24 Hours in Valley Forge Pennsylvania
There is a longstanding TBD tradition that when a team member ties the knot we jump through hoops to fit bikes into the weekend. Often times this means a pre-ceremony spin as was the case last year in upstate Connecticut for Charlie's wedding (where we also did a pre-rehearsal dinner ride, got lost, and almost didn't make it to the dinner. Whoops).
This past weekend it was Tom's turn to get hitched - in Valley Forge, PA. We had a vague sense that the riding in the area was more than halfway decent so I reached out to Dan Chabanov, who may be the unofficial ambassador of Philly cycling for slightly confused New Yorkers like us. Dan reached out to a friend who delivered a terrific set of recommendations - a big thanks to Chabs for helping hand in making this two wheeled portions of the weekend possible.
Squeezing in a Saturday Spin at Valley Forge National Park
We started the weekend off at the crack of dawn on Saturday for the CRCA Club Series where I was woefully unprepared for race efforts and was thus unceremoniously dropped. Not the most reassuring start to the weekend. But as she often does Lisa proved once again who is the stronger racer in our marriage by taking the field sprint for 4th place before rushing home to throw our cross bikes, wedding attire and bulldog in the car for the drive down to Valley Forge with Burati.
Since our hotel was less than two miles from Valley Forge National Park we dumped our bags and with the countdown to Tom's wedding ceremony officially underway we rushed to start our ride at the park. Coming from New York City where most basic road rides entail fighting through traffic to escape to the 'promise lands' of 9W it was refreshing to stroll out of our hotel and almost immediately encounter wide open vistas and bicycle paths through the woods. While many of the trails in the park are closed to bikes we found plenty of paved/gravel bike friendly options (trail map) even if they were mostly on the tame side.
As we are wont to do, at some point we encountered an overgrown side path - and immediately dove into the unknown. That path led us out of the National Park but fortuitously delivered us to a twisting set of singletrack trails. It was a bit overgrown in sections but was shaded and delightful all the same, even if we had to run several sections and managed to soak our shoes in a creek crossing.
Eventually we emerged, completely lost in a suburban neighborhood. Thankfully Google Maps led us back to the National Park where we took advantage of a deserted Chapel Path trail to squeeze in some intervals along the Southern banks of the Schuylkill River. I may have led us a bit astray with an accidental railway crossing toward the end of the trail but we eventually found our bearings and made our way back to the park entrance.
With the countdown to the ceremony continuing we rushed back to the hotel and after a quick shower and change we managed to get to arrive to the wedding venue just in time for the festivities to kick off. The rest of the night was an absolute blur as we spent the evening lost in storytelling and laughter.
Back to the Singletrack
As you might expect, we got off to a slow start Sunday morning but with Roger joining in the fun we were destined to get shreddy. We considered driving toward Philly to take in some new trails but with Valley Forge National Park so close to our hotel we decided to repeat our Saturday loop and then freelance the rest of the ride.
In the end freelancing was the best part of the weekend as, after retracing our footsteps the day prior, we once again left Valley Forge National Park and found ourselves on an absolutely delightful stretch of singletrack that was notable for providing obstacles with multiple line choices, providing the ride a true sense of choose your own adventure. It was precisely what we were looking for and gave us plenty of opportunity to beat up our legs and practice our bunny hopping. And most importantly the tubulars that I rode all weekend due to poor planning on the equipment front held up throughout all of the punishment.
My early afternoon with cloudless skies, temperatures hitting 92 degrees and the ride getting watty we were pretty smoked. So as our ride hit two hours so we pulled the cord and headed back to toward the car, squeezing in a bit of technique (and wheelie) practice on the way.
And then Back to NYC
With a brief but terrific 24 hours in Valley Forge wrapped up, we jumped in the car, made our customary Wawa stop and arrived back in New York City just in time to wind the weekend down at a 2nd Avenue Street Fair. Not a bad way to spend just over 24 hours. Many thanks to Michelle and Tom for bringing us down to Valley Forge and congratulations again!
Glamour Shots with the Garneau Steeple-XC
Amidst all of the wedding festivities and trail riding adventures we also managed to grab a few shots of my Garneau Steeple-XC, fresh from the Rover Cycle Co's installation of a Quarq Powermeter with Wolf Tooth elliptical chainrings. We originally introduced this custom Garneau Dream Factory paint scheme on a snowy winter night but in bright summer light the bike truly shines -- at least until we covered it in mud and dust on the trails.