We’ve been going down to the Susquehannock Lodge in Potter County Pennsylvania every spring since 1992. Ann grew up in this area and knows it well. In 1991, she resurrected a weekend event that our club had done decades ago. We go down on Friday morning, do a short ride that includes a lunch stop, and return for dinner after 40 or more miles, depending on the weather. On Saturday, we typically do a longer ride, and on Sunday, we do a slightly shorter (not much) ride, return for dinner at 4pm, and head home afterwards. The back roads are beautiful, but as this is steep hilly country here in the mountains of Pennsylvania, many of us get riding early in the season just to prepare for this weekend!
The lodge is operated by Ed and Carol who are the nicest people, the greatest hosts, and I think I can say are really part of the “family”. I’ve always thought we should just give them honorary membership in the bike club!
Like I said, Ann started this in 1991. I missed the first year since I just moved back to Rochester that spring and didn’t even know about this event starting that year, but with the exception of 2013, I’ve been here every year since 1992 … when people discovered that Karen and I had become “an item”.
Day One – Thursday, May 29th
Doing my penance.
Because I missed coming in 2013 due to my Great Divide adventure, I felt it appropriate to make it up by riding down to the lodge on Thursday, rather than driving down on Friday. A small handful of club members have been doing this over the years, but I’ve never tried my hand at it till now.
My ride started at 5:30am because I knew it was going to be a long tough day. I chose to ride my Surly Long Haul Trucker (LHT) with it’s loaded touring setup so that I could carry my clothing and essentials. Between the racks, panniers, fenders, lights (front hub generator powered), expedition wheels (tandem rear hub, El Gordo rims, 48 spokes per wheel, and 60psi wide tires) and my Jeff Jones Loop Bars, this is not my “fast” bike, right?
Fast, I was not. Comfy, no question! The bike is geared low, so the inevitable hill climbing was tolerable if not challenging and quite fun. This was a sunrise to sunset ride of 115 miles, 11,800′ of climbing, and a few sections of dirt back roads that reminded me of the Great Divide … without the grizzlys.
See the stats and route map as recorded by GaiaGPS that I had running on the iPad Mini in the pannier.
I had several nice stops:
East Avon for a slug of chocolate milk and to turn on “Find My Friends” on the iPhone so Karen could watch my progress.
Scottsburg to check out a discovery at the town hall.
Dansville, for breakfast #2 … corned beef hash, eggs, toast and coffee … at the Sunrise Family Restaurant.
Arkport for a Big Gulp at the 7-11 because I hadn’t been drinking enough on this somewhat cool morning and was starting to feel it while pushing into the increasing headwinds.
Alfred Station to see my old buddy Peter at his new BicycleMan recumbent and trike dealer location.
Andover for a brownie and coffee at the coffee shop, and get a warning about the road to Independence and Whitesville. So noted!
Whitesville, where I serendipitously met Bob Cooper and Joe Voekel (who also rode down) at the Whitesville House. A Sloppy Joe and fries washed down with a Southern Tier XXIPA and a tall cold Coke was just the caloric supplement I badly needed at this point.
Ulysses for one last shot of chocolate milk.
And finally, I dragged myself in the carriage house at the lodge after 8:30 and it’s getting dark. A long hot soaking bath was just the ticket. I slept like a baby!
Day Two – Friday, May 30th
Bob, Joe and I had a nice breakfast while waiting for the rest of the gang to arrive. Everyone who planned to ride today all showed up within a 30 minute window and we were off and riding to Sweden Valley for lunch by 11am. We took a longer route to breakfast, up route 449 to Brooklyn and left up over the hills of Sweden Valley Road. Still feeling beat from yesterday, I had to stop for a minute to snack enough to get to the restaurant where the bikers and bikes collected. After a great lunch (I had chili and cheesy fries), we headed toward Coudersport and up a county road to what we call the Seven Bridges loop. After passing the headwaters of the Allegany River, and the headwaters of the Genesee River just a mile from there, our group broke in two with some headed for Ulysses, and another group heading back to the barn. Those of us calling it early, to “save something for tomorrow”, got 38 miles today in beautiful weather. Showered and rehydrated, we now wait for dinner! Not long … Dinner was salmon with a corn mango salsa topping, asparagus, rice and a cake with chocolate bits and topping. Yum! As always, a great meal at the lodge.
Afterwards, the gang migrated to the living room to relax and chat. Digital devices came out to utilize the WiFi … mostly to check out tomorrow’s weather. It looks perfect at the moment. Let’s see what tomorrow brings!
Day Three – Saturday, May 31st
Gorgeous! Simply gorgeous day! Following the typical morning coffee infusions and terrific breakfast, the gang headed up PA route 6 toward Coudersport. After a photo stop and for some more coffee, we continued the loop into the hills north of Coudersport, past Hebron, to Ann’s parents house for a lunch break,
and another food (ok … ice cream) stop in Genesee. The final leg of the day was a jaunt over to Ulysses, where the group split in two. One group took the hillier route back to the lodge via Brookland, and the other group took the longer gentler way via Louck’s Mills. We logged 71 miles today.
Snack, beverages and conversation flowed before a great chicken and lasagna dinner! Oh … ice cream and brownies for desert! Back to the living room after dinner, and the discussions and planning for future adventures continues.
Day Four – Sunday, June 1st
Never at a loss for cool ideas, Todd dreamed up an adventurous route into areas we had never been before. It was of course, a gravel grinder that attracted the likes of Bob, Joe, Steve, Brad, and Todd and myself. An eclectic collection of retro mountain bikes, randonneurs, and a certain LHT got pulled into service this day. And all served well, with no flats or failures or any bikes down.
The ride had four serious up-ups and a couple very memorable down-downs. All total, the surly group tallied 40 miles and 3,600′ of climbing … most all of the action being on dirt.
We returned to the lodge in plenty of time to pack for home before our last dinner of the weekend and the trip back home.
Once again, big thanks to Ann for organizing the weekend, and we all credit her for ordering up the perfect weather for the weekend!
Can it get any better than this?