S24HO is bike slang for Sub-24-Hour-Overnight. It’s like a mini-vacation on your bike that makes the weekend seem about twice as long. This weekend was our fist overnight with the new bicycles, and they did not disappoint!
We left the house at nearly 4:00 in the afternoon, bundled up against the cold. Part of the goal for this mini-trip was to see how prepared we were for cold conditions.
Within moments of leaving the parking lot we realized we had forgotten the bicycle pump and had to return for it. We were laughing at the ridiculousness of it, but there was no way we would venture into the Pennsylvania forest without it!
The ride out was pleasant, and we soon were on dirt and gravel roads in the nearby state forest. We climbed over a ridge very slowly, enjoying the low gears on our bikes. At the top we met another cyclist as we pulled all our gear back on for the descent. He warned us of a porcupine in the middle of the road ahead, but by the time we got there it had gone. Awaiting us was an even better surprise: a fantastic sunset framed by the valley ahead.
In the waning light we hurried to our designated campsite – a picnic table and firepit in a small field. There are lots of hidden (and free!) sites like this in the State Forests. Technically, you should call ahead and get a permit, but no one is crazy enough to use them in November, so we didn’t bother to. We quickly got a fire going and started cooking our dinner. The fire was slow to light, but surprised us with its vigor once we got it going! It was certainly worth it to have hauled the firewood all the way in…
I only lit the picnic table on fire for a brief moment as I prepped the stove for dinner. Oops!
We were in the tent early, and our 20 degree down bags were more than adequate. Plus, we
were both wearing two pairs of pants, hats, and multiple shirts. The morning seemed almost warm despite being in the low forties. We rode out of the valley and through the lovely late autumn woods before climbing back out of the ridge and then descending quickly into State College. It turns out that our 30 mile S24HO had 2,350 feet of elevation gain! Not too shabby for the first time on our loaded bikes. We are already looking forward to our next excursion.