So I’ve ridden out of Philadelphia, which feels a lot more like the beginning of the trip than the overnighter across New Jersey did. This also feels more like a proper bike tour in that I rode 82 miles, covering some real ground this time, and had proper hills and plenty of rain. That kind of hazing is what makes you able to say you’ve been on a bike trip in earnest. I also met three other bike tourists in the first two hours (two from New Zealand, one another Mennonite who lives in West Philly, only this guy rides 200 miles in a day) and by two and a half hours in had gotten an invitation from a guy who noticed my panniers to stay with his family in Jackson Hole, Wyoming when I get there.
The following paragraph is more a note to self than anything, so I can remember the ride in the future. I took the Schuylkill River Trail past Valley Forge, then took the gravel Perkiomen Trail up to Green Lane. It was on this that I first realized my legs are nowhere near ready for this trip. The next few weeks are going to be an even more intense hazing. At the beautiful Green Lane park, I was unable to appreciate the beauty thanks to a constant chilly wind and the collected sweat on my shirt, and the incessant cold, blowing mist. So I started looking for campgrounds between Allentown and Palmerton, only to decide that maybe actually drying my clothes out by the morning might be nice. So I found a cheap Airbnb instead. This turned out to be a good decision. I rode route 29 north, which started out decent but got pretty terrible later – steep climbs combined with no shoulder at all and 45mph traffic. But I survived. I made my way on busier highways through Allentown and the surroundings, got a bit more bike trail (the Ironton Rail Trail through Whitehall) and finally wound up in the hills above the Lehigh River, which I’ll follow tomorrow.
I’m currently fighting off sleep in the very comfortable Airbnb, being full of pizza which the hosts fed me. Like me, they tend to go to bed around 8pm, so it all worked out very well. I’ve just got to stay conscious long enough to examine my potential route tomorrow, and then it’s off to sleep,in hopes that my legs can get some kind of recovery from what they just went through.