Friday, August 29, 2008

Blue Marsh Lake Odyssey

Today I rode 35.2 miles at Blue Marsh Lake. The Fantom 29 performed flawlessly and it was an extremely good workout. For those of you familiar with Blue Marsh know that the loop trail is about 29 miles. Getting lost adds another 6 miles. This is the first time I rode Blue Marsh.

I debated on whether to ride Blue Marsh because the weather called for a "few showers". The temperature was perfect--- about 70 degrees. Most of the ride the rain held out. There was some "sprinkling" after I had ridden about 15 miles (the point of no return). The sprinkling was rather refreshing. Of course it started to rain hard after I got lost after 26 miles.

This is the start at the Stilling Basin parking lot off Palisades Road.

The ride started out great. I brought 108 ounces of water and some snacks. I figured I would complete a water bottle every 5 miles and have some snacks at the 10 and 20 mile mark. This all went according to plan. The trail is mostly dirt, gravel or old macadam roads. There is also some single track. The trail is generally well marked except where the streets cross the trail and some of the parking areas. It took me a little while to find where the trail continued.

There also were some pretty big hills throughout the trail. This one on the left is an example. Very steep with some railroad ties for erosion control. I had to walk up hills like this. There were also a couple of downhills I walked because they were just too scary.
This little guy posed for pictures. I stopped on the trail no more than 10 feet from him. He didn't move at all for several minutes while I took pictures.
Also at mile 15 where the trail crosses Church Road I decided to take the full lake loop. You can cut off about 7 miles by just riding down Church Road to the other side of the lake. This was a big mistake as the hills at this point were very steep and I probably end up walking most of this portion.

The hill.
This was the top of the hill about mile 17.

This was about mile 21-22.

When I passed mile 26 there was a sign pointing to the day use area and to the main hiking trail. I took the route marked the main hiking trail but ended up going into a big circle which I didn't realize until I completed the circle. It also started raining pretty hard at this point.

When I reached the top of hill where the yellow gate was I followed a dirt road. After following this road for a while I figured I was lost. I have google maps on my cell phone so I took a look at where I was. It indicates my GPS position usually within 3 meters. I was on Penn Bern Road and I was actually leaving the park. I figured I should take the roads back to the Stilling Basin . This road took me out to Rt 183. I made a right and then made a right onto Palisades Road. After about 2 miles I got to the Stilling Basin access road.
Although I got lost, I did complete the entire loop (and then some). I wanted to do the Blue Marsh loop because of the challenge. It took way too long. The next time I do Blue Marsh I will take the Church Road short cut. I would definitely do it again.
Final ride stats:
35.21 Miles
Max Speed 28 MPH
Average Speed 7.1 MPH
Ride Time 4:58:09
Total Time including Breaks: 6.5 hours

1 comment:

mtmiller302 said...

Mike - great report. I got lost at the same spot during my first ride there. I love riding at BM and have an improved trail map - email me if you'd like a copy. Also, we're about the same age, share the same occupation, and have the same name, and I ride a 29er too, so let me know if you're going to BM again and want some company. I'll do the same.

Mike in Downingtown PA