There is a saying around here that if you grow up skiing in the east, you can ski anywhere. Easterners cut their teeth on rock hard icy trails with high winds and frigid conditions. Some of the best racers and skiers in the country grew up skiing on the steep and demanding trails of the East. The same can be said for the trails that we Easterners ride on mountain bikes. From the mountains of Georgia, to the Shenandoahs, to the Appalachians, to the Green and White Mountains of New England, the trails are rocky, rooty, muddy, sploogy, tests of will in very tight singletrack conditions. The Greenlee boys taught me the ropes a while back when we rode at Moraine State Park. This area in Western Pa. is known as the Terminal Moraine. Geologically speaking it is where the glaciers melted and deposited large amounts of granite not indiginous to this area. These granite tombstones litter the trails and make the riding challenging to say the least. All of us who ride in Western Pa. have been exposed to these trails one time or another if they are serious about mountain biking.
West Virginia is held in the same regard for demanding trails as I have pointed out in previous posts. Gunnar Shogren, a former GT Mountain Bike Professional was known as the “Beast of the East” because his stock always rose when national races were held in the East where he was most comfortable. Western rides tend to be lung searing, altitude challenges with fire roads and singletrack. But nothing can compare to the Eastern conditions that we ride regularly. Central Pa. has its mountains and no challenge is greater than the Tussey Mountain Trail or the associated trails that are part of the Rothrock State Forest near State College,Pa. If you want to ride momentum stopping, tombstone like obstacles in the trail, you need not look any further than the Tussey Mountain Trail or the John Wert Path. A true test of skill and endurance can be found here.
However, the Laurel Ridge is close and dear to my heart because I have spent a majority of my life enjoying the mountains of Western Pennsylvania. The trails in the mountains have their own challenges as seen by the picture of the “Rock Garden” at Seven Springs Mountain Resort. http://www.7springs.com This section of trail is part of the 24 Hour Race Course and has also been part of the course when the NORBA National Mountain Bike Series was held at Seven Springs. I fractured my wrist in this lovely little garden a few years back and was relegated to riding most of the summer in an Ace Wrist Guard with a metal protector. A little uncomfortable for the summer but it allowed my wrist to heal while I still pounded the trails. I have spoken in the last few posts about testing and pushing yourself even when you are a 58 year old kid like me. Momentum is always your friend, as my friend Barry Jeffries always says. Sometimes you have to test your will and ride these sections to keep your skills sharp if you want to continue to enjoy what the Laurel Highlands has to offer. There are miles of trails like the other photo shown above and I always enjoy the Laurel Highlands on a mountain bike. I call it accelerated hiking. No cars, no crowds, just quiet peaceful trails riddled with the frequent challenges of rocks and roots. Your troubles can be left behind if you ride these trails because you have virtually no time to think about anything else than concentrating on where to put your wheel in the next rock section. Whenever I finish(survive) a good ride in the Laurel Mountains, I feel like I got a very good workout and kept my riding skills sharp. Even for an old guy.
If you check out my post about my fireplace, it is constructed with the rock that you find in the mountains of Western Pa. It is a constant reminder to me of the challenges that we face whenever we Eastern riders go to our trails of choice. Like the skiing here, the riding is challenging. The green woods are lush with fern growth and the hardwoods provide a perfect canopy for riders. Lots of local riders enjoy these trails and many of them ride them with true expertise. But it is important for us older riders to continue to ride these challenging trails and keep our skills sharp so that we can enjoy this wonderful sport for a long, long time. Test yourself, push yourself. We all know our limits but when you go just a little beyond your comfort zone, keep your momentum up and ride it out, you can have a thrill that lasts for many days until………….the next ride. Check out the Laurel Highlands. Whether you ski them, hike them, or ride them, let them teach you. You will enjoy it. Thanks for reading.