BUFFALO TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Hundreds of cyclists from all over the country took to the Lewisburg area for an inaugural gravel bike race.
Signs of autumn were present throughout the Bald Eagle State Forest outside of Lewisburg. The transformation of leaves and sound of rushing water downstream offered peace and tranquility.
On this chilly fall day, several hundred cyclists were also able to take in nature's beauty.
"A lot of hills," Jouana Houston of New York said. "I wasn't expecting hill after hill."
All of those factors played into the inaugural "Unpaved Susquehanna River Valley" bike race coming to Union County. Kicking off bright and early at 7 a.m. on the popular Buffalo Valley Rail Trail, there were four different courses for riders to take on, ranging from 30 to 120 miles long. Organizers estimate the event will generate a quarter-million dollars, helping out the local economy. Country Cupboard near Lewisburg tells Newswatch 16 lines have been long with hungry eaters all weekend.
"While this is a timed event and a race," David Pryor, one of the event's organizers, said. "They're more in it for the adventure. They want to come in for a couple days and check out places to shop, eat, and drink."
Nearly 600 riders came to the area to participate in the race. Some traveled from all across the country. Those from outside of Pennsylvania mention the mountainous terrain as the most difficult part of the journey.
"You hit everything here," Bill Hellwig of Virginia said. "You hit nice stuff on the rail trail, and we got into some pretty rough stuff back on the mountain. It's got everything you would look for on a good gravel ride."
"When you see the mountains here, they're green, covered with trees," Joe Gregory of Utah said. "Ours are red rocks. They're both beautiful in their own way. This was a very well run event. I might come back from Utah next year and do it again."
Organizers have already landed a date for the second annual race next year. Riding enthusiasts can set their calendars for October 27, 2019.