Pennsylvania Rail-Trail Sojourn Countdown (How to Prepare for a 200-Mile Bike Trip)

Posted 06/19/15 by Katie Harris in Trail Use, Building Trails

RTC 2014 Pennsylvania Rail-Trail Sojourn | Photo by Katie Harris

RTC’s Pennsylvania Rail-Trail Sojourn is a few days away!

How have I prepared for this awesome 200-mile, six-day ride? Let me count the ways…

1I read through the event ride guide.

Not only did I clarify where I need to show up on the first day (and confirmed that my coffee habit will be well taken care of), I also learned about the town of Dunbar, where we’ll be staying for two nights. Dunbar sits on the Sheepskin Trail and is ready for a trail-town revival. I can’t wait to see what Dunbar’s all about and how the development of the Sheepskin will transform the community!

2I took my bike to the shop for a checkup.

The salt, grit and grime from winter came off last weekend when I gave my bike a thorough cleaning. But I needed new brake pads and also thought it would be a good idea to let a professional give my trusty steed the onceover. Now I’ll be rolling along the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) with confidence that everything’s working the way it should.

Photo by Cleo Fogel

3I’ve packed, unpacked and packed again.

For some folks, packing is more fun than the actual trip. That’s not true for me, but I still want to make sure that I’m bringing the right gear. This year, I’ve made a vital addition to my sojourn packing list: a fishing rod. I can’t wait to join the fishermen on the banks of the mighty Youghiogheny River, which the GAP parallels! Those Pennsylvania trout better watch out…

4I’ve purchased my “must-have” snacks to power me up when my energy is waning.

I have a confession: I’m addicted to peanut butter. That stuff powers me day in and day out. And while the food on the sojourn is always delicious, I like to have something in my back pocket that I know will get me through when I still have 10 miles to go before camp.

5I’ve thought about all the things I’m going to learn.

One of the greatest things about the sojourn is getting a peek into the trail development world. Often, we get wrapped up in the pure enjoyment of using trails, but an incredible amount of work goes into building them! On the trip, I’ll get to meet members of the Montour Trail Council, learn about the progress on the Pinkerton Tunnel and hear about what it will take to build out the Sheepskin Trail. I love learning about the challenges behind trail development and thanking the local folks who are working hard to get the trails we love off (or on!) the ground!

Photo by Jim Brown

6I’ve prepared for the worst, but I’m hopeful for the best!

I always pack a rain jacket even if the forecast is clear skies. You just never know what Mother Nature will throw your way. That being said, I’m confident that any rainstorm will be small potatoes compared to the great time I’m having on the trail.

7I’ve worked myself up over the “unknowns.”

This isn’t my first rodeo, but on every trip, there will be unforeseen things that come up. Will I get a flat tire? Will I have to camp next to the loudest snorer? What if I forget my headlamp? Will my fellow riders be interesting?

8I’ve eased my concerns by reminding myself how much FUN it’s going to be!

The sojourn is an adventure, and this year, I get to share it with nearly 300 other trail enthusiasts from 42 states! The unknowns are irrelevant when I think about all the great experiences that I’ll come home with after the week is done.

Keep track of our journey by following RTC on Facebook! We’ll occasionally post updates throughout the week with stories and photos from the trail. Here’s to a great sojourn!

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