NEPA Offers Miles and Miles of Opportunities
NEPA’s country roads and mountain trails are prime spots for cycling—just take it from a guy who’s been riding for over 30 years. Meet James Furman, a member of the DiscoverNEPA Cycling Team. James is a Category 3 road racer and a Category 2 mountain bike racer who won the New Jersey State Cross Country Mountain Bike Point Series twice. He’s lived all over the country, from his college days in the Adirondacks to working with the Forest Service at Arizona’s Mount Graham to his time as a Personnelman in the United States Navy on the USS Hawes FFG-53. He currently works remotely as a claims specialist for MetLife.
James has seen a lot of incredible places, but when he moved to Scranton in 2016, he knew he found something special. He could pursue his passions for cycling, hunting, hiking, backpacking and running in NEPA’s great outdoors, yet still be close enough to his family in New Jersey and his wife’s job in New York. Factor in the affordable cost of living, and NEPA was a perfect fit.
James shared his story with us and gave tips on how to meet local cyclists and discover trails you never even knew existed. But enough from us. We’ll let him take it from here.
Amazing Rides Are Out There. You Just Have to Know Where to Look.
When we first moved to Scranton in 2016, I really had no idea how good the cycling community was here. It is damn good. The area surrounding Scranton is so beautiful, and little by little, I started to discover the NEPA riders, roads and mountain bike trails.
I used Strava to start exploring more of the area. Strava is a great app that lets you follow other riders and see what they’re up to. You can find rides that range in terrain and difficulty and map your own ride to see where you stand against the course record. My advice is to pick a different road and go for a KOM (King of the Mountain).
Through Strava, I discovered the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail. From there, I learned most of the popular paved and gravel road rides, and I would eventually meet all the area’s local cyclists.
You can also get connected with the cycling community online. Northeast Pennsylvania Group Rides is a Facebook page where you can find opportunities for road, gravel and mountain bike rides. Every skill level is welcome, from novice to advanced. The NEPA Velo Meetup page has a helpful calendar with rides all across the area, and Veloce in downtown Scranton hosts organized rides as well. Visit their Facebook page, call or stop by the shop for details.
There’s Still So Much to Discover
Happiness is hanging on a hook in my garage. It’s my five bicycles. I just pull one down and off I go. I could get on my mountain bike and ride up Marshwood Road to the Dick and Nancy Eales Preserve for some of the best mountain biking the area has to offer. I can get on my gravel bike, ride up to Jermyn on the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail and from there access the network of gravel roads in Greenfield Township without ever having to drive anywhere. In fact, my pickup truck sits in the driveway most of the time because I work from home.
NEPA is a special area—not just for cyclists, but for all-around outdoor enthusiasts. You really have the best of both worlds here. You have the charm of downtown Scranton, the malls and every shopping option at your disposal (which my wife loves). But to me, all of that is eclipsed by the mountains and forests surrounding it. The beauty of the outdoors here is indescribable. Just think of State Game Lands 91 in Bear Creek, which offers over 20,000 acres of public land and access roads. There are so many little surprises like that! Every bend you come around, there is a scenic mountaintop view, a stunning waterfall or a beautiful winding road through the woods.
I will keep riding my bike, looking for the next impressive view, the steeper hill climb and the secret swimming hole. The possibilities are endless, so get out there, get connected and explore all NEPA has to offer.