Challenging Myself

Well, if I was looking for a challenge, I certainly found one. Today's route took me up Diamond Avenue to the Stockton Mountain Road. I turned left off Stockton Mtn. Rd. and onto the Rails to Trails, following it as far as I could go.

From what I saw on Google Maps, Rails to Trails eventually becomes the Club 40 road (aka Co Rd 42, aka the infamous Beryllium Road), but I've never gone the whole way before, so I was eager to see what the trail is like past the gate.

Easily, the most fun I had was riding on the Rails to Trails -- no cars, no potholes, no problem. However, you ever get that feeling, when you're all alone, that you're not really alone? As I rode past the Dreck Creek Reservoir, I started to get that feeling. Instinctively, I started riding a little faster, just in case someone was coming up behind me. A little faster, and a little faster still. Before I got into a full panic, I turned my head a little, just to see if anyone was there. Of course, it was just my imagination... until I realized that SOMEONE WAS THERE! I almost lost it, but I got the bike under control. "Hey, how's it going?" he said as he passed by.

I'm pretty sure I've seen him out there before, but what blew me away was how fast he was going. He must have more gears on his bike because he was pedaling about half as much as I was and I could barely keep up with him in my highest gear. Then again, maybe my thinner tires were biting into the ground more, building up more resistance while his wider, mountain bike tires were allowing him to ride over the surface of the loose gravel.

Eventually, I got to the gate where Rails to Trails technically ends. This is Beryllium Road, a paved roadway that runs from Stockton Mtn. Rd. and leads to a fenced off area that used be the old Kawecki-BerylCo beryllium factory. If you make a right at this gate, it takes you to the factory site (which has long-since been bulldozed and capped as a Super Fund site. All that remains are acres of empty land with some trees and brush growing on it.) I made a left.

As I passed through the gate, I saw the other rider turning around to head back. I immediately got the sense that I should have followed him. Maybe he knew something I didn't? Like, maybe there's a reason he doesn't ride on the paved road. Well, after riding on this "paved" road, I can certainly see why I might want to avoid it.

The pavement is beat to hell, just completely torn up -- it's almost as bad as most Hazleton roads, to be honest, but I digress. My skinny, 700c wheels were taking a pounding, the bike's suspension was definitely getting a workout, and every bone in my body was being rattled loose. This road sucked. And then, at the end of a long, painful climb, I reached the summit. Smooth, clean roadway. For whatever reason, this section of the road looks almost well kept and maintained. I seriously doubt it's being taken care of, as there's little reason to go back here, but it's definitely in good shape.

As I rode on, I could hear heavy machinery and get a view of the large strip mine operation going on back there. Eventually, I came to a gate that I couldn't ride through. I had to get off, pick up my bike and carry it around the narrow gap at the edge of the road. Welcome to Stockton Village.

I was now on Club 40 Road, at the intersection of Club 40 and Stockton Mountain Road. According to Google Maps, if I just follow this road, I'll wind up at Route 93, but now it was time to test that theory.

The traffic is very light on this road -- even compared to Stockton Mtn. Rd. -- but there's almost no shoulder, so if you get traffic coming both ways, things get very tight. Thankfully, I didn't encounter too many trucks or cars. As I continued, I had hoped I was right about this road leading to 93, but soon the "aroma" of the Kentucky Fried Chicken told me what I needed to know. It was taking me exactly where I expected it to.

From 93 to Cedar, and up Cedar (which becomes Seybert), I was nearly home. Just a few more miles to go, and that's pretty much where the adventure ends.

As I rode up my driveway, the odometer clicked over 12.845 miles. I said to myself, "There's my 20k. No problem." 20.6, to be more precise. The funny thing is, the MyFitnessPal app only asks for the amount of time you've been riding and the average speed. My average was a meager 8 mph (and that's with going nearly 30 mph on some downhill sections) over 87 minutes. The app takes no regard of the monster hills I had to climb, so I don't know how much attention I should pay to the 600+ calories it says I burned. There's a BMX/Mountain bike setting that doesn't ask for average speed, but that claims over 800 calories for the amount of time I was out there. That seems like a little too much, but my aching muscles are telling me it may be on the money. Either way, if it was a challenge I wanted, it was a challenge I got.


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