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August 22, 2019 / bikesbytesbites

Bicycling in State College PA

Yes, it’s a long drive to State College from the DC area (3+ hours) with no public transportation options. And you  really have to do it when school – Penn State University – is not in session, or the town population will increase by 47,000. So the weekend in August BEFORE freshman orientation is a great time to do some bicycling in and around State College

Tom organized the weekend (Friday – Sunday) with his usual attention to detail. A group of 20 of us were staying at the Wyndham Days Inn, the only sizable hotel in the downtown area, near the college campus.  A series of rides of varying lengths with multiple points of interest was planned for each day, with printed cue sheets and Ride with GPS routes available.

Friday, August 16 – Boalsburg PA

The Friday rides headed northeast starting from Boalsburg PA, about 4 miles east of State College. Unfortunately, Barbara and I got there too late to do one of the planned rides, but we did have a wonderful time exploring the start location — the Pennsylvania Military Museum.  I was very impressed with the tanks — like this Sherman tank — and armored personnel carriers exhibited on the grounds. I was even more impressed that Barbara could identify the tanks (without reading the info sheet) — a benefit of her time spent in the military.

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We had a late-ish lunch in historic downtown Boalsburg at Duffy’s Boalsburg Tavern: building: interesting; food: ok: service: non-optimal. After lunch we walked around town, doing some window shopping and checking out the other historic buildings, including a B&B with a gorgeous garden and patio.  Then we headed for State College.

We got to State College in time to unload our luggage and bikes and for me to go for a ride around town and the college campus.  The campus is huge! The downtown is compact, with some interesting stores and restaurants that will bear some exploring — later. You can tell it’s a hipster and/or college town.

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I’m really sorry I missed a special point of interest on today’s rides, Penn’s Cave and Wildlife Park.  You go through the caverns in a boat! Might have been just as well, since I would have had to dress for the 52 degree (year-round) temperature.

Saturday, August 16 – Southwest from State College

Today was the day for my “long” ride — “long” being relative. I decided to do the 48-mile ride (selected from 34-, 48-, 63-, and 82-mile options.) Great tour. It started by zigging through the Holmes-Foster-Highlands Historic District of State College, then left own and passed through a HUGE expanse of fields, many maintained by the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. Perhaps the college (or maybe it’s the local agricultural community in general) is stressing locally produced seeds and custom seed mixtures. But there were plenty of signs for larger corporations (such as Pioneer, owned by DuPont) as well.

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Lunch was at the Way Fruit Market, a combination store-farmers’ market.  They had locally grown peaches,  just at the peak of ripeness. And gorgeous cantaloupes which, alas, I couldn’t carry. (Hmm, but I didn’t see any of those growing. Driven in from the next valley over?) From there it was a quick return to town, this time zigging through the college campus.

After cleaning up, I had the chance to walk around downtown State College and do some shopping. The bike shop, Freeze Thaw Cycles, is worth a visit — tell Paul that Leslie sent you.  So is the outdoor outfitter, Appalachian Outdoors, on the next block.  The murals painted on the buildings were also attention getting.

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Sunday, August 17 – Northeast from State College

Today was going to be a short day, to allow time for the L-O-N-G drive home. It was short in mileage but long in hills; the shortest ride (35-mile) had some of the steepest climbs of the weekend. But the scenery was worth it. I have to admit, I went off route to explore the very historic (and very hilly) downtown of Bellefonte. But I was so concerned with the hills that I didn’t stop to take pictures of some of the magnificent Victorian buildings — both houses and government.  (Bellefonte is the county seat of Centre county.)

Conclusion

Thanks so much, Tom, for organizing this trip. I would love to return to State College to do some more exploration and cycling  — if I could convince myself to make the drive (and I wasn’t even driving!)

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