Why drive to the Finger Lakes when it is a whole lot more fun riding a bike getting there?  Let me tell you how easy it is and then you decide if a little adventure bicycling across Pennsylvania appeals to you.  If you bike there you’ll already have logged 275 miles vs the normal long weekend riding of maybe 100 - 200 miles on day rides over the long weekend.  Or maybe bike back too and log more miles which will give a nice head start on the riding season.


The route North … “Signed” bicycle routes in Pennsylvania and New York which means you do not need to continually refer to hard copy directions or mess with a bike GPS or “Smart” phone or stop and ask  directions from people along the way who seldom know where they are much less the roads to where you are going.  For the convenience of long distance cyclists there are posted bike route signs at nearly every turn along these routes.


How to get there … Start out on Pennsylvania Bicycle Route J which runs through our Capitol and follow the “J” signs all the way to Sayre on the New York State border and from here there are NYS bike routes which are also signed and go all the way to Geneva.  Note:  The Dauphin Narrows section of “J” was closed to bicyclists recently  but there is a good alternative on the West Shore (not signed but I can provide a RideWithGps map and route) to Duncannon where “J” continues of the shoulder of Rt. 15.  Another alternative is to get dropped off with your bike in Duncannon and start the ride from here but that negates the idea of starting from home.


How long to plan your trip … always depends on how fast you want to travel and how far each day.  I suggest four days … three of 75 miles and a shorter last day (although this year I may change this a bit because I almost never go the same way even on a signed route).


How hard is the ride … almost level … spread 7,400 ft. of elevation gain over four days and it’s relatively flat even by Iowa standards.  Wind is more of a potential factor but generally was not an issue the last two years I biked to the Finger Lakes.  Weather can also be a factor but so far the storms encountered on this route were of short duration.


Where to stay … hotels, motels, bed & breakfasts are relatively plentiful but if you prefer to rough it there are also campgrounds available along the route (or woods and fields for the more adventurous tourist).  Given the choice I opt for a solid roof unless I’m biking long distance over a long time period.


How to get back home again … bike or ask a friend and have them bring your weekend gear because for the ride up a change of clothes is about all you’ll need to bring along with your usual bike stuff.


What are the positives … adventure … you’re on a bike on mostly back roads enjoying fresh air and scenery logging more bike miles …  preparation for the biking season … the scenery along the way is best enjoyed from the seat of a bicycle … the people you have the chance to meet along the journey who will envy you doing what you want … the good feeling you’ll get knowing you biked every mile to the start of a long weekend of bicycling … and the stories you get to tell because you lived them getting to Geneva.


If interested and you have more questions let me know.


My objective in this story is to let you choose another alternative for getting to Geneva (or anywhere) than the usual car and highways.  If you do decide to bike and want company and can tolerate my pace (‘slow and slower and I tend to stop often, maybe 10 mph average pace, 75 miles per day maximum) I can let you know where I plan to stay and you can make your own reservations or we can meet up on the road each day.


Jeff McPartland 

Camp Hill, PA 17011 

Tel. 717 761-5109 (home) 

Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.