Living with hills Part 3 -- Keeping up with a group PDF Print E-mail
Written by Paul Rito   
Thursday, 22 May 2014 16:30
Subtitle 1: Why do I always get dropped on a group ride?
Subtitle 2: How not to get dropped on a group ride!
Living with hills Part 1
Living with hills Part 2

If you've ridden with groups at all, one thing you've probably noticed is that the group either stays together well -- everyone riding at the same pace -- or it "rubber bands" -- stretches out with faster riders out in front, the main “peloton”, and the slower riders bringing up the rear, contracting when (or IF) the faster riders wait for the slower. 

The faster riders don't often wait. I found that out the hard way when I first started group riding. I would show up all enthusiastic and ready to go and within the first fifteen miles of a 50 mile ride, all I was following was the line on the pavement. The group had dropped me long before. Fortunately, I knew my way home and finished the ride vowing to keep up the next week. And the next week, it happened again. And the week after that. And the week after that...

However, what I did notice was that I was going farther each week before I got dropped, and eventually I was able to hang on and keep up.

So, one way to get better? Pick a group ride you know is faster than you, and try to stick with the group as long as you can. You will improve. A note on cycling etiquette, though. If you do pick a faster-than-your-ability ride to latch on to, be sure to tell the group leader and/or other riders you don’t expect them to wait for you if you get dropped. That lets them do their ride without worrying about you and you’ll be welcome the next time, rather than have the grumbling about that rider for whom they had to wait! If you’d rather have a more controlled improvement, read on.

I noticed it wasn't the big climbs where I lost the group. Most groups, except the very hard core, will wait at the top of a big climb to regroup. I was losing the group on the little rises and gradual inclines, where the group kept up their speed and I fell further and further back, unable to close the growing gap between me and the main group.

Now, group riding is very advantageous because you save 30% or more of your effort on a long ride. That's a big benefit, and it means you can go farther in less time. That leads to the ability to take longer and more varied routes, keeps you from getting bored with the same old routes, and you really get to know the back roads of your area.

That is, of course, if you can stick with them.

So, how do you get better and keep up? I already mentioned one way and that’s to just go and keep trying. But, you can also do a lot on your own.

You’ll need to find a loop route of 2-5 miles or so with enough undulating hills that are typical of the riding in your area. If you’re in the State College area, the Linden Loop is a perfect training track (Oak Hall to Linden Hall via Linden Hall Rd, and either turn around & repeat or for a more advanced training, return to Oak Hall via Rock Rd and Upper Brush Valley Rd. More on that below.).

Linden Loop -- lower loop profile
Linden Loop -- lower section profile

 There are four short rises along the section from Oak Hall to Linden Hall that are just enough to slow you down, and notice the whole distance is gradually rising. Your goal is to ride the section from Oak Hall to Linden Hall at a constant speed. What speed is that? Well, how fast does your group go? 12mph? 14mph? 16mph? etc… Pick a speed 2 or 4 mph under your intended goal, then give it a go.

As you ride the course, anticipate the coming rise and ready yourself for it. There are at least two ways to overcome these small rises: strategy or brute force. The strategic approach is to shift to a easier gear and increase your cadence – the speed your feet are rotating – just before you get to the rise. The change in gearing gives you a little more mechanical advantage and you’re shifting before you need to, so you can focus on moving your legs faster. The brute force approach is to stand up and power over the rise. Either works, so use the one that best fits your style of riding, or try both and see which works better for you. After you get over the hill, shift back to the harder gear and coast back to your target speed, but not faster – you want to “rest” and prepare for the next rise.

How did it go? Were you able to maintain your speed? If yes, bump up a mile or two an hour and try it again. If no, then back off a mile or two. Repeat this little exercise 4-5 times, and then take a nice, easy spin home and rest. Repeat this exercise two-three times a week until you’re at your desired speed. What you should find is that the little bumps seem to get smaller and that maintaining your speed gets easier.

What you are essentially doing here is intervals; small intervals, but intervals nonetheless. Next step? Try the whole Linden Loop, adding 4 more rises to your training. Now, it’s not likely (or necessary) that you’ll be able to maintain your speed on this section. Hill 5 is quite long, Hill 6 is quite steep, and hill 7 follows right on 6’s heels. The point is to get faster overall.

Linden Loop - upper section profile
Linden Loop -- upper section profile

As you tackle the longer and steeper rises, you’ll find the smaller ones “flattening out”. You can also improve your breathing and power by doing standard intervals (lots of references on the web for those). When you do get back to the group, try hanging out towards the end of the pack, but not at the very end – having another cyclist in front of and in back of you is the most advantageous place to be aerodynamically. Most groups will forgive you not taking a turn at the lead, especially if they know you’re struggling. Keep back and in a few weeks you’ll be ready to take a turn at the front.

Now, get out and keep up with that group!


Last Updated on Friday, 23 May 2014 12:06
2014 Bike Month Scavenger Hunt PDF Print E-mail

The Rules:

You may compete as an individual, with a partner, or as a team of 3 or more. All riders or groups must take a photo with their bikes at the designated locations. Some locations require you to leave your bikes parked nearby, however. Pictures need to be submitted throughout the month to Clay Chiles, Environmental AmeriCorps Member at State College Borough: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . If pictures match the clues provided, you will get that location checked off. These pictures will randomly be shared and celebrated through SCASD and State College Borough social media, including @BikeStCollege on twitter.

A top prize will be awarded in each category for the most locations ridden to between May 1 and May 30. Also, a raffle ticket will be given to each individual for every 5 locations. Raffle tickets will be used for various other prizes. Winners will be announced on May 31st at the Extravaganza! (see below)

Have fun exploring the SC area with your family and friends!

It's safe & easy to ride to, or safe & easy to ride at the chosen locations. It is certainly ok to drive to the far off locations when safety is a concern for younger riders. The spirit of the hunt is to encourage you to experience these places on a bike.

The Clues:

See them on a google map here!

1) Musser Gap Greenway

Did you know that the bike lanes on Whitehall Road will soon connect with Rothrock State Forest? Heard of Shingletown Gap? Musser Gap is just west towards Pine Grove Mills. The Musser Gap Greenway is under construction, but the farm lane that it will connect with comes out to Whitehall Road near Blue Course Drive. Imagine the beautiful community park going in those fields and a connection from town to one of Central Pa’s most beautiful natural gems! Take a picture on Whitehall road with the Tussey ridgeline in the background and you’ll check this one off the list.

2) Orchard Park

Ever wonder where Orchard Park got it’s name from? Take a ride on the bike path there and see if you can snap a picture of the answer. It’s ok, you don’t have to be an in’cider to know where.

3) Walnut Springs Park

It’s no wonder why this park is named the way it is. Look around, most of those trees there are Black Walnuts, with the musky smelling nuts littering the ground. The gravel path used to be the old farm lane and helped connect the farm that used to be here with the Centre Furnace. Can you find any evidence of the farm? See if you can take a picture of some history that’s foundational to the settlement of this region.

4) Lederer Park

Just up the hill from Walnut Springs Park, this is a nice place to picnic and learn about some different tree species. This land was graciously donated by a sculptor, who’s mother now looks over the park. Pose with her and say Thank You!

5) Spring Creek Park

You can ride over land but here you’ll have to walk over water. See where I mean and see some neat work that Trout Unlimited has done.

6) Circleville Park

Don’t have a backyard, but want to grow your own veggies? See if you can find a great place near this park to set up crop.

7) PSU Arboretum

You’ll have to dismount your bike while you explore these lovely gardens. You might even lose track of time. Don’t worry though, you can take a picture near something that’ll help you find it again.

8) Park Ave/McKee Street Crossing

This intersection is passed by many riding into town from Overlook Heights. And soon enough, the Park Ave crossing will be improved to make it easier for cyclists and pedestrians to cross. While you’re near there, see if you can find an easy place to do some bike repairs at the Stuckeman Family Building.

9) Bernel Park

Have you been to this newest of Centre Region parks? Let your imagination take flight here. Any fun photos riding around welcomed.

10) Fairbrook Park

This park is worth the drive (or ride if you want to enjoy the extra width of Whitehall Road!). If you ride to the top of the park, you might need a break. See if you can find a seat with a mountain view.

11) Military Museum

This popular place to walk and ride is at the end of the South Atherton Street bike path. Not far from here are the headwaters of Spring Creek. Find a place to cross the water; a way that you woodn’t want to ride.

12) Blue Spring Park

In the winter this park hosts an ice skating rink. Find where the water flows when its not so cold out.

13) Millbrook Marsh

Millbrook Marsh wouldn’t be such a great place to visit if not for the hardworking coordinators and volunteers there. Take a picture with one of them and thank them for their dedication.

14) State Collee Borough building

How do you get a leaf inside a lightbulb? Park your bikes and head to the third floor to see if you can find this symbol. While you’re up there, say “Hello” to our bike riding Mayor! Pictures with either work.

15) Rock Hill Schoolhouse

May 4th would be the day to take this picture! Head out to Linden Hall to see this renovated piece of history. Did you know about the Penns Valley Rails-to-Trail plan? It was looking to bring a path that could go right by here. Bonus point if the picture has when the school was built in it.

16) Blue & White bike path

Get on it from Corl Street or West Campus Drive, then head towards Blue Course. Don’t go too fast or you’ll miss what grows beside you. This ones for the patient pickers with a sweet tooth. Please don’t eat anything unless you positively know what it is!

17) Toftrees

There are a number of ways to get to Toftrees by bike, but there’s only one way that gets you under the Mt Nittany Expressway. Find the underpass and you’ll have this one checked off.

18) Haymarket Park

Ferguson Township is no stranger to bicycle infrastructure! With the Blue Course Bikeway next to this easy-to-ride-to park, its easy to forget how close you are to everything. Find the clue that gives you a sense of distance.

19) Bellefonte Central Rail Trail

This great path is the result of the hard work from several regional partners. Can you capture them all in one photo?

20) Galbraith Gap (Rothrock)

This is one of the primary “gateways” to Rothrock State Forest and gets you on miles of gravel roads and dirt trails to explore. You’ll find plenty of folks parking in the gravel parking lot beyond Tussey Mountain, heading out for hikes and mountain bike rides. Get a picture with one of them and tell them about the scavenger hunt!


4 ft Law featured in WPSU story PDF Print E-mail
Written by Paul Rito   
Friday, 04 January 2013 12:54

4' Law SignWPSU's Patty Satalia presents an interesting overview of Pennsylvania's recently enacted 4' law.

Click this link to listen: http://wpsu.org/radio/single_entry/LL-4468/stories

Our V.P. Brian Dempsey is interviewed in the piece about his experience with a recent bike-car accident.

Last Updated on Friday, 04 January 2013 13:01
Penn State a Bronze Bicycle Friendly University PDF Print E-mail
Written by Paul Rito   
Thursday, 29 November 2012 11:24
Penn State Campus was recently recognized as a Bronze Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists. As with the State College-Centre Region's recent designation as a Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community, the Bronze level award acknowledges a great effort to incorporate bicycles into the fabric of the region's transportation infrastructure. Better yet, it spurs the desire to continue to improve to Silver, Gold, or even Platinum, and that's good news for all Centre County cyclists. Congratulations PSU! 

To read the full story, click here! 
Last Updated on Friday, 14 December 2012 15:44
Touring Presentation Available PDF Print E-mail
Written by Paul Rito   
Friday, 19 October 2012 16:21

You can download and review the slides of our recent touring presentation here: 


Last Updated on Friday, 19 October 2012 16:22
Bike Month 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Paul Rito   
Tuesday, 01 May 2012 08:42
Stay tuned for Bike Month 2013 announcements, coming soon.

Centre Region Bicycle Coalition gaspumpcolor_loresand the State College Area School District Physical Education Department, in conjunction with the League of American Bicyclists are joining together to celebrate and support “Bike Month” in the Centre Region during May, 2012.

May 1-19, 2012 – Bicycle Scavenger Hunt

Everyone is invited to participate in a Scavenger Hunt here in Centre County. 50 places within a 15 mile radius of SC will be posted on the Centre Region Bike Coalition Website and on the SCASD PE Department Website, (links listed at end of announcement) on May 1. You may compete as an individual, with a partner, or as a team of 3 or more. A picture, either on a camera or phone or paper copy, showing the rider(s) and bike(s) at each destination on the list will be used to prove how many destinations each rider (or team) has visited. A top prize will be awarded in each category for the most locations ridden to between May 1 and May 19. Also, a raffle ticket will be given to each individual for every 5 locations. Raffle tickets will be used for various other prizes. You must bring pix, camera or camera phone with pictures on it, to the Bicycle Festival on May 19 for validation. Have fun exploring the SC area with your family and friends! Take those photos as you check off how many of the destinations you have visited here in Centre County by bicycle. See this list here: http://www.centrebike.org/articles/features/192-19-day-bicycle-scavenger-hunt-sites.html

May 1-31, 2012 – Elementary School Bicycling Activities

Elementary students will be issued “Bicycle Calendars” at their schools. They should color in a spoke for every day that they ride their bicycle at least 15 minutes. If that accumulates to 20 days or more during the month of May, they may bring their calendar to their PE teacher. A prize drawing will be held for eligible students.

Individual schools will be offering a variety of bicycling events during the month of May as well. Corl Street Elementary will celebrate Bike Day on May 9, with a Bicycle Tour de Corl Street supervised ride for students, faculty and interested family members. This will be a four mile ride starting and ending at Corl Street Elementary School.

May 6, 2012 - Linden Loop Bicycle Ride

Join us as we support the work to restore and maintain historic Rock Hill School. Register at 11:30. Ride at 12:30. Two rides are offered, a five mile and a twenty eight mile ride, starting and finishing at 111 Linden Hall Road, near Boalsburg. Cost to register is $20.00

Website for the event: http://rockhillschoolatlindenhall.blogspot.com. Register here: http://www.active.com/cycling/linden-hall-near-boalsburg-pa/linden-loop-walk-run-or-bike-2012

May 12 - NMBA's 2012 Spring Group Ride

Nittany Mountain Biking Association's 2012 Spring Group Ride will be held on Saturday, May 12th, at Tussey Mountain. This year along with NMBA members and other mountain biking clubs, we have invited the road bikers to join our festivities. Post-ride we will meet at the pavillion by the pond behind the go cart track, at 4pm for a picnic. Tussey Mountain has graciously given us the rental of the pavillion at no charge! More details here: http://www.centrebike.org/articles/news/193-nmbas-2012-spring-group-ride.html

Saturday June 9 Sunday May 13 - Street Skills for Cyclists Course Postponed. Rescheduled for June 9th

Do you feel intimidated on the road? This one day, nine hour course gives cyclists the confidence they need to ride safely and legally in traffic or on trails. Among the topics included are bicycle safety checks, maintenance tips, on-bike skills training and crash avoidance techniques. A student manual is included, and the day is concluded with a group ride to practice your newly-learned bicycle driving skills. This fast paced course is recommended for anyone 14 years of age or older.

Where: Videon Central, 2171 Sandy Drive, State College PA 16803
When: Sunday, May 13, 2012 Saturday, June 9, 2012
Time: 9 AM to 6 PM, Lunch will be provided.

Taught by League of American Bicyclists certified instructors Paul Rito and Chuck Anderson. For more information, or to sign up, visit http://www.centrebike.org/articles/features/190-street-skills-for-cyclists.html.

May 14-18, 2012 – High School Bike to School Week

Students will be encouraged to ride to and from the high school during the entire week.

Thursday, May 17, 2012- Middle School Bike to School Ride

On this date students will be riding to and from school from a variety of locations. Teachers at the Middle Schools will coordinate the rides at each school. Rain make up date will be Friday May 18.

At Park Forest Middle School there will be a bicycle based Scavenger Hunt through the Park Forest neighborhood on Thursday May 17. On Friday there will be a bagel breakfast for students who complete the Scavenger Hunt.

DestinationBusinessFriday, May 18, 2012 – National Bike to Work Day

Join our crusade and ride to work!!! Check out the Centre Region Bicycle Coalition website for details on discounts at various local businesses for folks who bike to work on this day. centrebike.org. CRBC also lists local cyclists who will help you figure out the best route for you to take to commute in to work. These Bike to Work Mentors are also listed at centrebike.org.

If you'd like your business to participate as a "Destination Business", see the details here; Destination Business 2012. For a list of participating businesses, click here!

Friday May 18 - Sunday May 20 - Bike To Worship Weekend

Bike to your favorite worship service May 18, 19 or 20. And it's a great way to get in touch with the wonders of creation (even rain is a wonder after all), do something emission-free for the earth and care for your body as well. Then Join us for a Sunday Picnic in the Park on May 20:

The Creation Care Coalition, PA-Interfaith Power and Light and Grace Lutheran Church are planning to meet at Sunset Park in State College from 1 pm to 4 pm for a potluck picnic. Bring your own sustainable place settings and a portable dish to pass. (Label any allergens please)

The afternoon will include a Bike Tour/Scavenger Hunt to local churches, leaving from and returning to the picnic at Sunset Park.

Saturday, May 19 Grande Finale Bike Rides and Bike Festival


Community Bike Rides, Mount Nittany Middle School(raindate,Sunday,May 20)

from Mount Nittany Middle School Parking Lot

23 miles – Organized and lead by the CRBC leaves at 12:30 PM

10 miles - Organized and lead by the CRBC leaves at 1:30 PM

4 miles – routes pre-arranged with maps available 1:30 – 3 PM

2 miles- routes pre-arranged with maps available 1:30 – 3 PM

Click here for route maps & cue sheets.


Bike Festival at Mount Nittany Middle School Parking Lot (3-5 PM)
  • Live Music, Food, Raffle Tickets and Prizes. We hope to have bicycling professionals who train at Woodward in attendance as well. Drawings and prizes @ 4:15 PM.
  • Bring a new bike tube of any size and/or some cash to donate to help finish up the Kallari Bicycle Project, a joint project of CRBC and Penn State Office of Sustainability. We will be collecting the tubes to send and cash to help shipping of the bikes to the children of the Kallari Cocoa Cooperative, in Tena, Ecuador. Check out the website at http://Centrebike.org for details about this project. Help us give the children of this community a good way to get to school, bicycling there rather than walking up to two hours each way.
  • Bicycle Scavenger Hunt Check-In @ 3 PM

Please join us by linking into one of the following pages for further information:

Bike Month Sponsors:

the_bicycle_shop_logo_lores catalogo eddies_logo_lores videonlogowhite
freezethawlogo Sports_Medicine_State_College_lores rbr-logo-crop
Mount Nittany Health
Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 March 2013 22:01
Videon receives Bicycle Friendly Business Bronze PDF Print E-mail
Written by Paul Rito   
Wednesday, 21 September 2011 09:53
Videon Logo

Congratulations to Videon Central, the Centre Region's first Bicycle Friendly Business!

Read the CDT story here: 


Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 September 2011 11:05
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