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Thread: Best PA XC

  1. #1
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    Best PA XC

    I am looking for true XC riding. It seems most trails are designed for riders who like DH or at a minimum All Mountain FS bikes. I like to ride to test my lungs and legs, not my test my fear of breaking a collar bone. I have no interest in trail, all-mountain, DH, trials, dirt jump, or whatever. I just like XC riding.

    Where did the cyclocross and UCI World Cup style XC trails go? The only thing I have found that that comes close is the Southern Alleghenies near Breezewood. That is a 3 hour drive for me. Ringwood, NJ is pretty good but is also far away - and not in PA, sorry.

    Someone suggested Blue Marsh. Is that worth an hour-plus drive? What would be the best loop for XC?

    Any other XC riders in PA?

  2. #2
    Inbred Homebrewer
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    Quote Originally Posted by elephant
    I am looking for true XC riding. It seems most trails are designed for riders who like DH or at a minimum All Mountain FS bikes. I like to ride to test my lungs and legs, not my test my fear of breaking a collar bone. I have no interest in trail, all-mountain, DH, trials, dirt jump, or whatever. I just like XC riding.

    Where did the cyclocross and UCI World Cup style XC trails go? The only thing I have found that that comes close is the Southern Alleghenies near Breezewood. That is a 3 hour drive for me. Ringwood, NJ is pretty good but is also far away - and not in PA, sorry.

    Someone suggested Blue Marsh. Is that worth an hour-plus drive? What would be the best loop for XC?

    Any other XC riders in PA?
    I dunno - I suppose it's all in your definition of what's considered "XC" and what's not. For me, I've always considered the trails I ride regularly to be XC (because terms like 'freeride' and 'all-mountain' didn't exist when I was starting out.)

    [cue 'old curmudgeon' voice]

    "Back in my day, there was DH (which involved a ski area, lift service, and stoopid-big 60t chainrings) and there was XC (read: everything else). Then as NORBA caught on, XC race courses became increasingly 'sanitized'. Less technical and, generally, a whole lot less interesting.

    Getting back to PA - I still think of places like Wissahickon, French Creek, Valley Forge, High Rocks, etc. as far more XC-oriented than anything else. Some places are more challenging than others, but I'd hardly call them trials-oriented, freeride, or 'all-mountain' - whatever that is. All can certainly be riden on a rigid bike, if that's your thing.

    It sounds to me like Blue Marsh is exactly the kind of place you're looking for. 30 miles of rolling to steep hills, non-technical single and doubletrack. I think you'd find it worth the drive. Of all the places I go regularly, BM definitely has a sort of fast-paced west-coasty NORBA course feel to it. Another place you should probably look into is White Clay Creek. It's in Delaware, but only a short drive from the PA state line.
    [SIZE="2"][/SIZE]"mmmm....Beeeeeeer." - Homer J. Simpson

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    Good job!

    elephant:

    You say you don't wanna break your collarbone then Ringwood, Waywayanda, Gettysburg nor Micheaux, Hubbard, Tussey are not for you.

    I don't mean to discount those places, but here in PA you will encounter "ROCKS" weather they be on the trail or off to the side!

    I think the riders ability can be tempered by the person behind the handlebars. If you visit a place learn it slowly with the attempt to not get hurt!

    Explore and try them all just as most of us have done throughout our life!

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    Have you ridden Michaux State Forest before? I'd describe it as tough, technical, old school (non-sanitized) trails. Most people ride a FS bike with around 4" of travel, but there are others on hardtails and rigid bikes that keep up just fine.

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    Interesting so far. Responses in no particular order.

    Thanks for the input.

    I guess what you guys call "sanitized" is what I call XC - if UCI World Cup courses are sanitized then absolutely perfect. If there are rock gardens every 30 yards that are 30 yards long and almost all riders use 5" FS bikes, I would call that some other type of riding; it is a type of riding that has developed as suspension, body armor and car shuttles have become more common.

    The "main" course at Ringwood has zero rock gardens or maybe one very short one. It is most similar to XC race courses that I did 10 to 15 years ago.

    At the trails closest to me, almost all riders have FS bikes with no big ring but a big old bashguard. They like to place large boulders or logs in the trails (or build trails that go toward this sort of thing) or simply ride off trails to try to ride over or off of stuff.

    The collarbone comment was related to the fact I am not out looking for jumps, drops, giant rocks, etc to ride my bike over - i.e. I am not into "Radvertising" or anything "X-treme!"

    I used to ride at White Clay Preserve, Carpenter Park, Brandywine, Bellevue and Iron Hill. Iron Hill was great; it had a race series that was technically cyclocross, so it was smooth, fast, etc. All of those parks were fairly smooth when I rode them, but that stuff is two hours away and I would be surprised if the trails were not rebuilt more oriented toward FS bikes - but White Clay may be worth a try. When I moved to Philly it was basically Wissahickon only - not my favorite.

    Now, I am near Bethlehem, PA. There is some good riding here but every pair of good sections is connected by a crazy rock garden. I am just sick of rock gardens and boulder fields and rock plantations and whatever the mega-agro-business version of a rock farm would be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stick
    It sounds to me like Blue Marsh is exactly the kind of place you're looking for. 30 miles of rolling to steep hills, non-technical single and doubletrack. I think you'd find it worth the drive. Of all the places I go regularly, BM definitely has a sort of fast-paced west-coasty NORBA course feel to it.
    This does sound best for me. Where should I park, enter the trail, which direction should I go (clockwise or CCW) and what is the best map? Since I will be riding alone, I like to get some advice for starting out and always like to have a map.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by elephant
    This does sound best for me. Where should I park, enter the trail, which direction should I go (clockwise or CCW) and what is the best map? Since I will be riding alone, I like to get some advice for starting out and always like to have a map.

    Definitely search through this forum. If I have some time, I'll try to post a link to one of the old threads - but it's all been posted before (more than once). Everybody has a different take on it but, 99% of the time, I start and finish at the Stilling Basin parking area riding clockwise around from mile marker 0 to 30.

    I do it this way out of pure habit more than anything else because I guess I don't mind carrying a heavy load of water and gatorade w/ me. Those who do will often start at the Church Rd lot (~ mile marker 14 or 21ish depending on if you do the ski area loop before or after the rest) and ride clockwise around. This way takes you past the visitor center after ~ 9 or 15 miles (again, depending). The VC is the only place to refill bottles or camelbaks along the way - so going at it this way allows you to carry ~ 1/2 the capacity and still not run dry.

    edit: here's a link that should give more info than you need -

    Blue Marsh: detailed trail map
    [SIZE="2"][/SIZE]"mmmm....Beeeeeeer." - Homer J. Simpson

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    Thanks, Stick.

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    The Geisinger trails in Danville are fairly non-technical. There are some good climbs and nice rolling singletrack through some pine forests and such. It will definetly test your lung capacity as it tends to be up or down, not much flat.

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    Good job! Now I got ya...

    It would be nice to have a trail system like that around here, but people complain when we do such a trail. They complain we make the trail too easy yet they don't think the speed will increase.
    Personally I can't get enough Rocks and it has nothing to do with Suspension... I ride Rigid 29ers, SS and 1x9!

    Hum... Did a race once at Wye Mills MD... Exactly what you speak of!

    Are you on a Monstercrosser?

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    Have you looked into the Perkiomen trail system.Built on the old rail line I think it covers trom Green Lane to about 30mi or all the way to Philly (witch ever comes first) in a straight line.It can get congested on the weekends.

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    Try Marsh Creek too. Near Downingtown(I think). I did a race there and I remember it as being pretty non technical. White Clay is definately worth the drive. Lots of swoopy-non technical, but fast trails. There's also a skills trail supplied with bailouts so you can decide exactly how much fun to have. Fair Hill would fit your bill too. I can think of nothing a strong novice couldn't ride.
    HTH

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    you would like the 24 hour course at 7 Springs, too bad Bethlehem is kinda far away.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NEPMTBA
    Are you on a Monstercrosser?
    What?

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    Where exactly are you?

    I'm biased towards to White Clay/Middle Run. Then obviously Fair Hill. Plenty of fast SMOOTH single track. XC riders paradise if you will. The Trailspinners keep the trails in tip top shape.

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    xc trail riding

    You can check out Jim Thorpe. There are some trails there that are rolling singletrack mixed in with some technical but nothing that can't be ridden without the fear of killing yourself. Some trails have been closed so check with one of the local bike shops for maps and advice. Plus it's not too far from where you live, roughly about an hour or so.

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    if you

    want cross type trails that are fast check out
    http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/statePar...acobsburg.aspx
    http://bikevmb.com/?q=forum/11

    trail maps are at the main parking lot

    just google maps jacobsburg state park


    people say it's too easy, but that's compared to other places in the area. i think it's perfect for what you want.

    i would also recommend blue marsh. i know the pro roadies train with their cross bikes there.

  18. #18
    ganginwood
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    wolfman's brother mentioned the tour de tykes course at danville medical center . that sounds like what your looking for. the race is 18 miles (point to point) of single track. hard packed, well groomed and lots of climbing. its one of the better courses on the circuit. no rock gardens but lots of climbing. i did mention climbing right? the descent coming off the noth eastern side of the road is superb. flowing, fast and tight. julian absalon would approve.

    if i recall correctly the 18 mile loop has almost 5grand of climbing?? i could be a little off.

    besides the course proper, there are additional trails that they mix in from year to year. let me make a call and i'll see if i could get you a local guide. i'll shoot you a pm. once in danville your within an hour of several other opportunities which would make it worth your time.

    edit: 5,000 elev gain/loss

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    Go to Jacobsburg

    This is a super fun, fast, not too technical place to ride. You will like it and it is not far from where you live.

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    Good job!

    Quote Originally Posted by elephant
    What?
    Monstercross...

    I Beg You, More MONSTERCROSS

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    Im also in the LV area- Jordan, Jacobsburg, or Green Lane are your best bets for singletrack that isnt technical. Or you could ride the Lehigh towpath, Ironton Rail Trail or Lehigh Parkway for a 'smooth and fast' off road fix. FWIW, I race XC and CX, and have ridden in Southern California and all around Europe, and I actually prefer more technical trails because it makes race day that much easier. I guess not being used to the typical local riding would make it appear 'extreme,' but given some time, they really do become much smoother and ridable than they might appear. Good luck!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by elephant
    I...
    Where did the cyclocross and UCI World Cup style XC trails go? The only thing I have found that that comes close is the Southern Alleghenies near Breezewood. ...
    Tell me about the trails in breezewood? Where do I park? There is some fun XC stuff out in PGH where I currently live, but that'd be way too far!

    -Joe

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    Quote Originally Posted by 64mtnbiker
    You can check out Jim Thorpe. There are some trails there that are rolling singletrack mixed in with some technical but nothing that can't be ridden without the fear of killing yourself. Some trails have been closed so check with one of the local bike shops for maps and advice. Plus it's not too far from where you live, roughly about an hour or so.
    Thanks. I should look into to this more. It has been suggested before and I have been to Jim Thorpe (for white water and hiking only), but I almost always ride alone so it is hard sometimes to figure out where to go.

    As I understand it, many of the closed trails are in State Game Lands. There are rules to determine when they are closed to "scouting" during certain hunting seasons, but I think with a valid hunting license anyone can use a bike as transportation to "scout".
    Last edited by elephant; 01-17-2008 at 02:54 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 88 rex
    Where exactly are you?

    I'm biased towards to White Clay/Middle Run. Then obviously Fair Hill. Plenty of fast SMOOTH single track. XC riders paradise if you will. The Trailspinners keep the trails in tip top shape.
    I am 10 minutes outside Bethlehem, PA in Bucks county.

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    Quote Originally Posted by xjoex
    Tell me about the trails in breezewood? Where do I park? There is some fun XC stuff out in PGH where I currently live, but that'd be way too far!

    -Joe
    http://www.thealleghenies.com/bike_offroad.aspx?t=70

    The maps are not very good, but there are better ones out there. I'll look around for you. The trails are off Rt 30 and PA Rt 915 near the Breezewood exit off I-76. There are some really nice trails. Many are service roads or mining roads that are now used for horses and ATVs. Some great long and steep climbs and some singletrack that varies from smooth to rock garden, but I can ride everything there on a hardtail and not destroy my back.

    I really like it there and I got there 4 or 5 times in the past year.

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