First Bikepacking Trip!

I have been TRYING all summer to take my nephew on a camping trip, but it just hadn’t been working out and has been extremely hot lately.  I have also been wanting to try bikepacking for a while so I decided to see if my nephew would be able to come on a short trip with me – win win right?!  🙂

In case you don’t know what bikepacking is, it is like backpacking except you load up all your camping gear in panniers (bags that attach to your bike) so you don’t have to carry it on your back….which I probably should have explained to my sister because she mentioned she was trying to fit his sleeping bag into his backpacking bag.  I had to laugh at the image of my nephew riding his new bike down the trail with his giant backpacking pack on his back.  I reassured my sister that I would be carrying everything on my bike and he could just focus on riding his.  🙂

I decided to take him on the York Heritage Rail Trail – which is a trail I have ridden a few times before.  The plan was to park at Glatfelters Station Parking Lot around mile 13 and then we would bike Indian Rock Campground which is right off the trail around mile 18, camp overnight, then bike back the next day.  This seemed like a reasonable distance to go for an 8 year old on a new bike and myself hauling all the gear – and it is a FLAT trail which is a plus!

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Capital Area Greenbelt Trail

Kevin and I set out to do the entire 20 mile Capital Area Greenbelt trail which creates a loop around the city of Harrisburg, PA.  I was excited to check this trail out because I was considering doing this trail as the yearly group ride that I organize instead of the Lehigh Gorge Trail which is the one we have always done.  I am really glad I checked this trail out prior to taking an entire group of people.  There were some fairly steep hills and lots of road riding which some people who come are very uncomfortable with.

We parked at City Island and took the walker/biker bridge across to the start of the trail.  The first few miles were completely flat and followed the Susquehanna River.  There was a lot of artwork, painted dinosaurs and a cow  – I HAD to stop and get a quick picture of the Triceratops that was across the street because they are my personal favorite dinosaur – FYI.  🙂

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Mount Mansfield Strike 2

Kevin and I got up early to pack the final things we would need for our trip and put them in the truck.  We gave Willow (my cat) her insulin shot and set out for Stowe, VT to try to hike Mt Mansfield before they closed the toll road at 5- I knew we would be cutting it close and my heart sunk when I punched the address into the GPS and saw the estimated arrival time was 3:30- that was over an hour what my phone GPS said!! “We’re not gonna make it” I said – it takes approx 20 mins to drive up the toll road – plus let’s say 2 hrs to hike and enjoy the views and then 20 mins to drive back down- the website says all cars must start driving down by 4:45 at the latest because the gate closes at 5.  This did not give us enough time.  Kevin said his GPS the time always goes down as he drives.  We figured we would give it a try and see if we made it- I wanted to be there by 2 to be safe but knew that just wasn’t possible.  On the long drive I started looking for options for plan B.

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Cycling to the Wildflower Patch

I joined a cycling club a few weeks ago which I LOVE – I have met so many awesome people, although I have to admit I was worried that on my hybrid I wouldn’t be able to keep up.  Turns out I had no problems (and they gave me a 20% off coupon to a bike shop which includes bikes—-could we see a road bike in my future??  Probably yes! 🙂 WAHOO!)  Anyway – I have done a few rides with this group – the problem?  There is no time to stop to take pictures and too much beautiful scenery along the way! LOL!!  I knew an upcoming ride was going to go right by this awesome wildflower patch that everyone has been buzzing about lately, but I couldn’t bear it if I couldn’t stop to take a picture – or 100 – so I decided to bike there myself before the group ride.  I talked my mom into going along so we picked a spot that was fairly close by to park and cycle there.  Now you can just drive up and park in the grass, but what’s the fun in that??  🙂

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Conestoga Trail Section B: Part 1

Since the weather has been so nice I decided to try to finish biking the on road section of the Conestoga Trail.  I asked my mom if she wanted to go with me because we would be going through a few more covered bridges and I knew she would like to see them – but she is very uncomfortable riding on the roads.  We decided to have my dad drive the route so we could see just how busy the roads were.  When we got to the end of the on road section we decided to bike back to Oregon Dairy (which is where I stopped my ride last time) and meet my dad there for lunch.  It seemed like we would be going down more hills than up.  There was a short on road section that we skipped because it was pretty busy, but we found a good place to pull over and jump on our bikes to start our journey!  Although some of the roads had a bit of traffic, for the most part we saw very few cars because we were on back roads in Lancaster County.  We actually saw a bunch of other cyclists and some horse and buggies!

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Ocean to Bay bike ride

Every time I think of Delaware I think of this scene from Wayne’s World:

Yup – so for the 2nd year I headed down to Delaware to take part in the Bethany Beach Ocean to Bay bike ride.  I was a little nervous as the weather channel was calling for up to 40mph winds – not something I really felt like riding 30 miles in, but after watching the documentary The Man Who Cycled The World I figured if Mark Beaumont could ride his bike through the desert in a crazy sandstorm I could probably tough it out for a few hours – plus  I already paid for the place we were staying.  🙂

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This year when I was setting up my Christmas tree I was just not happy with all the old ornaments I have had for YEARS.  They are just very generic ones that anyone could get at any major store – nothing personal about it.  I remember being a kid and almost all of the ornaments on the tree had a special meaning – either my sisters and I MADE them or they had some other significance (1st Christmas, etc).  Thinking about this made me realize my tree was pretty drab and how I could personalize it better.

I am a big fan of supporting local artists and shops on Etsy (In case you don’t know Etsy is a website that sells only handmade or vintage items), so I set out to see what kind of ornaments I could find to “spruce” up my tree (see what I did there??  🙂 haha!)  OK – bad jokes aside I found several LOVELY ornaments that would let me bring my love of the outdoors in!  Then I thought, why don’t I share these with all my outdoorsy friends on my blog – and have a giveaway with one!  (We will get to the giveaway in a sec)

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Conestoga Trail – Section A: part 2

The Conestoga Trail is a little known trail in PA that is 63 miles long, starting in Furnace Hills, PA where it meets the Horseshoe Trail and goes to York, PA where it meets the Mason-Dixon Trail.  It is considered an endangered trail because big sections of the northern part of the trail have been rerouted onto roads due to landowners revoking trail access.  I can’t say that I blame them – on the one hand I want people to get outside and explore, but on the other I’m not so sure I would want people trampling through my private property either.  I can see both sides.

While the southern most section of the trail is considered the most scenic, I decided I was going to do the whole thing in sections- why not?  🙂

I began with the on road section of the trail (Which is near the end of section A of the trail guide) as it is hunting season and a big portion of the start of the trail is closed until hunting is over – this way I could get the “boring” on road section of the trail out of the way first while the days are still nice.  I found out this section is ANYTHING but boring.  While some of the roads are fairly busy (which is why I decided to bike it instead of walk), the views of farmlands, animals and covered bridges were amazing – good old Lancaster County!  This section of the trail is a little hilly with one section I had to get off and push my bike up – it was steep even to walk it!  The only other thing besides cars you need to watch out for on the trail were the road apples which if you are from PA you will know this is a nice way to say horse poop from the Amish horse and buggies.  🙂

cross over this covered bridge to get onto the Conestoga Trail


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The Mystery of the Presta Bike Valve

Last year when Kevin got me my beautiful new Cannondale bike it took a little getting used to – the whole feel of the bike was completely different.  I never would have thought – I mean a bike is just a frame with 2 wheels and pedals right?  I know that there are different bikes for different things – road bike, mountain bike, hybrid…   I went from a Diamondback hybrid to a Cannondale hybrid – It’s hard to explain, maybe I was just trying to be super careful and not wanting anything to happen to it as my new bike was more expensive than what my current car is worth (my car is super old and according to the Kelly Blue Book value my car truly is a little less, but it’s like a tank and I love it dearly and can not bring myself to part with it yet – LOL) but also it just FELT totally different.  It has hydraulic disc brakes, slightly thinner tires (even though they are both considered hybrids) and thumb shifters – which I LOVE – they are sooo smooth compared to my old bike which had the twist grip shifters.  It is also incredibly lighter than my old bike.  I think I was just so used to the my clunky old bike that it took a lot to get used to how smooth the new one was.

soo pretty!  🙂

thumb shifter

But the BIGGEST difference I didn’t even notice until I was riding home from work earlier this year – I decided to swing by a gas station to fill up the tires with air (I got the bike for Christmas so I hadn’t been riding it much til spring.)  I rode up to the air pump, jumped off my bike and started to unscrew the cap and noticed it was a WAYY thinner valve than my old bike – what was going on? Once the black dust cap was off I had no idea what I was looking at – was this some kind of defect?  I didn’t even see anything that looked like a hole where the air would go into – just a weird little nubbin!  I stood there just staring at it – there was NO WAY I would be able to fill up my tires – that dinky little bike valve would never attach to the air pump.  I rode home totally confused. Continue reading