Perfect day, perfect gravel
With less than a month until the second annual Rothrock Trail Fest, perfect weather over the weekend, and a few hours free, it was time for some gravel course recon. This year's event offers up a 25-mile and a 50-mile option for the gravel riders with both groups setting off at 9AM on September 22nd. If you're not familiar with the course, keep reading and we'll give you a little taste of what's to come.
The race begins from the Tussey Mountain ski area which provides a great view of Mount Nittany. When you return from the ride, the Food Truck Festival and live music will be in full swing.
The asphalt of Bear Meadows Road quickly gives way to the gravel of Laurel Run Road as riders make the right-hand turn to begin the gradual climb. A classic forest hairpin turn leads to a slight kick in the gradient before the road mellows out again.
You'll know you are near the top of the first climb when you make the second hairpin turn and push through the last hundred yards or so. The latter half of Laurel Run Road will pass by quickly as you descend parallel to Laurel Run and pass a number of hunting camps.
As the road begins to pick up a little bit of elevation via some mild rollers, you'll pass by the entrance to one of three state parks within Rothrock State Forest, Whipple Dam. Unfortunately some time on the water will have to come another day as you make a left turn on to Greenlee Road where you will be greeted by some bigger rollers. As you cruise along, be sure to follow the arrows and stay left when passing the intersection with Beidleheimer Road.
Greenlee is the biggest climb of the day for the 25-mile course and can challenge even the best riders. When you see the sign noting that you are entering Bear Meadows Natural Area, you can celebrate a little and take comfort in knowing that the climbing on the short course is over. A right turn on to Gettis Ridge Road followed by a left on to North Meadows Road will lead to a nice long descent back to Bear Meadows Road and a quick spin on gravel and pavement to the finish.
Note that both distance options follow the 25-mile route until reaching Bear Meadows Road where the short course turns left to the finish and the long course turns right for a little more fun in the saddle. In the next post we'll cover the remainder of the long course.