ALTOONA, Pa. -- Seems
you cant drive anywhere these days without dodging bicyclists.
Last weekend, police
stopped my car on New Jerseys Route 181, not exactly a rural byway,
to let marathon riders pass. Now, my 55-year-old neighbor has
declared himself in training for a bike race up New Yorks Hunter
Whats going on here?
A U.S. Department of Transportation survey shows that fewer than
30% of the driving-age public rode a bike even once in
One East Coast
cycling outfitter said there is pent-up demand after last years
rain. We didnt have a dry weekend [last year] until July, said
Murray Schrotenboer, owner of Grouseland Tours of Clearville,
Janet Jones, formerly
a 20-year travel agent with Pittsburgh International Travel and now
owner of Country Pedalers in Somerset, Pa., said the price of
gasoline has something to do with it. She has seen a surge in
reservations this year.
Her business, like
Schrotenboers, is within a tank of gas of Pittsburgh, Washington
On the Web, cycling
sites abound. A Google search turned up 1.97 million sites. Of
those, theres one that offers a true incentive to get your
triple-butted aluminum frame in shape.
Cycle the Southern
Alleghenies (CSA) is running a contest through Nov. 30 in which
three riders with the most accumulated miles are eligible to win
one of more than $5,000 in prizes.
Log Your Miles is
open to all who ride CSAs on- and off-road, self-guided routes or
some of the guided tours offered by Country Pedalers and Grouseland
CSAs more than 20 on-road
routes are rated moderate to challenging, and its 25 off-road
trails are labeled beginner to advanced. The routes can be ridden
in a day or can be combined for a multiday vacation.
Cyclists can register
on the Web site and log their miles there, as well. This is not
exactly an honor system: To be credited for mileage, participants
have to answer a secret question, hidden along the route, that
pertains to something on the tour.
CSA evens the playing
field for cyclists on challenging routes by offering the full
mileage of the route to anyone who answers the secret question,
according to Doris Mitchell, travel development program manager for
the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission.
(Mitchells the one who writes the questions, and, no, she didnt
give me any hints.) See the "Perfect Itinerary" box below for
an example of an itinerary for cycling clients designed by
First prize in the
contest is a $2,500 Cannondale bicycle; second prize is a $1,500
houseboat vacation on Raystown Lake in Entriken, Pa.; and third
prize is a $1,000 gift certificate for a selection of vacation
packages in the southern Alleghenies.
Agents who want to
book commissionable prepackaged or customized guided tours can
contact Country Pedalers or Grouseland Tours. The outfits are in
different counties and offer different itineraries.
all-inclusive weekend cycling tours explore the counties of
Somerset, Blair, Cambria and Bedford.
Somerset-to-Bedford tour, which operates into mid-September, begins
on a Friday night with a stay at the Country Pedalers-owned Glades
Half-mile hills and
half-mile dips, which are like a roller coaster ride, Jones said,
make up a Saturday trip to Bedford.
Once in Bedford,
riders check in at the Covered Bridge Bed and Breakfast, then relax
at the beach at Shawnee State Park. Sundays ride is on flat terrain
and visits nine covered bridges.
The tour includes
breakfast and a picnic lunch on Saturdays and Sundays, a
Friday-night dinner at the Oakhurst Tea Room in Somerset and
Saturday dinner at the Jean-Bonnet Tavern in Bedford.
The package is $299
per person. For groups, the 16th person is free. Commission is 10%.
Bikes can be rented for $45 for the weekend, but guests are
encouraged to bring their own. Call Country Pedalers at (800)
762-5942 or visit www.countrypedalers.com.
Grouseland Tours has
all-inclusive, three-day tours that take riders through Bedford and
The Covered Bridges
Ride visits five bridges that have been in use since frontier days.
The itinerary includes 17 miles of flat riding, two breakfasts, two
picnic lunches, two dinners, an overnight at a bed-and-breakfast
and a cabin stay.
There also is
kayaking on a mountaintop lake or a visit to Old Bedford Village.
Star-gazing by telescope and a talk on owls (Grouseland has its own
live owl) are unique features.
Attractions include a
15-mile ride along an abandoned turnpike, which takes cyclists
through two dark tunnels illuminated only by bike lights. Riders
also can experience Gravity Hill, where cars appear to roll uphill
and water appears to flow the wrong way. The package costs $300 per
person, commissionable at 10%.
Grouseland sells and
rents Cannondale bikes, tandems and kid carriers. Tour participants
get a 50% discount on rentals. Call Grouseland Tours at (814)
784-5000 or visit www.grouseland.com.
Destinations Editor Margaret Myre, send e-mail to [email protected].