After three days of riding the Mid Atlantic Back Country Discovery Route my riding buddy Nathan and I would start the last three sections of the route from the town of State College, Pennsylvania. Initially, we weren’t planning on spending the night in State College let alone at a hotel but a tire issue on my bike late in the day on section 7 forced our hand. Starting off our fourth day on the MABDR we were fortunate that State College wasn’t too far off the route and in less than an hour we were off pavement and continuing our march up the Appalachian Mountains.
Up to this point of the trip the weather had been on our side however, that was quickly about to change. After our first fuel stop just inside Decker Valley, we noticed that the sky was rapidly darkening, and rain was imminent. Fortunately, we were able to get our wet weather gear on before the sky opened up and released a torrential downpour on us.
For a few hours we slogged our way up and down ridgelines and mountains through central Pennsylvania before the weather finally broke just outside Bald Eagle State Forest. With the storms now behind us we were able to take advantage of the scenic vistas that overlooked an endless sea of mountains and valleys. As we wound our way through the area, we decided to take an expert section that was quite interesting. For three miles we rode down an old abandoned two track road that was filled with ruts and rock ledges. We didn’t have any issues traversing down the expert section and with two larger heavier bikes we did just fine.
As we descended into the Susquehanna River Valley, we made our last fuel stop just outside of my old college stomping grounds of Lock Haven. From here we fueled up the bikes and then ourselves with Red Bull and beef jerky and decided to make the final push into Section 8 with the goal to stay the night near the village of Cedar Run in the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. I’ll be honest, at this point the rest of the day was a blur as we hammered down some serious mileage and we continued to push north. Since we rode for over 10 hours and were exhausted from the weather and the days riding, we decided to stay the night at a motel in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania.
The next morning, we were up and ready to go at daybreak and cranked out the last seventy miles of Section 9 in no time. As we pulled into the town of Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania and to the endpoint of the MABDR at the New York border we had accomplished an amazing ride. Over the course of five days, we had ridden 1,052 miles through five states up the Appalachian Mountains. After a few photos at the border, we went to nearby Dana’s Cafe and had a hearty breakfast before we went our separate ways. Nathan was under a significant time crunch to get back to Charleston to help his fiancé with wedding preparations, so I decided to head to my grandmother’s house which was an hour away to rest up and do some much needed laundry before I rode back down to Charleston.
For me this was my third Back Country Discovery Route and it’s slowly becoming one of my favorites. Previously, I rode my Kawasaki KLR on the Colorado and New Mexico Back Country Discovery Routes and while riding through the Rocky Mountains and high desert valleys has its appeal, I just didn’t fall in love with those routes. Maybe it’s because I spent so much time in the Colorado back country training while I was in the Army that the Rocky Mountains lost their luster and beauty to me or maybe it’s the large amounts of jeeps and side by sides that seem to multiply in large numbers every year. The Mid Atlantic Back Country Discovery Route was kind of like going home in some respects. Many of the areas that I rode through I had been to previously when I was kid on camping and fishing trips with my family. The Appalachians while smaller than the Cascades or Rockies have their own unique set of challenges and are perfect to be experienced on two wheels. Back Country Discovery Routes did it right when they created the first BDR on the East Coast and I look forward to possibly going back to where I grew up in New England and ride the New England Back Country Discovery Route.