Saturday, May 24, 2008

Thun Trail Ride

It was a beautiful day for a ride. Nice and sunny with the temperature in the 60s.

I haven't ridden the Fantom 29 since April 26. I usually mountain bike ride on the weekends but I have been busy or its been raining. The first weekend in May we went to Grove City College for my son's parent's weekend. The second weekend volunteer work at Good Works (a home repair ministry in Coatesville) and Mother's Day. The third weekend my daughter's graduation at Messiah College and some rain.

I still have been able to do some road bike riding in the morning's before I go to work. I did 78 miles since April 26th and I am up to 338 miles so far this year.

Today I rode 19 miles on Thun Trail from Birdsboro to Pottstown back to Birdsboro. This was my longest ride on the Fantom 29 and it performed flawlessly. The 29er is great for trails like this. I put the lockout on and was sailing along at 12 to 18 mph for most of the trail.

The Thun (pronounced Tune) Trail is part of the Schuylkill River Trail (pronounced SKOO- KILL) that will eventually be 140 miles long from Philadelphia to Pottsville, PA. For a map of the section I rode see :

The trail is not very well marked and the Birdsboro trail head not very obvious. I asked a guy who was outside the VFW hall on Rt 724 where the trail was and he gave me directions. I took a right on a side road next to the VFW Hall and then made a right on Armorcrast Road. This road is pretty beat up and is not the pretty part of town. There is a sewage plant and some old buildings and a power substation. To the west of the power substation is a dirt road, which is the start of the Tune Trail but it is not marked. You can park either on the street or right at the beginning of this dirt road behind the baseball field. There is a sign that says "Foul Ball Territory- Park at Your own Risk". There are a lot of trees there so I don't think it is very likely that your car would get hit. Also at the time there was no one on the field.

At this point the trail is cinder and dirt. At the beginning it is pretty wide, probably about 8 feet. But then after about 1 mile it is narrower and in some places just single track. At road crossings there are posts to prevent vehicles from entering the trail. There are usually 4 and they are just the width of my handle bars, so you really need to be careful riding through them.

Schuylkill is a Dutch word for hidden river. It is appropriately named for this trail as I did not see the river at all until mile 4.2 where you cross over the river on an old railroad bridge. The trail is nice and shady.

At mile 6.5 you leave Berks County and enter Montgomery County. The trail is paved and probably about 10 feet wide. It is well labeled. I like the cross road posts better. There were three with plenty of space in between. The trail was nice put I prefer a dirt trail for the Fantom 29.

At mile 8.5 you enter Pottstown River Front Park. There is about 1 mile of trails in the park then I turned around and rode back to Birdsboro. The trail is flat and I was able to average about 13 mph.

I think I could do this trail with my road bike when it is dry like today. The cinder trail is hard packed, smooth and I did not see any ruts. The trail also goes from Birdsboro to Reading for 10.8 miles with 4 miles sharing the road. Maybe a future ride.

This summer I do want to check out some other longer trails to really test the Fantom 29. I was thinking about Blue Marsh Lake (about 24 miles), The Perkiomen Trail (about 38 miles round trip). I would also like to check out Warwick County Park, State Game Land 43, Saint Peter's Village and French Creek State Park which are nearby.


Mark said...

Mike - I recently got a fantom 29 as well based on the price, components and some of the things I've read on the web such as your blog. I also got it primarily for exercise and appreciate all the review info you've provided. I had to order a new seatpost since the stock was too short (as you did) and I'm debating if I can improve on the handlebars (ie an adjustable stem). Thanks for the wealth of real world feedback.
Mark - a fellow engineer in IL

Mike said...

Mark- The other thing I am thinking about is installing bar ends. I like to have different hand positions like on my road bike. I will let you know how it works out.

Bradley said...

I'm looking for my first mtn bike and am currently looking at the 29er. What are the major differences between the 29er and the regular 26" rims. It looks as if id need to get a smaller frame as I'm 5'10". Thanks

Mark said...

Bradley - Mike probably has more experience with 26" MT bikes than I do. I only rode a 26er for a couple months. In my experience a 26er is easier to get rolling, but once you get a 29er rolling it seems to me to ride smoother and roll over rocks and tree limbs more smoothly. I can't say enough good things about my Motobecane. I have made some upgrades to mine much like Mike has. Thats the beauty of the Fantom - you can upgrade the components you want as your budget allows and you deem necessary.
Good luck with your decision. Mark