 to Wilkes Barre then cycled south through the Poconos into Doylestown. It wasn't a bad ride trafficwise and quite scenic. Sorry Im not really remembering the exact route I took. I had some sort of freebie PA tourism map that worked quite well. I stayed in motels along the way and had no problems finding accommodation. Happy Trails!

  9. #9
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    I dream of doing Pa route Y - Rt 6 across north Pa.
    The pictures of the area look great. The Rt 6 tourist bureau has a nice web site. I'm sure the traffic would be light up there.

    I know that S (RT 30) can be bad near Gettysburg, Chambersburg and Lancaster (at least near the cities). If I were going to ride any congested area I would first contact a local bike club for suggestions. The Lancaster Bicycle Club has helped me in the past.

    I live near route J in Dauphin County. I've cycled parts of J near me. It's OK but not the best bike route - there are other (less direct, more scenic, smaller roads).
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  10. #10
    Senior Member sykerocker's Avatar
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    You need advice between Breezewood and Pittsburgh, drop me a line. I'm an old Johnstown boy, lived there most of my life and definitely know the back roads pretty well.

    And no, there's no easy way to get between Gettysburg and Ligonier - the mountains are a flat out *****. Back in the 70's, when I went to school in Erie, I used to come home on weekends just to put in major miles hillclimbing.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member freemti's Avatar
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    I've decided not to be a slave to any particular route, but to use it where its the obvious best choice quality wise or its the only practical choice to get from a to b. The other factor changing my route is to take in some specific sight and/or locations that are not on any of the routes in question. One area of difficulty is my desire to visit Johnstown, Mt Davis (highest point in PA) and Fallingwater, which if you look at a map (and the topology, OMG the topology) are not located in a way that makes for a simple East-West trip. Putting on some extra miles is OK, although I'd prefer to keep the multiple 3,000 ft ascents to a reasonable number!

    I am still pouring over my maps and researching possible routes and sites I want to visit.... Prelim start date in mid May at this point.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member freemti's Avatar
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    I recently purchased the TOPO mapping software for PA (and NJ) and am looking at some of hills/mountains on some of my proposed routes - I am not from a flat area of PA myself, but I have to admit that depending on where you are headed, we're talking some serious hillage, serious hillage indeed...
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  13. #13
    Senior Member john hawrylak's Avatar
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    The only "flat" areas I know in Pa. is west Meadville, in the north west. I grew up in Pittsburgh. Pa is not only hilly, but the roads tend to have steep sections.

  14. #14
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by freemti View Post
    I've decided not to be a slave to any particular route, but to use it where its the obvious best choice quality wise or its the only practical choice to get from a to b. The other factor changing my route is to take in some specific sight and/or locations that are not on any of the routes in question. One area of difficulty is my desire to visit Johnstown, Mt Davis (highest point in PA) and Fallingwater, which if you look at a map (and the topology, OMG the topology) are not located in a way that makes for a simple East-West trip. Putting on some extra miles is OK, although I'd prefer to keep the multiple 3,000 ft ascents to a reasonable number!

    I am still pouring over my maps and researching possible routes and sites I want to visit.... Prelim start date in mid May at this point.
    Consider bike trails as well. The Great Allegheny Passage passes by Fallingwater, for instance, and you could follow it for 60 miles towards Pittsburgh. Also, the trail runs around Pittsburgh to Coreapolis.

  15. #15
    Senior Member freemti's Avatar
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    Not being a "croc person" I didn't realize how light they are - I was in EMS yesterday and tried a pair. Assuming I stay with my speedplays (not a done deal btw), they well may make a good street shoe alternative versus other options. I could bungee them on top of my rack since they are basically weather proof - they'd be easily accessible without rooting around in my panniers

    I'm also thinking about Frogs which would allow me to go recessed with MTB style shoes. Even SPD MTB shoes are in the running, although I'm hesitant to try a new solution after so long using my speedplays, a couple of hundred miles into my trip is not the time to find out I hate whatever new solution I try
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  16. #16
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by freemti View Post
    I am still pouring over my maps and researching possible routes and sites I want to visit.... Prelim start date in mid May at this point.
    I envy you.
    Keep us posted.
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  17. #17
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    The S route goes down some pretty busy roads as it passes through Lancaster (PA-462, PA-340). There are definitely less direct but more pleasant routes to get across the county.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeR View Post
    I dream of doing Pa route Y - Rt 6 across north Pa. The pictures of the area look great. The Rt 6 tourist bureau has a nice web site. I'm sure the traffic would be light up there.
    Actually, a few fdriends of mine rode the U.S. 6 corridor a few years ago. They experienced heavy truck traffic in certain parts thanks to fracking activity.

    OP: Someone mentioned Port Jervis south. I have done Port Jervis to Philly via the NJ side of the Delaware Water Gap Nat'l Recreation Area this spring and last. It's divine. This year I took a detour to the Lakota Wolf Preserve near Columbia, NJ. These photos were taken between Matamoras, PA and Milford, NJ:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/davez20...7633368316419/

    I highly advise not riding the PA side (U.S. 209). Traffic can get crazy the closer you get to E. Stroudsburg, and it's not nearly as scenic as the NJ route to Delaware Water Gap, PA. Send me a PM if would like route details, including some on lodging since you don't camp.

    On Friday I will be driving a one-way rental to PGH to start the GAP the next day. At Cumberland, I will take U.S. 220 to Bedford, where I will camp outside of town near the Cannondale headquarters on Day 3. From there, I will follow a modified PA Bike Route S, with one detour being over the abandoed section of the PA Turnpike between Breezewood and Pump Station Rd. near Hustontown. Other camping locations will be Cowan's Gap S.P. Dover, PA and Frech Creek S.P. From Frech Creek I will make my way to the SRT and then onto my house near the Art Museum.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    I highly advise not riding the PA side (U.S. 209). Traffic can get crazy the closer you get to E. Stroudsburg, and it's not nearly as scenic as the NJ route to Delaware Water Gap, PA. Send me a PM if would like route details, including some on lodging since you don't camp.
    I had just the opposite experience last year. I rode from DWG to Matamoras and had little to no traffic going up 209. It must be the time of year and day of week that you are on the road as to whether or not you have to deal with traffic.

    I will suggest US6 through Alleghany National Forest. You do have to climb, west to east is a very consistent climb. Once you start up it you just keep going at the same grade pretty much until you hit the top. None of this bouncing around with easier and harder grades, its consistent. It's a real nice climb. I was kinda dreading given the way to the day had went thus far and it ended up being the best part of the day by way far, rode from Meadville to Olean, NY that day. Some nice scenic areas around the lakes as well before you start up the climb. I've ridden most of northern PA now, just three or four counties up at the north end that I haven't been in so far on the bike, hopefully that will be taken care in the next week or two as I'm hoping to be leaving out tomorrow or Thursday to finish off all the northern NY counties and the rest of the counties in northern PA that I haven't been in yet on the bike.

    I would have to say the most scenic part of PA I've seen thus far has been US6/Alleghany National Forest or PA443 SW to NE is another nice ride. It has the unique appearance that you are both in the flat farmland as well as in the mountains.

    Like I said I haven't been in all of PA YET, but I have been on the bike in a fair share thus far given I've only been in PA on the bike twice...either going to or coming back from Ohio.

  20. #20
    Randomhead
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    209 has a lot of commuter traffic, not sure how you avoid that. And on weekends, there are lots of people there for the park. The NJ side is really nice at least as far as Frenchtown.

    I can't imagine riding all of Bike Route S, the parts I have ridden were bad enough. Again, it depends on what time of day you are on it, but I have been on it at very bad times.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil_B View Post
    Consider bike trails as well. The Great Allegheny Passage passes by Fallingwater, for instance, and you could follow it for 60 miles towards Pittsburgh. Also, the trail runs around Pittsburgh to Coreapolis.
    Yup. Also worth noting that you should make a reservation for a Fallingwater tour. They were sold out for the day when we went in August.

  22. #22
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    Question, please, for those who have biked around PA quite a bit. I am planning a trip from North Carolina up to the Buffalo NY area this Fall, & PA will likely be the major challenge of the entire trip. I'm quite a bit older now, age 50, than I was when I did my last major tour. So, I was wondering if you could suggest a safe route, without too many killer hills, from Gettysburg or Harrisburg (I'm flexible there) up to the Olean NY or Salamanca NY areas. Once I cross into NY I'm very familiar with the routes.
    Thanks in advance for your consideration.

  23. #23
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Lookup the Allegheny River Trail. It is not that long and fairly circuitous but a great ride. They are adding to it more an more as time goes on. It heads toward Erie a bit West of where you want to go.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

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  24. #24
    Senior Member dwmckee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hartlean View Post
    Question, please, for those who have biked around PA quite a bit. I am planning a trip from North Carolina up to the Buffalo NY area this Fall, & PA will likely be the major challenge of the entire trip. I'm quite a bit older now, age 50, than I was when I did my last major tour. So, I was wondering if you could suggest a safe route, without too many killer hills, from Gettysburg or Harrisburg (I'm flexible there) up to the Olean NY or Salamanca NY areas. Once I cross into NY I'm very familiar with the routes.
    Thanks in advance for your consideration.

    I cannot give you much route advice unfortunately, but I can tell you that what ever the route you will not be able to avoid PA's endless rolling hills. Traveling north/south is not as bad as traveling east/west, but still you will have seemingly endless hills.

    There are a couple of general rules about PA hills -
    (1) you can never guess how long the hill will be from the bottom looking up because there are so many bends that you cannot see more than a hundred yards.
    (2) the hills get steeper as you approach the top
    (3) what looks like the top is never the top, just a big bend and more hill
    (4) every big downhill has a busy intersection at the bottom so you cannot use your momentum to start up the next hill
    (5) you will have to use your brakes a lot going down because the turns are sharp and you cannot see very far ahead for safety
    (6) the downhill side always seems a lot shorter than the uphill side
    (7) there are potholes and poor shoulders everywhere in PA
    (8) PA is a real pretty state though!

    Enjoy your trip!

  25. #25
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    Thank you, dwmckee from Pittsburgh. Seems, then, that when planning the route I should focus on avoiding traffic rather than looking for any flat roads. Good to know.

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