Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sandy Creek Tunnel Bike Ride

Monday morn’ I decided it was time to take that lumber I bought back in June and make some little pieces out of the big pieces. A bike rack was needed for the back of the truck. When the camper is off it’s difficult to haul the bikes anywhere cause they lay on top one another in the truck bed bouncin’ down the road. So today I make a bike rack. I wanted something that I could take apart and store flat in the voids of the platform the camper rides on in the truck bed. Remember we have rails bolted through the bed of the truck to mount our fifth wheel hitch on and I constructed a platform just a tad higher so the camper would have a solid base in the truck. This is what the platform looks like in the bed of the truck.

Truck Bed Platform

The plywood piece in the upper right is for our second battery. I constructed a battery box mounted to the camper last winter but it made loadin’ & unloadin’ far too difficult, so the battery’s back in the bed again. Anyway I didn’t want this bike rack goin’ the way of the battery box so the smoke was really rollin’ out my ears tryin’ to come up with a design that would satisfy all my requirements. I think I hit it with this one.


The rack fits between the existing 2x4 platform and when disassembled all the pieces will fit between the cavities in that platform. No room to carry them anywhere else in truck camper land!


Here it is from the rear with the bikes

So bikes secured in the bike rack we headed out fer’ a ride. In this area there are great bike trails that follow Oil Creek and then the Allegheny river. Today we were tryin’ a spur trail off those called the Sandy Creek Trail. All  the trails are old railroad beds so the grades are very minimal. We found the parking area and started down the trial, and I do mean down. Didn’t have to pedal much as you could almost coast continuously. Linda was concerned about coming back and having to climb those long slight grades. The trail is very pretty through the mountainous Pennsylvania countryside. Sandy Creek meandered back and forth and we crossed it 2 or 3 times on bridges. Then came the Sandy Creek Tunnel.


The scenery changes constantly from wooded to small meadows to rock cliff ravines cut long ago for the rail bed. Then we were crossing the creek again and further along the trail we crossed the Allegheny River on the Belmar Bridge.


It was a beautiful day for a ride and the river was as pretty as ever.


After crossing the bridge the trail ran out and we decided to turn around and return to the parking lot. We stopped and chatted with several folks along the trail. Found out we could access the Allegheny River Trail, which crossed below us, by navigating a series of steps down from the trail we rode. After lookin’ over the steps we decided to skip that daredevil feat and kept followin’ the trail we had rode out. The slight uphill grades that Linda was fretin’ about never materialized. It was like someone ironed out all the hills after we rode down. Sure we had to keep peddalin’ but with shiftin’ gears we just rode on back and were back at the parkin’ lot sooner that I expected. 


The bikes are back in their rack waitin’ for the next adventure.

We drove on down the road to check out the next access to the trail. It was located where the Rockland station used to be and along the way we stopped to look at Freedom Falls. The falls are located along Rockland Station road on SHull Run.


This wasn’t the rushing falls we were told we’d hear from the road.

After the falls we headed down the mountain further to the Rockland Tunnel. The Rockland tunnel is 2860’ long and is built with a curve near the far end. We walked rather than ride through cause we don’t have lights on our bikes and it gets quite dark rather quickly after entering. We walked to the other end and then returned to the car satisfied we had seen two tunnels in a day. There is one tunnel left on this part of the trail system and I believe it is 3800’ long and is located outside Kennerdell.

Well we were pleased, a 5.8 mile bike ride followed by a one mile walk to cool down, all the while takin’ in the beauty of the Allegheny Mountains, what a great day.

Well I’m tired from all the fresh air and exercise today so I’ll call it quits. Hope to see ya’ down the road as we’re;

Dancin’ on the Wind.

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