Who knew that Penn State University (PSU) had its own creamery? Not I! This turned out to be very important information and a highlight of a terrific weekend in State College, PA! More on that later…
You may be familiar with the iconic (fictional) Nittany Lion, or their huge football stadium which holds over a hundred and six thousand people and is second only to Michigan in its capacity.
The mountains that surround Happy Valley are real and made for a challenging weekend of cycling. Luckily, we had been training in the hills of Amish country in Ohio and Pennsylvania for the week and a half leading up to the rally.
I don’t have the stats available, but I still think the Eastern Tandem Rally (ETR) that we attended in Hanover, NH (2017) was even more mountainous (but I digress). We chose the medium distance routes, and as our reward, ice cream!
The Friday ride (for us) was “show and go” remote start from a local park. We left the park with a group of at least a half dozen other couples and then finished and lunched with them. We also accidentally intersected and ended up for most of the ride with John and Mitzi, who had opted for the longer option and started from the hotel!
Friday night was the ETR ice cream social at the hotel – our first taste of the delectable ice cream which has been produced at the Penn State Berkey Creamery for 155 years (PSU is just 12 years older than the creamery).
Our busy Saturday started with a delish breakfast buffet followed by a group picture with our new jerseys (designed by Elliott Strauss) and then a sort of mass start. Many participants had left before the photo as they were worried about the expected temps in the high 80’s.
The start happened in waves, which was a good thing since the early part of the ride featured a narrow bike path that would have been dicey with lots of tandems in groups.
There was a rest stop filled with yummy baked goods at a park about halfway through the ride.
Lunch on the route came at about 30 miles. After lunch, nine miles to go…burp. Lunch was a beautiful buffet that I neglected to photograph but we enjoyed grilled cheese, salad, chicken salad sliders, mahi-mahi (with a taco making option). There was a choice of cobbler, Mississippi mud pie and ice cream. I passed on dessert because I had my heart set on visiting the creamery (Becky and Jack had already been twice and I was getting jealous).
After lunch we finished the ride, showered and drove to the creamery.
This is an impressive operation that boasts a herd of over 200 Holsteins which are milked twice daily and the shop hand dips about 750,000 cones and bowls each year. It’s a slick operation and there are (strict) rules of engagement when you go in. One size fits all: no kiddie cups here! It’s about 3 scoops and it can only be one flavor. You get in, you get out and then you dig in (or lick and turn).
Saturday night was the traditional banquet. We were all vaccinated and hopefully we weren’t at a super-spreader event, but who knows? As of this writing, all is well.
For our last ride of the weekend, we chose the shortest option (25 miles) so we could finish and get back to our room for a shower and check-out. It was another challenging ride, or my legs were just shot by this time. The highlight was a little tour of the beautiful town of Bellefonte.
ETR provides a box lunch on the last day and we picked ours up at took it to the Berkey creamery for one more visit on our way out of town.
We thank Caren and Mike Bianco who organized the ETR this year.
They did a masterful job creating routes and securing food, fun and accommodations for a terrific weekend! It’s not easy and we more than appreciate all of their efforts.
Coming up: we didn’t go directly home…there is one more post from this trip. Spoiler alert: no more ice cream!
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