We realized on Friday that there were only 77 days until the start of our tour, so we decided to ride 77 miles this weekend to kick-start our training. The weather in State College has been so awful that we have been taking the bus to school, bringing our riding time down to nearly zero. This weekend, however, was sunny and warm. Perfect!
We took off from school early on Friday and took a mostly peaceful 30 mile ride. At one point, however, we got chased by three very aggressive turkeys in the middle of the road! They were huge, with scary blue and red faces. As we approached we saw them try to attack a pick-up truck. We pedaled past as quickly as we could, but they pursued us for a moment even after we were safely away. That certainly got our blood pumping!
We rode a 47 mile loop on Saturday through farmland and small Pennsylvania towns. The wind was pushing us along for the first half of the ride, so we made excellent time on the way out. We stopped for lunch at a small church – yay for smoked salmon and bagels!
The terrain in central Pennsylvania is surprisingly varied, even in the valley that Penn State sits in. On one side of the valley lays an abundance of small hills divided by streams. On the other side the scenery is open and windswept. We certainly noticed the wind when we turned around and came out of the trees. A strong headwind accompanied us back.
My favorite part of the ride was stopping at a little country store just north of the small town of Centre Hall. They sell pickled eggs and beets for 50 cents an egg. Each egg includes one pickled beet. We stopped for a rest to eat the bright pink eggs.
During our tour, a 47 mile day will be typical, or even a little short, so we will need to get in shape to handle this kind of mileage regularly. We were tired by the time we got back home though, it is only the beginning of training after all!
We hope to start doing overnights in late March when the weather is better and we return from a spring break trip out west. Until then, we will try to fit in day rides anytime the roads are clear.
Here is a map of the route, for the interested.