Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Bicycling from Punxutawney to Altoona PA. June 26

60 miles in 5:38.....After this ride, I had almost 10,000 ft of climbing in two days, with a long ride to follow tomorrow, so 60 miles was sufficient today. It's not like I had a lot of choice, because Altoona is pretty much out there by itself, with smaller towns that are no motels.  I've had two nights in a row where it was difficult to fall asleep also. Sometimes that used to happen to me when I was over training, so I'm chalking it up to not being in my best shape for this undertaking. I slept in sorta late, and didn't get out the door until about ten o'clock. Even at ten, the sun was shining on top of the hill, where the motel was, but as I rode back down into Punxutawney, the fog was still heavy, even though it was burning off. A good day to sleep in, I guess.
I followed PA 36 all the way to Altoona. It is actually a great road to ride through this mountainous area, with a nice surface and shoulder, and not a lot of traffic, even though there were quite a few tri axles and logging trucks. After ten miles of pretty good climbing, the terrain drops down to the west branch of the Susquehanna River, and runs conjoined with US219 through the small towns of McGee's Mills and Mahaffey. PA 36 eventually broke away from the more heavily traveled 219, and followed Chest Creek, ( even though I seldom saw it) and that kept things level(ish) for 15-20 miles, much to my leg's relief. (And surprise) a gradual, sneaky, climb then began in the town of Patton, which peaked out along a ridge, with about a dozen, huge wind turbines spread throughout corn and soybean fields, that looked like rolling lines, all across the ridge. I rode the ridge for a few miles, before a serious drop, and of course the corresponding major climb, which took me near Prince Gallitzin State Park, even though I never saw it.
I stopped and grabbed a Poweraid at a little store in the town of Ashville. Then the ascent of the day began. Steep and long, this climb would be a doozy in any state I've been in. It climbed 700 ft. in two and a half miles of purely straight road, that looked even further and steeper than it was. No switchbacks or even curves like most climbs, just straight, intimidating climbing. At the summit was the turnoff for the famous Horseshoe Curve, a semi circle climb that trains have to negotiate around Sideling Hill and the surrounding mountains of the region, just east of Altoona. The day ended with a one thousand foot descent into the town of Altoona. I popped out in downtown, with no motels, so I still had a little riding to do through town to get to the outskirts, where the motels are, near US 220.
I hit the salad bar at Eat N Park, took a walk, then iced down my quads for a potential century (100 miler) tomorrow, with who knows how much climbing through this Central Pennsylvania area. The legs felt pretty good, but I have really been using the granny gears, and not being in any great hurry as I cruise along.

Punxutawny Phil

Punxutawney Hotel (now closed) made famous in "Groundhog Day" with Bill Murray

Stage in downtown Punxutawney where Phil used to come out to see his shadow -  this venue has been outgrown

One of many Phil statues

Weather and time tree in Punxutawney

Patriotic Phil

Wind farm near Altoona


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