Jeff Wuerthele- aka ” The Ride King” McCloskey

The Return of the Ride King

Jeff Wuerthele- aka ” The Ride King”

You know, you have to be a special kind of enthusiast to get two knee replacements and then come out on a 28 degree morning to bounce around on the rocks and roots of Laurel Mountain in November on a mountain bike. Jeff Wuerthele is that kind of person. In fact this whole crowd of guys who are in their 50’s and 60’s are enthusiasts who think nothing of weather and just appreciate the opportunity to ride in the Laurel Highlands on one of the last nice, sunny days of the year. From this point on, the weather here gets a little sketchy but these guys take it all in stride. They are also skiers and snowboarders so it stands to reason that they are not inhibited by weather that would make most people shy away and just sit on their couch watching SportsCenter. These are fun guys and I am happy to call them friends. In fact, my doc who is also in this group, commented that we all are good friends united by the sport of mountain biking. Guys like Jeff Wuerthele kept us all together for years with rides in the mountains and I am happy to have him back on the trails. He said it was the first group ride he has done in a while and he was happy he showed up.

Just to give you a snapshot of how these guys tick- lets take a quick look at this group, of which I am the elder statesman soon to be 67 years young.

Jeff Wuerthele- retired, former bike industry luminary and overall fun guy who lives full time in the Laurel Highlands and enjoys snowboarding and riding a mountain bike- again after two knee replacements.

Angelo Ross- the youngster in this crowd. A true renaissance man who is a retired school teacher, is currently on the Alpine skiing education staff for the Professional Ski Instructors of America. He has his own podcast, his own clothing business, and is also a guide for Wilderness Voyageurs in Ohiopyle, Pa. Very talented in a lot of areas.

John Cassucio- successful businessman and mountain bike and skiing enthusiast who is in excellent shape and fuels himself on Hammer products and vitamins. He is a testament to living cleanly and respecting his health as he ages. Not to mention a fun guy with a great sense of humor, and a skilled videographer.

Mark” the Shark” Sauers- mentioned many times in this blog. A true character who is a successful sales guy in the medical field, a certified snowboard instructor and excellent mountain biker. Perhaps his greatest asset is his willingness to share his faith on the trails with all those who ride with him. He walks the walk for sure.

Steve Gurtner- dentist and enthusiastic skier and mountain biker. Great sense of humor and a really skilled rider. His famous self deprecating line is ” Pat- we are bringing our B game to an A ride.” Not quite true in his sense because he is a fit, skilled rider, but funny all the same.

The Doc- Syed Hyder- seen here on the right. Syed is always on a busman’s holiday on our rides because he is always patching up people. The story of him inserting a presta valve into some guys chest on a ride to relieve air pressure is legendary in the medical community. An excellent and skilled rider and a really funny sense of humor always entertains us on the rides.

5 old ding dongs trying to repair Syed’s tire. Jeff working hard- LOL!
The Doc prior to Wolf Rocks eating his tire.

While we were all out in the woods as far as we could be from the cars trying to repair Syed’s tire in many different ways, we all remarked that just hanging around in the sunshine in the Laurel Highlands was enjoyable enough. Nobody cared that we were temporarily dead in the water as it was all part of an adventure for old guys out in the wilderness. That is the cool thing about mountain biking. Probably more than any venture I do outdoors, this community is responsible for fostering many lifetime friendships. Hard to explain – you have to be a mountain biker to understand. But, the adventures, the laughter, the camaraderie and the ability to participate as we all get older is fantastic. Most of my friends are either mountain bikers or skiers or in many cases, both. Lots of gray hairs under those helmets.

The wonderful end to the day of adventure was eating at the Out of the Fire Cafe in Donegal with our good friends – Julie and Jeff Chetlin. Jeff is very much like the Ride King in that he is the lynchpin of many cycling groups. Currently rehabbing from a health issue, Jeff is anxious to rejoin this group of merry men as well as others in the expansive network of Chetlin ride partners. He and Julie were so happy to see everybody and hear the stories of mishap on the trails. He is missed and we are all sure he will soon return to full health. Like Syed, he remarked that he has met all his good friends through mountain biking. Again, there is something about this sport that is uniting in many ways and we all feel it one way or another.

Angelo, the Ride King and Cassucio- just hanging around.

So, as I finish my rambling this week, I guess the point of all of this is that there is value to being active outdoors that extends beyond the health benefits. To participate in a healthy, challenging sport and to foster life long friendships as a result, is a real plus as we all age. I always remember Scott Nichol, of Ibis Bikes, stating a simple encouragement. When I asked him how long did he think we all could do this at this level as we age? His simple remark was,” Pat- don’t think about it- just keep doing it.” That has been my mantra for sure- just keep doing it. And if I can do it with friends like these guys, I will be a happy man living a long, healthy, fruitful life. Thanks for reading.

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Loving Fall McCloskey

Gore Tex Days

by patmccloskey

Pennsylvania Foliage

In the last week or so, the foliage has been spectacular here in Western Pa. There has been a lot of comments on how late the changing of the leaves came due to the warm October and climate change in general. However, almost on cue, the leaves around here have changed in a dramatic way. I love the fall and to hike or ride a mountain bike viewing the leaves is a great way to spend some time in the outdoors.

Jill Lake at The Lodge at Glendorn.

,However, as much as we like to enjoy the fall and the changing foliage, there invariably comes the change in the weather where the leaves are brown, the rains come, and in general, a feeling of despondency on the part of a lot of folks who know that the winter is not far behind. We tend to get some pretty nasty weather here when ” the winds of November come early.” Now I am a winter guy and enjoy the snow and cold weather for various reasons, but what to do when it is not quite winter and we are in the “tweener” season here in the Keystone State? We can hunker down and binge on Netflix, or we can make the decision to continue to be active. I tend to focus on the latter as many of you know from my blog.

When it rains in Ireland, the locals refer to it as a “soft day”. That’s a lovely thought isn’t it? A soft day. I can just hear them say it. If you don’t like it, just wait a few minutes and it will change. Back and forth, but it will change. They don’t let it bother them and I tend to think in a similar manner. Especially if you invest in a good rain suit and well………….get out in it. I have several friends who hate the rainy late fall weather here and I constantly tell them that the only way to beat it is to get out in it. My wife and I donned the Gore Tex and got out in the rain for a really visually spectacular hike this weekend. Janet is starting to realize the functionality of a good rain suit and how you can always adhere to the old saying,” there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing choices.” The leaves are still colorful in the rain and when you have finished the hike or whatever outdoor activity you choose, you have the feeling that you got over on something. You beat the bad weather and got some exercise. This is a well beaten mantra of by blog, but I focus on it to give the naysayers some incentive to change their thinking.

Time for the lights.

The time change is coming this weekend too. And instead of spending the next 5 months hibernating in a gym, why not get some lights and ride or hike? Light technology has changed immensely since I first started riding in the dark way back in 1988. Do some research and see the amazing changes that have been made and the increasing lumen capacity and battery life that now exists with lighting technology. The cost has come down significantly.

 

Wolf Rocks – Laurel Mountain
Top of North Face- Seven Springs, Pa

 

So I guess the message here , short and sweet, is don’t let the rain, cold, and nasty weather get you down. Take the offensive and get out in it. Invest in some good foul weather gear and some lights. You won’t be disappointed. And if you see my pal Pete and me hosing off our rain suits in the car wash after a ride, don’t laugh. You could have a smile on your face like us. Thanks for reading.

 

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Loving Pittsburgh McCloskey

Why I like Pittsburgh

From the best of http://www.chroniclesofmccloskey.com

IMG00035IMG00012-20091025-1208Giant Rubber Duck's American Debut Goes Swimmingly - Wired Scienceneil_walker.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxphoto Imagine if you will coming into the airport in Pittsburgh,Pa. and not knowing much about our fair city. The first two guys you see are shown above. One is George and one is Franco. Now George made a big splash here in 1753 as a surveyor and almost literally drowned in a big splash in the Allegheny River. But he went on to great notoriety as a British officer and helped to secure the cornerstone of our city’s early existence -Fort Pitt. He later made many trips to our region and Pittsburgh was near and dear to his heart. The other guy, Franco made a great catch in a football game against the hated Oakland Raiders that went down in gridiron history. If you ask most older Pittsburgers today, they will all tell you, in a friendly way, that they were at the game and saw the “Immaculate Reception.” Now if that were true, I would estimate that there were 600,000 people at that game. Wow- that must have been crowded. I don’t remember it being THAT crowded because I was there. ( Yea – sure you were Pat). But I was.

As you make your way through the tunnels, you are treated to a spectacular collage of buildings and 3 rivers that form the “Point”. You can see the most beautiful baseball field in the country( PNC Park), as well as Heinz Field that is the home of the Pitt Panthers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. But as you make your way to the Strip District and perhaps the South Side, you will begin to notice what makes Pittsburgh so special- the people. Pittsburghers are a friendly lot and will be glad to help you find your way even take you there if they have the time. In many larger cities, folks are in survivor mode and will hip check you to get a cab, or they will do whatever they can to get over on you just because there are so many people. It is survival in the bigger cities, but Pittsburgh is just small enough that the pressure of urban civilization has been lost a little bit on our community.

To go along with the friendliness of the city are the neighborhoods.  Everyone thinks that Pittsburgh is all about Primanti sandwiches, but as good as they are (late at night), there are so many more eateries and establishments in Pittsburgh’s many neighborhoods that can be enjoyed.

Pittsburgh is an enthusiastic town. When the steel industry went in the tank in the 80s, Pittsburgh was resilient and vowed not to be a “rust belt” city. The city fathers welcomed construction of new residence communities to encourage surburbanites to think about living and working along the rivers and supporting the new life that was sprouting up out of the coal and dust of the industrial evacuation. Pittsburgh quickly became a white collar community with the UPMC Medical Facility expansion and the rise of the financial markets in town. Along with this entrepreneurial excitement and resiliency, was the spirit of our community in it’s tireless support of it’s sports teams. The Steelers are having a rough start, but that does not stop the Black and Gold faithful from attending in sell out conditions and having their beloved tailgates at every home game.  The Penguins opened their season this week and Stanley Cup fever is in the air and Pittsburgh fans hang on every word that comes out of Sidney Crosby’s mouth.

We even had a 40 foot rubber duckie moored in the water!! Pittsburgh was the innaugural bathtub for the Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman’s duck and Pittsburghers lined the rivers and the point by the thousands welcoming this piece of inflated art that was here for a month. Shaundra Miles of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust says it best when she remarked that the duck was a “reminder with all that is going on in the world, that there is joy, and joy in simple things.” That is what defines a person living in the ‘burg. We have joy in our communities, our city, our sports teams, and in our lives in general. There is a spirit in Pittsburgh that is most evident in the happiness that a kielbassa sandwich brings at a football game, the micro-brews that are enjoyed at the many local establishments, the thrill of a home run in the post season, the visual bonus of fireworks over our three rivers, the colorful buildings, and the fellowship in the streets during a game or in the work place in anticipation of a win on the ice, field, or gridiron. That spirit is alive in me because of the many nights I sat up and listened to Bob Prince (The Gunner) broadcast a Pirate game and announcing after a victory that ” we had then alllllllll the way!!!” That red plaid sportcoat is etched forever in my memory.

Pittsburgh also has a vibrant outdoor community. Visit http://www.ventureoutdoors.org to see the many hikes, beer tasting hikes, bike rides, snowshoe events, and other outdoor instructional outings that this organization so aptly make available to visitors and locals alike. Janet and I like to use the many bike paths that wind their way through the city. You can park up river and ride to the games, leave your bike in the racks at Kayak Pittsburgh on the Allegheny River, and then return without having to worry about parking. Ride to the Red Fin on Herr’s Island and take in a good lunch while looking at folks enjoying the river on their boats and jet skis. Get involved with the rowing clubs on the island and get instruction on how to take part in a great activity on the river. You don’t have to go to an Ivy League school to learn to row. You can do it on the Allegheny River with a local club.

Well, I may have exhausted that visitor who first stepped off the plane and met George and Franco in the airport. But there sure is enough for him or her to do and maybe, just maybe, they will begin to have that great Pittsburgh spirit as they enjoy dahntahhn with a chipped ham sandwich and some Blend an at. Be glad that you have experienced the “Most Liveable City in America” Thanks for reading.

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TREES

Who doesn’t love trees and what they offer us! One of our favorite places to enjoy Mother Nature is Hemlock Trail in Laurel Hill State Park.   Six acres of old growth natural hemocks run along Laurel Hill Creek, 1.2 miles.  Here’s a link for some other eye cathing trees around the world.

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Fall Bike Riding YEAHHH McCloskey

Bring on the Fall

by patmccloskey

Fall Decor

I love the fall. So happy that the steamy, hot, humid weather has ended and the days are sunny, the nights cooler and the leaves are starting to change. Janet does a great job celebrating the season with decorating the house and we both feel the change coming. Love it. Hauling out the fleece, watching college football games, going to the farm markets teeming with pumpkins, cider, apples and people who are celebrating like we are. Did I say I love the fall?

As I age, I also celebrate little things that I may not have paid much attention to in a younger day. Just appreciating what is around us. Little things like a cold beer after a mountain bike ride with my friends. The other night,( in a place which I dare not mention because the local residents would string me up if I gave away information on their beloved trail system,) we all sat around after the ride with our fleece, our camp chairs and various beverages relaxing in the cool temperatures. My friend Sandy McKee told us his daughter lives in Vermont and usually brings a couple of cases of Heady Topper beer from the Alchemist Brewery when she visits mom and dad. Sandy hauled a couple of these out at the ride, and I have to tell you, I was excited. It is not too often we get to sample Heady Topper here in Pa. A very popular beer in New England which almost never makes it out of there because of its popularity. To have a couple of cases make their way here is a real treat and Sandy just made the cool, evening post ride amazing! It’s hard to put into words the feeling you get when you drink in that first sip of a great beer after a ride. But sitting down in your camp chair, drinking in that first sip, looking at the changing leaves and talking about the ride with friends is really special. The post ride is almost as good as the ride itself.

A real treat – Heady Topper
Sandy McKee in the foreground. Made our evening ride more special.

I know I talk a lot about mountain biking in this blog but really, it is a great way to exercise and a wonderful way to take in the trails and scenery in wooded settings all around the country. This time of year in Pennsylvania, the weather is pretty cool and dry, and is actually our best weather in these parts. In my opinion, nothing better than taking it in on the seat of a bike. What makes it even more special is that I got a new bike recently which is light, fast, and enjoyable to ride. I have been riding a monster truck recently (a 29er plus) and although it is great on really rough terrain like we have in the mountains around here and in West Virginia, it is tough to haul that weight around as I grow older. The new light steed brings me back a little. A real gift as I start the fall riding season.

The Transition Spur

So taking that second sip of the Heady Topper, I looked around at my group and was thankful that I had good friends to share the experience of riding and reveling in the post ride. Bob K always brings snacks, and as we all sit around munching and sipping away, time stops for a moment or two if I allow myself to take it all in. I think sometimes that the fall also ushers in the final quarter of a year and as another one slips by, I think how important it is to grab every moment to enjoy what life has to offer. Simple things like trails, leaves, apple cider, and being with friends who value the same things. And of course – Heady Topper. Thanks Sandy. Thanks for reading.

Fall in the Laurels.
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Fall Foliage

Pa has over 130 native tree species! “Beginning September 30, weekly fall foliage reports can be found online and will be updated every Thursday. Fall foliage typically peaks for several weeks near the beginning of October across Pennsylvania.” Check out the DCNR website for more details!

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