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Strasburg PA. Tips on Pennsylvania riding?

Old 09-16-16, 04:21 AM
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Strasburg PA. Tips on Pennsylvania riding?

Hey all. I'm planning to ride from NYC to Pennsylvania in late October most likely. Will be going from Philadelphia to Strasburg at some point on the trip. I've never ridden in Pennsylvania before and I am not sure what to expect. Anyone have any advice on what the roads will be like or the local attitude towards cyclists in general? Any route suggestion? I was planning on taking a route through Paoli, Thorndale, Parkesburg, and Gap as suggested on Google. Any advice is appreciated, thanks!
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Old 09-16-16, 08:26 AM
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Check out the Schuylkill River Trail Philadelphia to Valley forge. You can go from Philadelphia to Valley Forge on that trail with only being next to cars for about one mile. Paoli is about 10-ish miles south of VF. There is a review here from someone who describes the trail accurately from the VF to Philadelphia direction: https://www.traillink.com/trail-reviews/schuylkill-river-trail---valley-forge-to-philadelphia.aspx . After VF, the trail continues quite a bit, but I've never ridden on it.


From Philadelphia, there are restrooms behind the Art Museum at boathouse row, at the Norristown Train Center, and at Valley Forge Historical Park. You can easily find eateries along the way.


There are lots of bicycles around here and some drivers are considerate and some are pretty rude, so be careful! There are, also, a lot of bike lanes, so that helps a bit. There are LOTS of good bike shops around here (about one every 1/2 mile in any direction), less in the suburbs, but very good ones.


I live in Philadelphia, so let me know if you need any local information and I can help. I'm not a seasoned rider yet--I'm still a newbie-- but sometimes it helps to have a local connection.


Also, Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia https://bicyclecoalition.org/ and Bicycle Club of Philadelphia https://www.phillybikeclub.org/newbcp/ might be helpful.

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Old 09-19-16, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by smokeysurvival
I was planning on taking a route through Paoli, Thorndale, Parkesburg, and Gap as suggested on Google. Any advice is appreciated, thanks!

Sounds like U.S. 30. If so, don't do it. You won't have fun.


I'd go to the New Holland area and then head SW towards Strasburg via minor roads. I can give you a route from Philly to New Holland which I have ridden plenty of times. You just need to be prepared for hills. BTW...I would do it on a weekend day.
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Old 09-20-16, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
Sounds like U.S. 30. If so, don't do it. You won't have fun.


I'd go to the New Holland area and then head SW towards Strasburg via minor roads. I can give you a route from Philly to New Holland which I have ridden plenty of times. You just need to be prepared for hills. BTW...I would do it on a weekend day.
If indybabz has a good route out of the City to New Holland from there would be a piece of cake as there are many great back roads to get you to Strasburg. You could pretty much just go to Google Maps and route it for a bicycle using New Holland and your final destination. You would have one ridge you would have to get over at that point.

This would work https://goo.gl/maps/JLBcLPhzFBz
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Old 09-20-16, 11:07 PM
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I'll be going on a Monday.

Originally Posted by Paul J
If indybabz has a good route out of the City to New Holland from there would be a piece of cake as there are many great back roads to get you to Strasburg. You could pretty much just go to Google Maps and route it for a bicycle using New Holland and your final destination. You would have one ridge you would have to get over at that point.

This would work https://goo.gl/maps/JLBcLPhzFBz
Thanks this is very helpful! I'm going to be bringing a three speed (Raleigh tourist) so I won't be zooming along. Night riding in this area isn't smart idea I'm sure? Are covered bridges plentiful along these back roads? I'll probably spend the night in New Holland and make my way to Strasburg in the afternoon the next day. Google street view seems to show these back roads are pretty low traffic, would that be the case? Are motorists generally respectful ,of cyclists around there? I would assume they must be fine because of the Amish and their covered wagons? How are these two towns (New Holland and Strasburg), in regards to bike parking? Are there poles or racks around to lock to?
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Old 09-21-16, 02:59 AM
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Originally Posted by smokeysurvival
Hey all. I'm planning to ride from NYC to Pennsylvania in late October most likely. Will be going from Philadelphia to Strasburg at some point on the trip. I've never ridden in Pennsylvania before and I am not sure what to expect. Anyone have any advice on what the roads will be like or the local attitude towards cyclists in general? Any route suggestion? I was planning on taking a route through Paoli, Thorndale, Parkesburg, and Gap as suggested on Google. Any advice is appreciated, thanks!
I don't know the area either. Google will pick the most direct road that allows bikes. It's often far from the best choice.

I've been trying out Strava Route Builder. (requires a free login to use.)

It uses a year's worth of uploaded GPS recordings of bike rides, to choose the most popular biking roads. Strava makes a Heat Map of the data, showing popular biking roads. Click Toggle Labels to see the road and town names. Here's the eastern PA map. The URL changes as you zoom and pan, so you can bookmark that view.

For example, just clicking the center of Philadelphia and Strasburg, it made this route:
strava.com/routes/6584528

In the Route Builder, I clicked the Heat Map option on the side bar, to show the most popular roads in red, somewhat popular in blue. (There's many more rides near cities, so they will be colored in more.)

The route can be dragged to different roads. Or click on intermediate points that you want to visit, and build the route up in steps. I like to see the Heat Map colors so I can reroute if some other way looks good.

Strava Routes can have lots of turns, and would work better with a GPS for navigation. But you can print cue sheets too.

Here's a screen shot of the Create a Route screen. You can see there's other good alternatives to the selected route.
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Old 09-21-16, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by rm -rf

For example, just clicking the center of Philadelphia and Strasburg, it made this route:
strava.com/routes/6584528

PA 23 is not the best to ride on (can be lots of traffic), especially through Elverson, where the shoulder disappears. Earlier, the combined section of PA 113 and PA 23 is awful. Pughtown to Daisy Point to PA 23 is correct, but the much nicer way is to then leave PA 23 and take St. Peters to Harmonyville to Hopewell then PA 345 to Park and ride through French Creek S.P. After Morgantown, Red School to Valley View is much nicer than staying on PA 23 as it takes you though more of the Conestoga Valley. From Weaverland the route looks good.


I will try to draw the OP a map later this week.
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Old 09-21-16, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
PA 23 is not the best to ride on (can be lots of traffic), especially through Elverson, where the shoulder disappears. Earlier, the combined section of PA 113 and PA 23 is awful. Pughtown to Daisy Point to PA 23 is correct, but the much nicer way is to then leave PA 23 and take St. Peters to Harmonyville to Hopewell then PA 345 to Park and ride through French Creek S.P. After Morgantown, Red School to Valley View is much nicer than staying on PA 23 as it takes you though more of the Conestoga Valley. From Weaverland the route looks good.


I will try to draw the OP a map later this week.
Thanks for reviewing it.
It's interesting that Strava routed thorugh Elverson, when the more popular roads are a little north, at Harmony PA and Hopewell road. It's a complicated problem to find the "best" route, and not wander way out of the way. It looks like the Route Builder will often need some manual dragging of the route to an alternate road.

See the Heat Map screen shot of the Elverson area. The northerly Harmonyville-Pine Swamp roads are better than the Knauertown - Elverson road.
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Old 09-22-16, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by smokeysurvival
I'll be going on a Monday.



Thanks this is very helpful! I'm going to be bringing a three speed (Raleigh tourist) so I won't be zooming along. Night riding in this area isn't smart idea I'm sure? Are covered bridges plentiful along these back roads? I'll probably spend the night in New Holland and make my way to Strasburg in the afternoon the next day. Google street view seems to show these back roads are pretty low traffic, would that be the case? Are motorists generally respectful ,of cyclists around there? I would assume they must be fine because of the Amish and their covered wagons? How are these two towns (New Holland and Strasburg), in regards to bike parking? Are there poles or racks around to lock to?
Lancaster County is very Bike Friendly, the back roads are typically lower traffic. and yes the locals are very use to bikes and buggies. The wildcard are the tourists who do use the back roads but we ride our tandem all over the county and it is wonderful riding. We do have our share of hills which will be a challenge on a 3-speed. I have never thought about bike parking but you should be good for that we've just locked-up to whatever pole or fence was around. If you are talking about overnight I'd ask about inside parking with wherever you are staying. I worked in Elverson for many years and you do have some great roads to parallel rt 23. Going through French Creek park would be a great ride you do get into some of those hills. The speed limit on Rt 23 west of Morgantown drops to 40-45 and the shoulders are fairly wide so 23 is horrible through that section but with the great side roads that parallel 23 you can have quiet riding close by.
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Old 09-22-16, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by smokeysurvival
I'll be going on a Monday.



Thanks this is very helpful! I'm going to be bringing a three speed (Raleigh tourist) so I won't be zooming along. Night riding in this area isn't smart idea I'm sure? Are covered bridges plentiful along these back roads? I'll probably spend the night in New Holland and make my way to Strasburg in the afternoon the next day. Google street view seems to show these back roads are pretty low traffic, would that be the case? Are motorists generally respectful ,of cyclists around there? I would assume they must be fine because of the Amish and their covered wagons? How are these two towns (New Holland and Strasburg), in regards to bike parking? Are there poles or racks around to lock to?

Here is how I would get from the end of the paved portion of the SRT to New Holland:


https://ridewithgps.com/routes/16755780


There is one covered bridge--On Weaverland Rd. From PA 23 and Red School Rd. to where you cross U.S. 322 is the beautiful Conestoga Valley.


Don't ever recall seeing any accommodations in New Holland, which is nothing to see and which is very close to Strasburg anyway. There are some motels in Morgantown, including a couple on PA 10 on the above route. Strasburg has a good amount of traffic at times and is home to the PA Railroad Museum, and good ice cream:


A Lancaster County Ice Cream Destination and Bed and Breakfast / Inn, Strasburg Shoppes


On Paradise Lane, just north of PA 741 outside the center of Strasburg, there is a toy train museum:


Train Collectors Association?


Hope you are able to tackle some hills on a 3-speed.
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Old 09-22-16, 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul J
Lancaster County is very Bike Friendly, the back roads are typically lower traffic. and yes the locals are very use to bikes and buggies. The wildcard are the tourists who do use the back roads but we ride our tandem all over the county and it is wonderful riding. We do have our share of hills which will be a challenge on a 3-speed. I have never thought about bike parking but you should be good for that we've just locked-up to whatever pole or fence was around. If you are talking about overnight I'd ask about inside parking with wherever you are staying. I worked in Elverson for many years and you do have some great roads to parallel rt 23. Going through French Creek park would be a great ride you do get into some of those hills. The speed limit on Rt 23 west of Morgantown drops to 40-45 and the shoulders are fairly wide so 23 is horrible through that section but with the great side roads that parallel 23 you can have quiet riding close by.
Thanks for this! I will be staying at a comfort inn in New Holland then the Red Caboose Motel at the Strasburg railroad the next day. Hopefully I can park on the grounds or even just bring the bike inside. I definitely will be gearing this bike down. I live in Staten island (which means hills in NYC), so I'm familiar with 3 speed climbing. Hopefully I can handle it down there in Lancaster! I'm probably going to spend some time around the main town area of Strasburg and the surrounding areas as well. Looks like great riding.
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Old 09-22-16, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
Here is how I would get from the end of the paved portion of the SRT to New Holland:


https://ridewithgps.com/routes/16755780


There is one covered bridge--On Weaverland Rd. From PA 23 and Red School Rd. to where you cross U.S. 322 is the beautiful Conestoga Valley.


Don't ever recall seeing any accommodations in New Holland, which is nothing to see and which is very close to Strasburg anyway. There are some motels in Morgantown, including a couple on PA 10 on the above route. Strasburg has a good amount of traffic at times and is home to the PA Railroad Museum, and good ice cream:


A Lancaster County Ice Cream Destination and Bed and Breakfast / Inn, Strasburg Shoppes


On Paradise Lane, just north of PA 741 outside the center of Strasburg, there is a toy train museum:


Train Collectors Association?


Hope you are able to tackle some hills on a 3-speed.
Thank you! I'll check that route out in street view. I am planning on riding the Strasburg railroad and getting some good shots of it from the adjacent roads. I was already planning on going to the Pennsylvania railroad musuem and the model train museum as well! Thanks for the recommendation on the ice cream place.
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Old 09-23-16, 05:52 AM
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Originally Posted by smokeysurvival
Thank you! I'll check that route out in street view.
It's a sound route, and all of it might not be available on Street View. I have ridden the roads countless times during tours and as part of day rides. The covered bridge on Weaverland Rd.:
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Old 09-24-16, 08:24 PM
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Well all this information has been very helpful, thanks all! The Conestoga area looks great for photo ops and just general riding. I'm even more excited to take on this trip now.
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Old 10-06-16, 09:53 AM
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Any tips on possibly riding after dark? Is that possible at all? Google maps seems to show little to no street lights on most of the roads around the Strasburg and New Holland area. I'm sure a powerful headlamp and taillight are probably required but is this bad generally bad situation?
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Old 10-06-16, 10:28 AM
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You're not going to find street lighting. Many Amish and Mennonites have taken to adding extremely elaborate lighting systems to their buggies, including turn signals, because people often fly on the backroads at night. The last time I camped out that way I even saw a couple of buggies with lighting around the bottoms of the carriages. Personally, I would be very hesitant to ride through the country at night.
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Old 10-08-16, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
You're not going to find street lighting. Many Amish and Mennonites have taken to adding extremely elaborate lighting systems to their buggies, including turn signals, because people often fly on the backroads at night. The last time I camped out that way I even saw a couple of buggies with lighting around the bottoms of the carriages. Personally, I would be very hesitant to ride through the country at night.
Thanks! I'm hoping I make it to New Holland in time before dark but I will be bringing backup niterider tail lights and a strong headlamp just in case. The sun is setting earlier.
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Old 10-11-16, 07:13 PM
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There is nothing 'special' about riding in that general area at night relative to any other rural area. Use a powerful enough headlamp to see the road ahead at the speeds you typically ride and use redundant rear lighting (I do two tail lights and a big red reflector). At best you'll have moonlight to help you see and be seen but don't even count on that. Carry a small flashing headlight just in case your main one fails. And look out for deer. It is getting to be that season. I love night riding and wish I had an excuse to do it as much as I used to.
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Old 10-12-16, 04:35 AM
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Originally Posted by joejack951
There is nothing 'special' about riding in that general area at night relative to any other rural area. Use a powerful enough headlamp to see the road ahead at the speeds you typically ride and use redundant rear lighting (I do two tail lights and a big red reflector). At best you'll have moonlight to help you see and be seen but don't even count on that. Carry a small flashing headlight just in case your main one fails. And look out for deer. It is getting to be that season. I love night riding and wish I had an excuse to do it as much as I used to.
I've never ridden on country roads or in rural settings before.
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Old 10-12-16, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by smokeysurvival
I've never ridden on country roads or in rural settings before.

There are some different considerations in that area compared to rural riding in areas with straight, flat roads. There are some rural roads in that area with tight, 90 degree turns to avoid having roads bisect farm tracts. Visibility can be poor in places, and speeding drivers (often younger people) sometimes take the turns wide. I have seen people cross the double yellow during the day plenty of times. There are also some short, steep rises, some with tight turns, that have poor sight lines. Development in the county over the decades has increased the amount of traffic. Many of the have Amish left, and a far greater number of Mennonites are more car-reliant than in the past. (Just west of the intersection of Weaverland Rd. and PA 897/Weaverland Valley Rd. you will see an old Mennonite church with buggy stalls. Two decades ago buggies streamed in for services every Sunday. That church was replaced with a modern one with a large parking lot on the other side of the intersection.) You also have regular old folks living modern lives in more rural areas. They have to drive some distances for services and they can be less than safe and patient.
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Old 10-15-16, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
There are some different considerations in that area compared to rural riding in areas with straight, flat roads. There are some rural roads in that area with tight, 90 degree turns to avoid having roads bisect farm tracts. Visibility can be poor in places, and speeding drivers (often younger people) sometimes take the turns wide. I have seen people cross the double yellow during the day plenty of times. There are also some short, steep rises, some with tight turns, that have poor sight lines. Development in the county over the decades has increased the amount of traffic. Many of the have Amish left, and a far greater number of Mennonites are more car-reliant than in the past. (Just west of the intersection of Weaverland Rd. and PA 897/Weaverland Valley Rd. you will see an old Mennonite church with buggy stalls. Two decades ago buggies streamed in for services every Sunday. That church was replaced with a modern one with a large parking lot on the other side of the intersection.) You also have regular old folks living modern lives in more rural areas. They have to drive some distances for services and they can be less than safe and patient.
Crossing my fingers, I'll try to find that stable. Sounds very interesting. I'll be taking my Hercules as to save some weight for the hills. Thanks for all the help to all who wrote! I'll be departing on Monday and am taking septa to Thorndale on my way to New Holland to save a bit of time (as to not get stuck in the farms after dark), but l will ride the route you gave me on my way back to Philadelphia. I will update in another thread on either here (northeast) or in the the touring section. Supposed to go to the near 80's it seems and then back to the 60's again by the end of the week, hopefully the rain will hold off.
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Old 10-23-16, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by smokeysurvival
I'll be going on a Monday.



Thanks this is very helpful! I'm going to be bringing a three speed (Raleigh tourist) so I won't be zooming along. Night riding in this area isn't smart idea I'm sure? Are covered bridges plentiful along these back roads? I'll probably spend the night in New Holland and make my way to Strasburg in the afternoon the next day. Google street view seems to show these back roads are pretty low traffic, would that be the case? Are motorists generally respectful ,of cyclists around there? I would assume they must be fine because of the Amish and their covered wagons? How are these two towns (New Holland and Strasburg), in regards to bike parking? Are there poles or racks around to lock to?
US30 sucks in a truck/trailer I can't imagine doing it on a bike
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