The City Of Brotherly Love. Yep, we are now in Philadelphia for a day of R&R. We are scheduled for a Hop On Hop Off bus tour of the city.
You may have noticed that I waited for this break to post about the last 3 days of riding. I needed the rest after the first 2 of those days though yesterday was my easiest day yet, despite humidity that had me dripping wet.
July 15, Sunday (Middleton, NY to Stroudsberg, PA):
Only 3 riding days ago and already my memory is fading. That is one of the reasons for these posts, so that I have a bit of a diary to help me remember what this was all about when I look back at it in the future.
My Garmin tells me it was 62 miles and 3,738 feet of climbing, which was more than twice what I had been expecting. Well, what I would have expected if I believed Google Maps’ elevation projections which, unfortunately, I don’t any more. They have all been substantially too low.
Thirty-seven hundred feet isn’t all that much. Except that temperatures did get up to 95 and though I don’t know what the humidity was, I know I was VERY wet. And my legs were starting to resent the ups and downs with the ups sometimes getting over 13%. My Garmin even registered as high as 21% though that sounded worse than it was because I had some momentum going into that climb which didn’t stay that steep for any distance at all. But it was still a climb.
There was one stop where I was resting on a bench outside of a store after some decent climbing when my mind was trying to come up with reasons for why I should just wait for the truck. I guess my mind wasn’t too convincing, however, because for some reason I got back on the bike and started another climb. Nothing too steep, but it was part of a stretch that just kept going. However, I remember when I finally got to what appeared to be a peak and there was a sign warning trucks to shift into lower gears for the next 4 miles. That made me feel better for a couple of reasons. One was that it meant that I didn’t have much climb in front of me for at least the next 4 miles. The other was that it made me realize that I must have been climbing for a while because if there was a 4 mile descent, there had to have been a pretty decent climb.
Well, that descent didn’t mean the end of all of the day’s climbing, but it was the end of the worst of it. I still had stretches where I got into my lowest gear but there were stretches when I could actually pedal at a decent pace. That is fun. If it hadn’t been so warm, it would have been even better.
I have a couple of photos of roads that were intended to show some of the climbs but while the grade doesn’t show up, the beautiful countryside does. I also have a photo of some of the few horses I have seen which, given all of the obvious horse pastures I had seen, is somewhat surprising.
There is also a cemetery photo. With all of the cemeteries I have seen, both large and small, I have thought that it would have been interesting to count them to see what it would add up to. Although I haven’t done that, I know I have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of headstones and dozens of cemeteries.
This ride started in Middleton, NY and ended in Stroudsberg, PA which is in the Poconos, a well known vacation destination. Ale had gone to a Walmart – where, as she has said, you can find anything – and commented about all of the foreign languages she heard customers using. So apparently the Poconos are known in more than just the USA.
Nope, neither of those towns were on my itinerary but we – i.e., Ale – have made adjustments because there haven’t always been accommodations in the towns I had scheduled as stops. And in the instance of the next 2 days, she had turned what had been scheduled as 88 and 14 mile rides into a couple of 52 mile rides (well, at least in theory).
July 16, Monday (Stroudsberg to Quakertown):
Today was only 62 miles and 3,405 feet. But other than the day I cut short because of heat exhaustion, it may have been my most challenging day.
The ride started out innocently enough until it turned me onto a road that led up and over whatever mountains – I refuse to call this a hill given what it did to me. I don’t know that there has ever been a stretch that has caused me to stop to rest as many times as this one did. I have gone up Mt. Diablo, Morgan Territory, Palomares, through the mountains in Oregon and I don’t think I have ever stopped so much to let my legs recover. However, I didn’t walk any of the climb; I just rested more than I would have liked but I did keep getting on and pedaling. And I didn’t fall over in getting back on, either, though there were a couple times when it took more than one try to get both pedals in.
After that climb, the rest of the ride really went pretty well. More pretty scenery and mostly good roads. Even the bike trails I was directed to were decent.
I had trouble finding one of the trails that started behind some bushes at the end of a dead end road (how does Google find these places?). Once I got on it, it wasn’t too bad. The dirt\gravel was much slower than pavement but there wasn’t much sand or thick gravel so I wasn’t constantly worried about falling. Much of the trail was along a river which made me think of last year’s Erie Canal path except this was even greener. The main adventure along here was when Google told me to make a right turn onto a road that wasn’t there. A right turn would have taken me into the river that separated the trail from obvious activity on the other side. So I didn’t follow that direction. Instead I continued for another couple of miles when I was directed to make a hard right. Well, there wasn’t a road there, either. But there was a very high stair case that led up to a bridge. So I took the stair case and was glad that my bike is light because I am sure that the bridge was 4 or 5 stories up. (I tried to take photo to show the height from the top but I don’t think it was too effective.) It turns out that the lack of the first right turn meant that I overshot what Google had originally intended, adding a good 4 miles to the ride. No big deal. Yet.
Aside from beautiful country side I have seen numerous huge mansions on lots that don’t exist at home. The millions they would cost if in the Bay Area went through my head, though I don’t know what they cost here in Pennsylvania.
When I was about 52 miles into what I originally thought was going to be a 52 mile ride (I knew it had been extended by me nor fording the river when I was told to turn), I stopped to try to cool down from the 96 degree temperature. I don’t stop within 2 miles of the end but I have vowed to try to avoid getting overheated so I stopped. I checked my Garmin and saw I had 2.4 miles to go. As hot as I was, that didn’t sound too bad so I got back on and said that 2 miles in nothing.
Well after I had done a couple of miles I stopped to check my Garmin again. Now I was 5+ miles from the end. How that happened, I don’t know though I wasn’t too thrilled by that. But what was I to do? Who could I possibly get mad at given that I knew that no one had forced me to take this trip. So I got back on and just kept pedaling. And I finished the ride. Dripping wet, hot and tired. But finished.
July 17, Tuesday (Quakertown to Philadelphia):
The most fun, or at least easiest, day of the trip. 45 miles and 2,603 feet of climb. But the climbs were generally fun, the roads were good, the scenery was pretty and it was still hot. Oh, yeah, the “hot” part wasn’t part of the good parts, but it was bearable. And the rest more than compensated.
The ride was slower than it might have been because a number of miles were on an unpaved bike/pedestrian trail. It was harder riding than on pavement but it was, as so much has been, beautiful. Including the obligatory river with mini rapids and a picturesque bridge.
It even had a couple of snack shops along its 13 mile length (I wasn’t on all of it, but a good number of miles). When stopped while getting a drink, I noticed that I didn’t have cell reception and for reason my Google Maps connection had ended. I asked a jogger who had stopped with her son when I might be able to expect to regain reception. She asked where I was headed. I said Philadelphia and she said that I was in Philadelphia. I hadn’t expected that because the trail was totally rural. In any event, that is how I met Becky – who did some graduate studies at Cal Berkeley – and Jackson McWilliams. Hi, Becky and Jackson. I hope you leave a Comment to say hello.
The route into Philadelphia was so different than my entry into Boston which had taken my on busy city streets. This time I was on bike paths through most of the city. A very different feel. Unfortunately I missed the most dramatic photo of entering the city. With a curve in my path there was a large river – with an Indian name I don’t recall – with Philadelphia’s skyscrapers in the background. Beautiful. I missed the chance because I was going at a decent clip and figured I would stop the next chance. Unfortunately, that view wasn’t duplicated. But I remember it.
It is past my bed time so I will wait until later to talk about our time in Philadelphia. But I will say that I felt better at the end of this ride than after any other so far. May it continue!