What the leaves lacked in color we made up for in temperatures. Other than everything was still pretty green, we could not have asked for a better weekend! Five teams joined us for the 4th annual off road tandem rally, and two more rode with us for the day on Saturday.
This year was like being in a five star hotel compared to the last three years, (especially the first year when we tented!) We rented Camp Allegany at the park which provided us not only with barracks style lodging with real indoor bathrooms just down the hallway, but the mess hall next door with a fully equipped kitchen! For some of us, it's the little things! Because there were so few of us, everyone could have their own room. As usual, Brian and I arrived early (3pm) to pick up the keys for the camp. As we neared the driveway, Rich and Lindy were heading out for a ride, having gotten there before us. The next folks to arrive weren't due until around 8pm, so the four of us took off for a short 5 mile ride on the bike path around Red House Lake. I had intended to roller blade on it, but no one else brought their skates.
Back at the camp, a tandem rolled in, but it wasn't anyone we recognized. It turned out to be Dave and Patty, a couple from PA who called earlier in the week and said they might join us. They were camping just down the road and said they would meet us at the trail head in the morning. Super! Once the sun started to set, it began to cool down fast, so we retreated to the mess hall. This must mean it was time to think about dinner! It was a real joy to fix dinner indoors. For those of us who attended previous rallies, you know that it's not much fun walking 3 cabins down for water in the rain, and then having to wash dishes outdoors.
Once the sun set and the wind died down, it made for a very enjoyable night to sit around the campfire and wait for the rest of the gang. The first to arrive were Jackie and Robin, followed not to far behind by Chen and Siu (pronounced Shoe) who came from Michigan for their second consecutive year! About one half hour later, we heard a rumbling noise coming down the dirt road which turned out to be Anthony and Lorriane pulling a trailer with their bike and gear stashed on it. Now the group was complete.
We thought we were settling in for a great nights sleep for the day ahead. WRONG! Just after crawling into sleeping bags, we were awakened by BEEP, BEEP, then a pause and about 2 minutes later BEEP, BEEP. This kept on for some time. One of the smoke alarm batteries was dying, but which one? I went out into the hall and stood, but of course not a sound. After I crawled back into bed it started again. This time it was someone elses turn to figure it out! Finally, I heard a door open and when the sound went off again, heard furniture moving, followed by nothing but quiet. We found out in the morning that Anthony had gone out in the hall and spent about 45 minutes waiting for the beeps, (guess I slept through some of them), then closed doors to the empty rooms until he found the offending smoke alarm and took out the battery. Thank you Anthony!
The morning ride was to start at Bova trail head which was just down the road from the camp. As we were getting ready after breakfast, a camper pulled in and it was Debbie and Mike, another couple who had called to say they might joins us. WOW! Seven teams. This was our largest group ever!
Let's roll! Except that as we were leaving the camp, we heard a clunk sound to discover Chen and Siu had broken a chain! We weren't even out of the driveway yet, I hope this wasn't an omen. Brian and I rode up to the trail head to let Dave and Patty know ther others would be a while. It's a good thing we did, because they were up there riding around in circles wondering if we had gone off without them.
Finally, twenty minutes later, and after group pictures, we were off. Three miles to the top. It was a bit chilly and foggy, but as the fog burned off, there was not a cloud in the sky the rest of the day. About half way up, we stopped to take off jackets. After reaching the summit, we rode over to Stone Tower for a great view of the hills. Last year, the foliage was at or near peak, but this year we were about 2 weeks early. Still a great view! Even though it was only 11:30, everyone was ready for lunch, the only problem here was that this wasn't the planned lunch stop. I suppose we could have had an unplanned lunch stop! Onward.
Now for a bit of rollercoaster stuff before lunch. Around this bend.... a break in the trees. This is it. Stop! LUNCH! The view from our lunch stop was partly blocked from the leaves still on the trees. No one complained, we ate anyway. Unfortunately Bonnie and Chuck couldn't join us this year, so there was no wine for lunch....matybe next year. More rollercoaster stuff after lunch, another broken chain, this time from Rich and Lindy, then it was downhill to the camp. Three of us opted to traverse the ski slope down while the others took the 1 1/2 mile trail. Then someone gets the bright idea that if we can come down it, let's go back up. NO GO! The ground was just to soft and we kept losing traction and spinning, even after we let more air out of the tires. Because we were in the woods all day, it was surprising when we finally came out to find out how warm it had gotten. Eighteen miles in five hours....but we had fun!
After showers, the munchies appeared, followed by dinner and eventually replaced by dessert. We had a huge pile of firewood to burn, good thing it was a nice night for a campfire. We had invited the other 2 couples back to the camp for dinner, but only one of them showed up and they had already eaten. Folks started turning in a lot earlier tonight than the first night. (interesting how that always seems to happen)
Sunday morning was warmer than the day before, but much cloudier. Anthony and Lorraine decided to hike instead, so we said goodbye and headed out to some horse trails down the road. Today would be a shorter day.... 10 miles. Unfortunately, the trail we picked was a very steep up, and had a lot of loose gravel which made for very difficult riding. Robin, Jackie, Rich and Lindy bailed out to meet us at the group camp down the road. (smart people) Chen, Siu, Brian and I continued on. Once we got to the top of the mile long climb, it was downhill all the way back. Too bad the horses had mucked it up so bad. It wasn't rideable in places, nor was it easy to walk, but it was downhill! The others were at the group camp waiting for us and we proceeded across the road to climb up to Thunder Rocks on a dirt road for lunch.
Thunder Rocks is a really neat place with boulders the size of large houses just sitting at the top of the mountains, probably left there by the glaciers. As we were mounting our bikes to leave, a bunch of teenagers who had passed us near the top on the way up yelled, "We'll beat you down!" ......I don't think so! Sure enough, we were at the bottom long before them! Back at the cars we said goodbye to the group, but as usual, just had to check out another possible trail before leaving!
Perfect weather, great food, good people, only two broken chains and best of all, no injuries.....I'd say it was a great weekend. Next year, same place. October 2-4. Save the date!