Albert Einstein once said, "Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving."
Mountain bikers are a unique group who can appreciate the challenge of keeping their balance while moving through the great outdoors: climbing hills, crossing streams and enjoying the beauty of nature around them.
Now, those off-road riders are rejoicing over the brand new Alegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake, which opened to the public over weekend. Among the 350 adventurers to try out the new trails was Maurice Tierney, mountain bike enthusiast and publisher of the internationally acclaimed "Dirt Rag Magazine."
"The cool thing about (the Alegrippis Trails) is that you can put pretty much any rider out there and they're going to have fun," said Tierney, "but there's also a lot of fun for the more experienced riders as well, a lot of whoop-de-doo's and jumps and things that are available that make it really exciting for everyone."
Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau executive director, Matt Price describes the new mountain biking destination as 23 trails arranged in a 'stacked loop' formation, which allows bikers to customize the length and difficulty of their ride. That means you can challenge yourself to an all-day epic excursion or enjoy an hour-long jaunt. It is already making Raystown Lake a hot spot beyond the fishing and boating crowd.
"Just the number of people with bike racks coming into the Seven Points Recreation Area is amazing," said Price.
Creating terrain for mountain biking was the impetus for the project, but the thirty miles of multi-use trails are open to everyone. Hikers, snowshoe lovers, and even birdwatchers and nature photographers are expected to enjoy all that the new trails have to offer.
"Pennsylvania has just tons of state land that is available to put trails on," said Tierney. "And while we don't always have access to everywhere we want to go, this Raystown project is a shining example nationally of conceiving a trail, getting it built and getting more trails on the ground, and in the end it's a win-win for everyone."
The new trails should inspire adventurers of all ages to jump on their mountain bikes and get outdoors. Imagine the trails winding through the valleys and vistas of Raystown Lake in all the seasons: the chance to glimpse ducklings or fawns in the springtime, ride or walk over a blanket of leaves in the fall, or even cross-country ski across the winter snow while waiting for mountain bike season to return. Luckily, that season is in full swing right now. Mountain biking is a relatively inexpensive sport, once you have invested in the bike itself. Trails are free, the exercise is valuable and the experience is priceless.
It's the thrill and challenge of rough road balanced with the serenity of nature. Grab a helmet and enjoy.
Kellie Goodman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.