Tour de Shunk century ride report

Originally scheduled earlier in the season, the annual Tour de Shunk ride was postponed due to several roads and bridges still out from flooding this year. This was only my second supported ride, since I usually like to stay local and just ride from home rather than drive to a ride. Chris Rusin talked me into it though, and along with Dany Floss, we carpooled to the bike shop at the start of the ride. As we pulled up, we saw Bill F and Blaine from the Big Horn Velo club. As we grabbed food and put our bikes together, we also saw Mary Ann and Kyra leaving maybe 20 minutes before we did. Of the slightly more than 100 riders, Ithaca and Elmira seemed well represented on this ride.

The route is mostly one very large loop around the Loyalstock State Forest, with an out and back section from the start/finish. The ride starts with several rollers, but early in the ride they seemed even if they were more uphill than down. After a turn, the real climbing starts, and about 4 miles later we had climbed 1,000ft. With a speedy decent on decently paved roads, we made our way to the first checkpoint after Shunk, PA. Each station would have homemade cookies, bananas, bags of various chocolates, and gatorade. Dany had climbed quickly, and was leaving the stop by the time Chris, Bill, Blaine, and I approached it, and we caught up to Mary Ann and Kyra at this point too.

The next big climb was on a road after Hillsgrove – with ~650ft climbing in 1.8 miles. For most of my cycling experience, I had been using 39/53 cranks with an 11-23 cassette, but a few months back when I switched my parts over to a newer Fuji frame, I put on a 11-28 cassette. I miss a few of those gears in the middle, but having 39×28 certainly helps my knees on the hills. I still try to climb no slower than ~6-7mph, but now I can actually keep my legs spinning rather than cranking on it and having to always stand while climbing big hills.

Between Proctor and Barbours, this spur to the checkpoint showed a lot of the flood damage. Some roads were down to one lane, the other now occupied by a 20ft drop to the new route of a river. A few landslide from steep banks, and lots of large debris well above the current water level showed how much force this flooding brought.

I particularly liked Upper Bodines which parallels SR14 to Marsh Hill. It’s only about one lane wide, and we only passed a few cars on this 2 miles stretch of narrow road – unlike when we then continued on the state route with cars and trucks passing frequently. Interestingly, Chesapeak Energy (one of the rides sponsors and a natural gas drilling company) kept their trucks off the route on this day. I was glad to not have to contend with the reality of fracking traffic, but I hope they don’t expect applause from cyclists either, since the other 364 days of the year they will likely be on the roads and passing cyclists.

Chris and I finished about 7.5 hours after we started, with 102 miles on the GPS with 6250 feet of climbing.

Ride data is at http://ridewithgps.com/trips/423719 and http://app.strava.com/rides/2001731.

Just a few photos: http://abg.smugmug.com/Other/Tour-de-Shunk

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