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  1. #1
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    Visiting from Scotland, what should I definately ride?

    Hi

    I'm coming over from Scotland next month and will have a krampus hopefully, so this will limit the type of riding I can do, staying in Doylestown and going to Jim Thorpe? Can anyone tell me what I should definitely ride? I consider myself advanced, so not looking for something too easy.

    Also, what are the trails like there? Do I need a map or are they way marked? Should I have a garmin/gps to guide me? Are snakes something I should be worried about (I rode in NC last time and didn't realize that there were snakes.) Anything else that's unique to this area that I should be aware of?

    Also, is there anything no mtb related that I simply MUST do or see here? Obviously I will go to New York at some point.

    Many thanks

    Ian

  2. #2
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    I would say NOT to go to Jim Thorpe so, if you change your mind let me know. Also, Doylestown Bike Works is your support place there.

  3. #3
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    A little closer to Doylestown would be Bethlehem's South Mountain(and a few other park areas). Saucon Valley Bikes in Hellertown is a good contact for that area's trails/meets.
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  4. #4
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    The Wissahickon (in Philadelphia) would also be less of a drive from Doylestown (40 minutes or so) and many would consider it a must if you're in the area. There are a bunch of videos on YouTube to give you an idea:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=wiss...ficial&tbm=vid

    Also, you could probably very easily hook up with other riders here as it's heavily ridden.

    Ralph Stover/High Rocks is very close to Doylestown. PA*DCNR*-*Ralph Stover State Park

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by RepoMan2112 View Post
    The Wissahickon (in Philadelphia) would also be less of a drive from Doylestown (40 minutes or so) and many would consider it a must if you're in the area. There are a bunch of videos on YouTube to give you an idea:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=wiss...ficial&tbm=vid

    Also, you could probably very easily hook up with other riders here as it's heavily ridden.

    Ralph Stover/High Rocks is very close to Doylestown. PA*DCNR*-*Ralph Stover State Park
    Those are two great suggestions. If you have a car, the Bear Creek course - while short, is also a great ride.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by RepoMan2112 View Post
    The Wissahickon (in Philadelphia) would also be less of a drive from Doylestown (40 minutes or so) and many would consider it a must if you're in the area. There are a bunch of videos on YouTube to give you an idea:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=wiss...ficial&tbm=vid

    Also, you could probably very easily hook up with other riders here as it's heavily ridden.

    Ralph Stover/High Rocks is very close to Doylestown. PA*DCNR*-*Ralph Stover State Park
    Great suggestions. Wissahickon is largely regarded as the city of Philadelphia's crown jewel mountain biking trail- it's got a little bit of everything there- a full loop is close to 20 miles and (iirc) 3500 feet of climbing. The trails range from technical rock gardens, both up and down, lots of roots and forested flow sections.

    That said, if you want a real challenge, Belmont, also in Philly is hard to beat. it is very technical and not even remotely beginner friendly. There's not a whole lot of elevation, but what is there tends to be challenging. The trail system might be best regarded as deliberately primitive. A casual look at the trails might suggest that they're barely maintained, but nearly every log (there are a LOT) rock and other feature is there on purpose. The trails run through abandoned street car and rail right-of-ways that were built nearly a century and a half ago, and if you look carefully, you'll see historical remnants throughout the park- long disused bridge abutments, rail platforms, dry laid stone walls and and the ghosts of building foundations laid nearly 200 years ago and long abandoned. in addition to the logs and rocks, the trails are quite tight, a throwback to the clunker days when a mountain bike meant no suspension, 26" wheels, 1.95" tires and a steep, 73-71 head tube angles. it's a challenge to find the trails rhythm and go fast, but if you can, it's very rewarding. In these days where most trails, especially in public parks, are bland, IMBA-certified flow trails that are dumbed down, easy to ride, beginner friendly trails that a decent rider can ride half asleep, Belmont is a punch-you-in-the-face blast of Philly attitude.
    The attitude there, can be summed up as "if you can't ride here, maybe Belmont is not for you," which is not so much a local's only manifesto, but a challenge to HTFU and raise yourself to what the trails offer. Many riders try Belmont once and never come back, which is their loss. Personally, I hated Belmont for the first 2 years that I rode there. At the same time, I kept coming back, partly because I'm lazy and Belmont is closer to my house than Wissahickon. I also came back because the trails pissed me off- they were hard as f@k to ride and nothing inspires me more than a challenge. Now, Belmont is my favorite place in the city to ride. I still haven't mastered it all, but each time I ride there, I leave a better rider than before i arrived.

    The best setup there is a hard-tail XC bike with clip-less pedals, (a 29er+ Krampus will be excellent), but i've seen guys do well from anything to 25 year-old 26" rigid mountain bikes, all-mountain 29er hard tails, fat bikes and everything else in between.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gigantic View Post
    Great suggestions. Wissahickon is largely regarded as the city of Philadelphia's crown jewel mountain biking trail- it's got a little bit of everything there- a full loop is close to 20 miles and (iirc) 3500 feet of climbing. The trails range from technical rock gardens, both up and down, lots of roots and forested flow sections.

    That said, if you want a real challenge, Belmont, also in Philly is hard to beat. it is very technical and not even remotely beginner friendly. There's not a whole lot of elevation, but what is there tends to be challenging. The trail system might be best regarded as deliberately primitive. A casual look at the trails might suggest that they're barely maintained, but nearly every log (there are a LOT) rock and other feature is there on purpose. The trails run through abandoned street car and rail right-of-ways that were built nearly a century and a half ago, and if you look carefully, you'll see historical remnants throughout the park- long disused bridge abutments, rail platforms, dry laid stone walls and and the ghosts of building foundations laid nearly 200 years ago and long abandoned. in addition to the logs and rocks, the trails are quite tight, a throwback to the clunker days when a mountain bike meant no suspension, 26" wheels, 1.95" tires and a steep, 73-71 head tube angles. it's a challenge to find the trails rhythm and go fast, but if you can, it's very rewarding. In these days where most trails, especially in public parks, are bland, IMBA-certified flow trails that are dumbed down, easy to ride, beginner friendly trails that a decent rider can ride half asleep, Belmont is a punch-you-in-the-face blast of Philly attitude.
    The attitude there, can be summed up as "if you can't ride here, maybe Belmont is not for you," which is not so much a local's only manifesto, but a challenge to HTFU and raise yourself to what the trails offer. Many riders try Belmont once and never come back, which is their loss. Personally, I hated Belmont for the first 2 years that I rode there. At the same time, I kept coming back, partly because I'm lazy and Belmont is closer to my house than Wissahickon. I also came back because the trails pissed me off- they were hard as f@k to ride and nothing inspires me more than a challenge. Now, Belmont is my favorite place in the city to ride. I still haven't mastered it all, but each time I ride there, I leave a better rider than before i arrived.

    The best setup there is a hard-tail XC bike with clip-less pedals, (a 29er+ Krampus will be excellent), but i've seen guys do well from anything to 25 year-old 26" rigid mountain bikes, all-mountain 29er hard tails, fat bikes and everything else in between.
    Belmont is great but very easy to get lost in if you are not from the area. But your description is spot on. Compared to what the FOW are doing in the Wiss, Belmont is a throwback to what ridding in the area used to be like...
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  8. #8
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    Check out Reading Pa, Mt Penn/Antietam Lake,XC, AM and DH, shuttle friendly! go to BAMBA ( Berks Area Mountain Biking Association) for contacts to get you a tour !

  9. #9
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    Ian;
    Let me know when you're looking to go to JT. JT still is great to ride, if I can I'll make a trip and meet ya and do the American Standard with ya. I think you'd like it.

    Nothing is marked in JT, a Garmin GPX track would help you out greatly, most of the maps will not have the better trails on them, because they are technically off limits....but if you know someone who loves to ride it, many folks still do, they can and will show you around.

    As for snakes, yes there are snakes, Eastern Rattlesnakes, and Copperheads, and Black Snakes.
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  10. #10
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    I second Vack's opinion. I've seen rattlers on the Standard, but its been less than half a dozen times in 22 years of riding up there, so don't get worked up about them. The American Standard has a bit of everything, except big climbing. Some flowy (for the area) singletrack, a lot of rocky singletrack, a few short, punchy climbs, and a little fireroad too. The deer path, also on the Broad Mt. near Thorpe, can be thrown in as well to up the mileage, or done another day. Its a great ride too- less rocky than the Standard. If Vack's unavailable I might be able to show you around, esp. if its a weeknight.

  11. #11
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    Right, apparently we will be going to Ricketts Glen on the 21st and 22nd of August. She told me we will be going to Jim Thorpe which I assumed was Ricketts Glen... just checked the map and it isn't. There is another chance to head there later in the week so I will let you know what the plan is Vack and clipless because it would be cool to meet up.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    Belmont is great but very easy to get lost in if you are not from the area. But your description is spot on. Compared to what the FOW are doing in the Wiss, Belmont is a throwback to what ridding in the area used to be like...
    I'm happy to give tours... Eightball, hit me up if you want to ride Belmont.
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  13. #13
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    Visiting from Scotland, what should I definately ride?

    How has no one mentioned nockanixon yet? It's closest to doylestown and a krampus would be pretty fun there.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gigantic View Post
    I'm happy to give tours... Eightball, hit me up if you want to ride Belmont.
    Thanks. I know Belmont pretty well, been ridding there since 1991-2! I actually rode there even before I rode the Wiss!
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by eightball View Post
    Are snakes something I should be worried about (I rode in NC last time and didn't realize that there were snakes.)
    Many thanks

    Ian
    I'm sorry to edit your post, but what I've quoted is the only thing I have any experience with.

    Unfortunately, we didn't have Saint Patrick back in the day to banish the blighters, so we've got plenty of snakes in the entire state. Fortunately, most are non-venomous.

    When I'm on the trail, I rarely go a day without seeing a snake. Sometimes, I'll see a dozen or more during a 1 hour ride. They're almost always non-venomous. It also depends upon the particular path that I'm on. For example, I've seen scores of snakes on one trail in the valley, but in 20 years not one of them was venomous, while on another trail just 8 km away up on the mountain, it seems like every snake is poisonous. My very limited trail riding experience encompasses southern Schuylkill, northern Dauphin and Lebanon Counties only.

    I don't know how accurate these charts are, but they list the range of Pennsylvania's venomous snakes.

    http://fishandboat.com/water/amprep/...d/rangemap.gif
    http://addins.waow.com/blogs/weather...rridus_map.jpg

    This applies only in Pennsylvania. If the snake in question has round pupils like you and I, it's not venomous. If it has cat eye pupils, it's venomous. Northern water snakes may not be venomous, but they sure are aggressive and put on quite a good act. I've had a few charge me as I tried going well around them.

    Welcome to Pennsylvania!

    Cheers,
    Appalachian Kamper
    Last edited by Appalachian_Kamper; 08-03-2014 at 09:52 AM. Reason: No Rhodes scholar here...

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    Thanks. I know Belmont pretty well, been ridding there since 1991-2! I actually rode there even before I rode the Wiss!
    meant to the OP...
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  17. #17
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    Ok now you've scared the crap out me! Water snakes that charge you??!!

  18. #18
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    don't believe the hype. Snakes are not anything to worry about around these parts. Rocks and roots will put a hurt on you, but you'll be lucky to even see a snake.
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  19. #19
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    As I've previously stated, in the parts of the counties where I ride, it's full of snakes. In the valley, I've never seen one venomous snake in at least 20 years of riding, hiking, and poking about. Up on the mountain where another abandoned railroad bed is, I occasionally see timber rattlesnakes.

    The non-venomous northern water snake puts on a rather impressive show. Some of the larger ones can be quite aggressive. I stopped to admire one from what I considered a safe distance as not to unduly alarm the snake. Well, it wasn't having any of the sight seeing nonsense, and it put on it's best cobra routine as it would charge/move 1 - 2 feet closer to me in rapid succession. I just left it alone, walked well around it, and the second it saw i was walking away, it reared up and flopped out of sight into the grass line along the trail.

    In the Swatara State Park, I can see 10 snakes in my 1 1/4 hour ride, which covers 20 total miles up and back. I sometimes see more than that, but I'm not counting road kills. Most of the snakes in the valley are black in color. Whether they're black racers or black rat snakes, I don't know, but they're rather docile, don't mind being handled. When they're surprised, they play possum. They usually "kink up," so it gives every outward appearance that it's swallowed a dozen ping pong balls. It looks a lot like a dead fall branch when it does this. Here's a photo of one. They are very harmless. I've accidentally run quite a few over.

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_PUiAFB--px...+Rat+Snake.jpg

    My speed on the trail is usually 16 - 17 mph average. I do not jump or ride the trails (Single Track?) that were put in around the railroad grades. I am a road cyclist who rides flat trails to enjoy the occasional steady grind of escaping the frequent roadway hills/mountains in the ridge and valley of Pennsylvania's Appalachians. The trails I'm speaking of are smooth enough that the 700 x 28C tyres on my road bike rarely get a flat.

    Again, I am only speaking about northern Lebanon and Dauphin Counties as well as southern Schuylkill County. In Rausch Gap & Stony Valley (trail up on the mountain), there are plenty of timber rattlers and copperheads. I've no clue what other trails throughout the commonwealth are like. If you travel below 10 mph and make plenty of heavy bumps on your bike and or if the trail is well traveled, you'll probably never see one.

    I'm not the sort of silly sod who claims to have seen venomous snakes when they were really water, garter, or black snakes.

    Considering the gauntlet of cars/lorries to the trail, horses on the trail, and dawdling pleasure seekers that jump into my path whether I do or don't warn them, I'm not overly concerned about the snakes. They seem to be the only predictable lot on the entire route! By the way, snakes cannot hear.

    At least you're not concerned with the black bears... hahaha

    Cheers and enjoy Penn's woods,
    Appalachian Kamper
    Last edited by Appalachian_Kamper; 08-09-2014 at 01:37 AM. Reason: No Rhodes scholar here

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gigantic View Post
    don't believe the hype. Snakes are not anything to worry about around these parts. Rocks and roots will put a hurt on you, but you'll be lucky to even see a snake.
    I found this to be true. I only saw 1 snake last season and it was because I ventured off the trail.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by I_AM View Post
    I found this to be true. I only saw 1 snake last season and it was because I ventured off the trail.
    Here again, it's really going to depend upon where you are as well as one's situational awareness.

    I have deer, snakes, and black bear in my back yard, so I don't have to go on bicycle trails to see them.

    The fact that there are people do not see them could mean several things, and two of the most obvious are, they're not very aware of their surroundings and or they're in an area where the local flora and fauna are not as abundant. Further exacerbating this would be heavily used trails.

    I am in the Appalachian Mountains, so there's no shortage of both venomous and non venomous snakes. While cycling on the road, I occasionally come across a snake slithering across an active roadway, and daily I see the failed attempts of road kill snakes that sporadically dot the roadside.

    Are they out there? Sure! However, one is statistically more likely to be killed/injured by another motorist whilst driving to/from the trail...

    If I came across as some sort of alarmist, that was not my intention. I'll make this very clear, the lion's share of snakes throughout most parts of the state are completely harmless. In light of other dangers to, from, and on the trail, snakes are dead last.

    Cheers,
    Appalachian Kamper

  22. #22
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    From Rattling Creek.

    100% Venomous

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  23. #23
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    I will be in Maine until September 1st but I live like 30 miles from Ricketts Glen. There is a place called Moon Lake just up the road towards Wilkes Barre that is incredible. I can hook you up with guys that ride and maintain it. It's a great day ride.

    As to snakes. There are snakes all over PA but they are rarely seen or a concern, especially on the trails. It's when you get off the trails that you can run into them more easily. I have been riding Central PA for 20 years and have never seen a rattle snake or copper head on the trails, but they do inhabit most rocky areas. I wouldn't let it stop you from riding!!!

    I am going to Scotland next year for several weeks and plan to ride across the whole country, so I could use some advise and possibly a guide!!!

    How long will you be in PA?

  24. #24
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    Brandywine Creek State Park in Delaware is only 45 minutes from Doylestown and has great trails and is a hidden gem.

  25. #25
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    Nockamixon - one of the best-maintained trails in southeast PA and only a few miles north of Doylestown off route 611 on Tower Rd in Ottsville.

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