After a week of very cold, dreary, wet, blustery weather, the forecast looked good for the weekend. Even the weatherman was calling for cool but nice weather. Could this be? Anything but rain would be fine! And so started the third annual Fall Allegany Rally for Tandems. This year we had 5 teams signed up, and another one to join us for the day on Saturday, for a total of two Fishers, one Trek, one Cannondale and two Ibisis or is it Ibii?....... both purple. With only five couples this year and three cabins, there was ample room in the cabins. We shared ours with a mouse, but he didn't bother us at all.
After picking up a birthday cake from the Dyes on our way down on Friday (so Chuck wouldn't see it), we got to the park very late Friday afternoon with Monica and Tim hot on our tail. It was a rather brisk day, despite lots of sunshine, and after checking in and getting parking permits, the guys promptly set about starting fires in the cabin stoves, and then the campfire outside. Now to await the arrival of the others. The first ones to arrive were the couple from Michigan Cheng and Siu (pronounced Shoe) They were relatively new to mountain biking, but thats ok, because this wasn't a mega miles, cover all the ground you can event. Remember, we ARE the Greater Rochester Eating and Tandeming Society! (GREATS). They settled into their cabin and joined us at the campfire.
The next to arrive around 9:30 pm were Fred and Gerry. They are also new to mountain biking and tandeming in general, having just bought their tandem this spring. Their MTB experience consists of mostlly rail trail riding, namely, the canal path and the Greenway. You really don't have to be an experienced off road rider to do this event.....you just need a tandem! They followed the same rountine of settling in and then sitting around the campfire to await the arrival of Bonnie and Chuck.
Around 10:30 pm, Chuck and Bonnie pulled in, completing the gang, and the waiting was over. After they unloaded the van, we sat by the fire til after midnight. We probably wouldn't have stayed up so late, but no one bothered to look at the clock. It was a very starry night (meaning not a cloud to be found), no wind and, you guessed it, very COLD! Too bad the fire in our cabin died before we went to bed. Too much good time at the campfire, and not enough tending the fire inside! What little fire we did have, Brian managed to get going again, although not as nice as it had been. Then when I got up a little later to hit the bathroom (you know how it is when you're cold), I added another log to the fire, but that move killed it in a hurry. Oops!
Saturday morning we woke to a very heavy frost, but as typical, with many fall days, the temperature quickly warmed and luckily stayed that way the rest of the weekend. I ventured out of our cabin to find Fred grinding coffee beans on his front porch. After breakfast, we loaded up the cars and headed to the Bova trail head to meet Dave and Karen, who were coming down from Toronto for the day. They called on Thursday night thinking it was a road ride! Wrong! A quick trip to the local bike shop to rent a MTB tandem solved that problem. The traditional group photo, (we nailed the first car that came by) and we were off! Three miles uphill to the summit! At mile one the jackets came off, at mile two, more layers, then at the top, the jackets went back on because it was cool and windy. We had a mix of sun and clouds, so the temerature was always changing, depending on where you were. A short detour over to stone tower for a view of the valleys, then on to the rest of the ski trails and lunch.
We picked a spot on the far end of Christian Hollow loop for lunch. There is a gap in the trees and a nice view of the valley (which one? who knows!, but it made a great lunch stop). The foliage was at its peak this weekend, and the colors were sensational! From there it was back to the cars, finishing the other loops on the way. Brian couldn't resist going down the ski hill with his new magura hydraulic brakes while everyone else went down the regular trail. I wanted to do the trail, but didn't have much choice, so down the ski slope we went. They call this the beginner slope, but it looked pretty intimidating to me! We had been down it before, so I knew we could do it. Been there, done that! so why do it again? Because of this move, we came up with 1 1/2 miles less than everyone else. That tells you something about the steepness of the hill!
Dave and Karen came back to the cabins with us for munchies before we went to the park restaurant for dinner. They went home from there (talk about a long day) while the rest of us went back to the cabins for dessert. They were invited to join us, but declined.......maybe next year!. Then as if we hadn't eaten enough (we only rode 18 miles that day), we helped Chuck eat his birthday cake, along with all the other goodies we had brought to share. The temperature was at least 10 if not 15 degrees warmer than the night before, but no one stayed up til midnight tonight.
Sunday morning dawned sunny and much warmer. There was Fred grinding coffee beans again, but at least his fingers weren't frozen. Siu and Cheng had shorts on! Some of the rest of us decided to wait til later in the day to don ours. What a contrast to the day before! Today would be a shorter ride. Cheng and Siu had a long drive back to Michigan, and some of the others wanted to leave early afternoon, so we only did 8 miles. The plan was to ride up to Thunder Rocks for lunch, then down the horse trail to the road, back up the hill to the intersection, then back down to the cars. So.....it didn't quite turn out that way. We got to Thunder Rocks a little early for lunch. It only took us 45 minutes to get there, a slight miscalculation. The horse trail was a little? wet in spots, but going well until we got the second gaspipe line where the trail turned right and started down the other side of the mountain from where we wanted to go. No problem, we would just follow the gas line left down the hill to the road and head back. After checking out the hill which made the ski hill look like a bump in the road, the decision was made to go back to the first gas line crossing and follow it back the OTHER way back to the Rocks. Chuck remembered seeing the gas line from the rocks. This turned out to be a wise move taking us back to square one (at least we knew where we were). We even met another cyclist out there who turned out to be one of the WNYMBA guys out for a ride. Where was he when we were lost?
Lunch was back at the cars, even though we carried it around with us all day. There were no injuries and all seemed to have a good time, some even said they would be back! Considering most had done very little off road riding, everyone did quite well. On the way home, we decided to follow Limestone Road (dirt). We never seem to be able to leave that park without doing some exploring on our way out. Anyway, according to the map, there was a gate at the end of the road, but it was open and took us where else, but into the little town of Limestone PA. I bet only the locals know of this unmanned entrance into the park. It's kind of off the beaten path and you probably can't count on it always being open. We definitely need to do more exploring! There are so many trails in there that could be rideable, but we don't know where they are, or have seen them, but don't know where they go. Anyone have any maps with horse/snowmobile trails on them?
Coming home, we played leap frog with Fred and Gerry. They were eating lunch (didn't we just eat before we left the park?) at the rest stop just outside of Cuba. Then while we were stopped at the rest stop near Geneseo, they passed us. (No, we didn't stop to eat, but we did order calzones for dinner when we got home!) We'll do it again next year for sure. We're working on getting better accomodations, (including real bathrooms!) so we can invite more people.