Presque Isle State Park Bicycle Ride

It is the start of the Memorial Day weekend.  Bob and I went bicycling at Presque Isle State Park.  We rode almost 8 miles on the Karl Boyes Multi-Purpose National Recreation Trail, which wasn’t the entire trail.  It was a bit chilly for a bicycle ride, and it began to rain.  We plan to return to Presque Isle another day this weekend.

Bob and I at the Presque Isle Waterworks

We crossed over to the lake side of the peninsula at the Waterworks.

On the beach at Presque Isle State Park

We crossed over to the bay side, when we neared where we had parked our car.  Whenever we go for a bicycle ride at Presque Isle we park at the first vista parking lot, after passing through the entrance gate.

Bicycle Ride Around Lake Wilhelm

We got a later start than on Saturday, but we went on another bicycle ride on Sunday.

We departed home at 8:40 am en route Lake Wilhelm, located at Maurice K. Goddard State Park near Sandy Lake, PA.  We arrived at the Lake Wilhelm Road trail parking lot at approximately 10:30 am and began our bicycle ride shortly afterward.  

Lake Wilhelm Road trail parking

The John C. Oliver Multi-Purpose Loop Trail is 12 miles long.  The paved, predominantly off-road trail is a pleasant, largely wooded loop around the northern and southern shores of Lake Wilhelm.  The Lake Wilhelm Road trail parking lot, where we began our ride, is located on the lake’s north side.  This location was a good place to begin our ride around the lake, as the mileage count begins here.  The trail on the lake’s north side contains several sharp bends and short, steep runs that were challenging. Bob referred to the northern portion of the trail as a roller coaster ride. 

Lake Wilhelm trail
I had to walk my bicycle up some of the hill climbs.
We stopped briefly at this shelter to enjoy the tranquility.
The trail was not heavily traveled the day we rode our bicycles.
In fact we had the trail to ourselves much of the time.
Serenity!
We stopped briefly at the Lake Wilhelm Dam, which is about the halfway point around the lake.

The trail on the lake’s south side, some of which shares Creek Road, was much less challenging than the north side, with the exception of one hill climb.  There is a choice there, though, to follow the trail up the hill or stay on Creek Road.  I stayed on Creek Road, as I had my fill of hill climbs by then!  Bob chose to follow the trail up the hill. 

We stopped for a snack and a rest break at Boat Launch No. 1, along the south shore of the lake.  Our snack was whole grain peanut butter sandwich crackers. 

Boat Launch No. 1

Picnic areas are abundant and restrooms can be found at each of the four boat launches around the lake. 

While resting, I took several pictures of a tree swallow that was sitting on a tree branch. 

Tree Swallow
Hello Human. What are you doing down there?

 

I had just packed up my camera, when wouldn’t you know it, here comes an eagle soaring across the lake.  

Later, during our ride, we saw two osprey at their nest.  I didn’t take any pictures of the eagle, but I did take several pictures of the osprey.

Osprey in Flight
Osprey on Tree Branch
Osprey on Nest
Osprey Looking at Me!

I stopped riding at the marina, shortly before the bridge on Lake Wilhelm Road that crosses over the lake. I just didn’t feel like riding anymore.  Besides I had already ridden 12 miles–the distance around the lake.

Lake Wilhelm Marina

Bob rode from the marina rest of the way to the car, put his bicycle on the carrier and drove over and picked up me and my bicycle.  

We rode bicycles around Lake Wilhelm one time before, in June 2017.  The bicycles that we rode in 2017 were folding bicycles.  I expected the trail to be easier with our Specialized bicycles than it was with our folding bicycles.  It was easier, but still strenuous.

We were en route home at 1:45 pm.  We made two stops on the way home.  Both stops were in Titusville, PA.  We made a fuel stop at Sheetz and a lunch stop at Burger King.  We returned home around 4:00 pm.

What a great workout we had on our bicycles this weekend.  We rode 12 miles round trip on Saturday on the Allegheny River Trail and another 12 miles on Sunday.  Saturday’s ride (on a predominately flat surface) was much, much easier than Sunday’s ride!

Where will we ride next?  Stay tuned!

Allegheny River Trail: Emlenton to Rockland

We departed our home in Warren PA at 7:30 am en route Emlenton PA and the Allegheny River Trail.   We arrived on Main Street in Emlenton at 9:05 am.   We followed signs to the Allegheny River Trail.  Road signs pointed us onto the bike trail.  Bob was hesitant to drive on the bike trail.  I encouraged him to do so, and we came upon a parking area quickly.  The Allegheny River Trail is 28.2 miles of flat, smooth, asphalt surface from Emlenton to Franklin.  We chose to bicycle only a portion of the trail, from Emlenton to Rockland Tunnel and back. 

The beginning of the trail is bordered by a white fence for a short time.
Soon the trail is between the Allegheny River and a wooded hillside.
Seen from the trail
Note the 1917 date on the tunnel.
Dotter Access Area
Dotter Access Area. There are beautiful views of the river along the trail. This is one such view.
Dotter Access Area seen from the trail
Rockland Tunnel

The 2,868-foot Rockland Tunnel is pitch black.  Reflectors mark the trail edges and center.  We had strong flashlights mounted on our bicycles.  Bob rode through the tunnel; I didn’t.  Almost as soon as I entered the tunnel, I began to feel claustrophobic.  My arms and legs tensed up, and my balance felt off.   I stopped and turned my bicycle around.  As soon as I could see the light at the tunnel entrance, I began to feel better. 

I walked inside Rockland Tunnel a little ways to get this picture.
Bob has returned from riding through Rockland Tunnel.
We stopped at this bench for a short rest, while on our way back to the Emlenton trail head.
We enjoyed this view, while sitting on the bench.
I took this picture facing away from the bench.

I rode 11.12 miles round trip.  Bob rode a little more than me because he rode through the tunnel and back.  It was 11:37 am, when we completed our ride.

It was an excellent day for a bicycle ride.  It was overcast, and the temperature stayed in the upper 50s to lower 60s.

We plan to ride more of the Allegheny River Trail later this year.

Meeting Bob on His Way Home From Work

Shortly after 3:00 pm I decided to ride my bicycle to meet Bob on his way home from work.  I need to get some bicycle miles under my belt before we begin long trail rides.  I rode from my house to Morck Park, via the Warren to North Warren Bike Trail. 

Morck Park

I wasn’t at Morck Park for too long before Bob showed up.  He didn’t know I would be there and started pedaling past me, before I called his name.  It is a little over a 2-mile round trip from home to Morck Park and back.

Meeting Bob on His Way Home From Work

I went for a bicycle ride this afternoon.  I rode the Warren to North Warren Bike Trail to Morck Park and back home.  I waited in a sunny spot for Bob along the trail, until he arrived on his way home from work.  

This is my favorite spot along the Warren to North Warren Bike Trail. The view across Conewango Creek is picturesque, regardless of the season.
Me, waiting for Bob to come home from work … waiting in a sunny spot.
My bicycle and Bob’s new bicycle

We rode home together.

Samuel Justus Recreation Trail

This afternoon we went for a bicycle ride on the Samuel Justus Recreational Trail. 

Samuel Justus Recreational Trail

We rode the portion of the trail that runs between the Franklin and Oil City trailheads.  We began our ride at the Salt Box Visitor Center, located at the Franklin Trailhead.  We ended our ride at the water treatment facility, located at the Oil City trailhead.  Total distance between the two trailheads is 5.3 miles.  

Franklin Trailhead

There is a seamless transition to the Allegheny River Trail from the Franklin trailhead.  The Allegheny River trail extends from the Samuel Justus Recreation Trail in Franklin south to Emlenton. Farther south, a disconnected segment of the trail stretches 3 miles between Foxburg and Parker.  The total length of this trail is 32 miles, but there are several jumping on locations along the trail, which means you can ride this trail in segments.  We hope to ride the Allegheny River Trail some day, most probably in segments.

There are picturesque views of the Allegheny River all along the Samuel Justus Recreation Trail.
There are benches along the trail that invite you to sit and soak in the picturesque view.
Joseph Sibley’s River Ridge

The stone gate for River Ridge Farm was built in 1913 for Joseph C. Sibley, who made his money in the oil refining and animal breeding businesses. He later became a five-term congressman, first as a Democrat and then as a Republican.

Joseph Sibley’s Mansion
Oil City Trailhead

The Samuel Justus Recreational Trail does continue into Oil City, ending at the Oil City Marina. We turned around at the Oil City Trailhead and returned to Franklin.

Bob had an epiphany today.  Motorcycle riding doesn’t hold the interest to him as it has in the past.  He is enjoying riding a bicycle much more.  The pace is slower, and the health benefits are great.  I am enjoying bicycle riding for the same reasons, plus I get to participate in the activity rather than just be a passenger.

The Power of Believing in Yourself

Do you know the story of The Little Engine that Could?

An early version goes as follows:

A little railroad engine was employed about a station yard for such work as it was built for, pulling a few cars on and off the switches. One morning it was waiting for the next call when a long train of freight-cars asked a large engine in the roundhouse to take it over the hill “I can’t; that is too much a pull for me,” said the great engine built for hard work.

Then the train asked another engine, and another, only to hear excuses and be refused. In desperation, the train asked the little switch engine to draw it up the grade and down on the other side. “I think I can,” puffed the little locomotive, and put itself in front of the great heavy train. As it went on the little engine kept bravely puffing faster and faster, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”

As it neared the top of the grade, which had so discouraged the larger engines, it went more slowly. However, it still kept saying, “I–think–I–can, I–think–I–can.” It reached the top by drawing out bravery and then went on down the grade, congratulating itself by saying, “I thought I could, I thought I could.

This little engine knew the power of believing in yourself and how doing so can push your performance.

Saturday’s bicycle ride didn’t go so well.  Bob suggested going on a bicycle ride the next day.  I didn’t know if another bicycle ride so soon would bode well for me, but I agreed to go anyway.

The bike trail that we chose to ride was the Oil Creek Bike Trail, a paved bicycle trail through Oil Creek Gorge.  The trail follows the path of development of the oil industry in the 1860’s. The story is told via interpretive signs along the bike trail. The Oil Creek Bike Trail is 9.7 miles one direction.

Whoa!  If you read my previous blog post, you know that I didn’t do well on a 3-mile bike ride.  Now I am about to attempt an even longer bike ride.  Distance wasn’t a factor.  I knew that I could ride as far as I felt comfortable, turning around whenever I felt the need to do so.  I also knew if I made it to the end and couldn’t make the return trip that Bob was capable of riding his bicycle back to the starting point.  He could drive the car to the other entry point and pick up myself and my bicycle.  Time wasn’t a factor.  I could pace myself and take all day to ride whatever distance I chose to do.

We drove to Drake Well in Titusville PA and parked in the bike trail parking lot. We rode our bicycles from Drake Well, south, to Petroleum Center.  Bob utilized the MapMyRide app, which traced our route.

 

The ride south is very easy, once you climb the hill out of the parking lot.  The trail levels out, and there is a gradual down slope.  I walked my bicycle most of the way up the hill.  I rode rest of the trail, stopping only for photo opportunities.  The down slope of the south bound trail, however, did concern me.  I mentioned it a few times to Bob.  He kept telling me that the trail was level.  At one place on the trail, where I told Bob that I was coasting downhill, he suggested that I turn around and ride towards the north.  I didn’t have to expend much, if any, effort to bicycle north.

The following pictures were taken during our south bound ride.

Oil Creek

We rode awhile before we encountered a nice view of Oil Creek.
Bob says the trail has changed since he last rode it.
The vegetation has grown, obscuring views of the creek.
That would be expected, as it was 25-30 years ago that Bob last rode the trail!

The Drake Well Marathon & Half Marathon event, in its 11th year, was being held at the same time that we were on the bike trail.  I read somewhere that this marathon is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon.

We shared the bike trail with marathon runners.

One of the refreshment stops along the trail had a unicorn theme.

Bob’s recollection of this trail from 25-30 years ago had Oil Creek on his right, not left, side.

When we crossed the bridge in the distance, the creek moved to our right side.

I am glad that my Olympus camera, along with the 40-150mm lens can accompany us on bicycle rides.

We saw a great blue heron from the bridge.

Bob on the bridge

Bob took this picture of me on the bridge.
Note my attire.

I believe my attire is better suited to the weather than the jeans and t-shirt that I
wore during my previous ride at Allegany State Park.

What a lovely view from the bridge!
There is a railroad bridge in the distance.

I wish we could have timed our ride for when the Oil City & Titusville (OC&T) Railroad train would have passed over this bridge.  Bob and I rode the OC&T Railroad train about 4 years ago.

Railroad Bridge
The trail goes under the bridge.
Go slow so you don’t wind up in Oil Creek!

We began our ride at 10:45 am and arrived at Petroleum Center at 12:30 pm.

After eating a light snack at a picnic table at Petroleum Center, we turned around and began our ride back to Drake Well.  My mantra (Thank you for the word that I was looking for, Stacey) the entire ride back to Drake Well was “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”  By the way it helps a lot having a writer in the family, when you are at a loss of words.

The Oil Creek Bike Trail at its southern terminus
The Railroad Bridge

The shadows under the railroad bridge attracted Bob’s attention.

Railroad Bridge with Oil Derricks in the Background

Bob and I under the Railroad Bridge

If only we could have planned our ride to coincide with the OC&T Railroad train schedule!

A lovely spot to soak in the beauty of Oil Creek

There are benches located all along the trail.
We saw two shelters along the trail as well.  I didn’t think to photograph one of them.

The hill down to the Drake Well parking lot was a very welcome sight.  As I flew down that hill, my thoughts were “I thought I could, I thought I could.”  The trail running from Petroleum Center to Drake Well does require some effort, as there is a gradual (very gradual) incline.  I had to make a few rest stops on the way back to Drake Well.  I had to walk my bicycle a little bit too. I didn’t get overheated; my chest didn’t hurt: I didn’t get out of breath; and I didn’t feel weak or faint, as I did during yesterday’s ride around Red House Lake in Allegany State Park.  It was a great ride!

We returned to Drake Well shortly before 3:00 pm.

My bike odometer recorded the trip as a distance of 19.22 miles.

This is the farthest I have ever ridden my bicycle, although I did come close when we rode around Erie’s Presque Isle in September 2016.  The bike trail around Presque Isle is 13.5 miles long.  We hope to do that loop again, one day soon.

My maximum speed during this ride was 17.5 miles per hour.
Guess where?
The hill down to Drake Well of course!

One last picture .. how hot was it?

Our car displayed an outdoor temperature of 95°F, when we returned from our bicycle ride.
It was probably 15° cooler on the wooded trail.

I definitely feel that I got some exercise.  Yesterday my leg muscles were hot and humming.  I was so tired.  Soon after returning home I fell asleep on our reclining chair, until inner thigh pain bolted me upright and out of the chair.  A hot shower, massage and Valium relaxed those throbbing muscles, allowing me to sleep through the night.  Today I went for a short bicycle ride.  I felt the expected muscle ache. I didn’t push myself.  I rode easy.  I know I need to rest, and I will rest the remainder of today and tomorrow.  I hope to ride again later in the week and the weekend, increasing my distance each ride.

I would like to ride the Oil Creek Bike Trail again. Early fall would be a good time.  We will enter the trail, though, at Petroleum Center and ride north.  I would much prefer to bicycle the gradual incline, when fresh rather than after riding 9 miles!

Reflecting back, I feel glad and proud that I was able to complete the Oil Creek Bike Trail in both directions.  As it was for the little engine that could, I believed in myself and pushed my performance.  I changed my mantra from “I think I can” to “I thought I could”.

 

 

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