Last Saturday, about 90 riders gathered at Black Moshannon State Park for the second in-person Public Lands Ride. The morning was brisk but it quickly warmed up into a gorgeous fall day, with leaves beginning to turn brilliant shades of yellow, orange and red up on the Allegheny Front. Riders could choose from three different course distances — 25, 45 or 65 miles — and there were about an equal number of participants in each category. The routes all use mostly gravel roads in Moshannon State Forest, as well as some snowmobile trails and a few short stretches of local township or state roads.
The first Public Lands Ride took place in 2019 at the same venue, with the goal of bringing together cycling enthusiasts of all abilities to appreciate Pennsylvania’s public lands. For PEC , the importance of the Public Lands Ride really comes from getting Pennsylvanians to think and care more about the over 4,500,000 acres of public lands in the Commonwealth and how they relate to overall issues of conservation and environmental stewardship. Whether State parks or forests, game lands, or the Allegheny National Forest, these amazing assets house a great deal of our natural heritage and provide opportunities for a wide variety of uses – recreation high among them. PEC is committed to ensuring strong stewardship of all those resources in line with Article 1, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution and in ways that provide benefits for all Pennsylvanians, including generations yet to come.
The non-competitive aspect of the event and shorter distance options tends to draw some newer riders, but the long course is tough enough to satisfy even the most seasoned veterans. Aid stations along the way are chances for folks to refuel, take a break, and socialize. After the ride, participants had a chance to paddle the lake on a kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard.
Black Moshannon has a large campground as well as both modern and rustic cabins. PEC reserved the group camping area for the weekend, where about 20 people stayed over Friday evening before the ride and enjoyed a cookout and meeting other riders and volunteers.
A date for the 2022 Public Lands Ride hasn’t been set in stone yet, but we are tentatively planning it for October 1, again at Black Moshannon. In the meantime, check out some of the routes that we put together in different state forests across the state and follow @pecpubliclandsride on Instagram for updates.