Monday, July 1, 2013

Week Two

New Jersey 1 day to Pittsburgh 7 days

620 miles...30,640 feet climb
930 miles total...44,230 feet climb total

There have to be better ways out of New York City than my route. The ferry across the Hudson River from 39th Street to Paulus Hook landing in Jersey City was very nice. But then crossing over other waterways on US route 1 to Newark, Irvington, Madison, and Morristown was terrible and unpleasant. After Morristown to the Delaware Water Gap, the next 50 miles were much better. Arrived after 8:00 pm to conclude a long day.

Such a bad day causes one to question their route. I am becoming quite enamored with the mapping abilities of GoogleMaps. With bike symbol highlighted, nearby bike trails become visible in green and the topo layer helps to identify coarse grades. There have been many greenways available to me. Over the next several days I will ride a greenway at least partially every day along streams, weaving between mountains, passing abandoned villages and early industrial communities, and through current villages where water, ice cream, and snacks are available. Whenever I leave these trails I recognize why Pennsylvania has no yearly cross-state ride. If they ever develop one it will be called the Ole Cycle Ride Across Pennsylvania-Land of Endless Mountains, with the acronym O'C.R.A.P.

Some trail highlights...

Delaware Water Gap...a bike/hike trail follows the river on the Pennsylvania side. I did not know this trail existed until viewing the NPS map closely. Biked the early morning road to the park headquarters where there were (of course) some extremely steep, but short hills then down, down to the river and a good level ride. It would have been better to start from Dingmans Ferry Campground where I spent the night and the trail was right there without the climbs. Leaving DWG I took a side climb up to a roadside viewpoint where I had a lovely view of interstate 80 below and not much of the gap. All that this earned me was the justification for another slice of pie at the next opportunity. But the bike spirits were with me, for upon the descent I noticed a Pennsylvania little green sign with letter "V." I recognized this as a bike PA signed route; one not previously listed on PA site. During lunch I uncovered it's specifics and changed my prescribed route...not for the last time.

Blackie's keeping an eye on the Cicadas...

Pennsylvania has a wonderful, well-signed bike route system that crosses the state north-south and east/west. (See for a good list and map links.) I so enjoyed route V that during the next several days I biked on V, Y, and G.

Pine Creek Bike Trail (PA bike route G)...runs through the Pennsylvania Canyon. While a beautiful ride weaving between opposing mountains, it's a bit overkill to compare it to its western cousin. After several days climbing steep grades...15 minutes up one mile at 4 mph, 3 minutes do it again, and again, and again...I looked over the maps and determined that since I will be bearing south to approach Pittsburgh, I might as well do so when there is a rail-to-trail running 2% descent in my favor. There is a very large rustic campground at river's edge near the southern end. I shared it only with one family coming off the river on kayaks. It's fortunate they came some time after my arrival. I enjoyed a bath au naturel in the shallow waters. It was most refreshing after a long, hot day.

The Eliza Furnace
Abandoned bridge
Surprises...When one travels in unknown areas there can often be wonderful surprises around the next corner. Bellefonte, the county seat of Centre County, is a well-preserved early Victorian town and is such a surprise. Mostly throughout Pennsylvania I experience beautiful agriculture and forested areas, nice rivers, and cordial drivers by the way (including truck drivers that typically shift over when passing me on the generous paved shoulders), but the towns have been severely effected by years of economic decline. Then I ride into Bellefonte and it's as if I cross a line two centuries past. It's a vibrant commercial downtown with well-kept homes immediately adjacent to the town and a lovely Central Park with flowing water. I wish to see more of this.

There's also the not-so-fun surprises such as the bike rail-trail that suddenly ends at the sealed tunnel. A series of three long wooden steps takes me 100 feet above the trail. There are moments of drama as I loose the ability to continue pushing the bike up the inclined, dew-slick board provided for bikes. Lou and its heavy load begins to respond to gravity. Lou wants down. Robbie struggles to keep what gained ground we have. We all collapse on the stairs. I hold on desperately with one hand while removing one pannier at a time, carry bike up, carry gear up, and then see a sign at the top that tells me to expect significant hills further on.

What's wrong with this picture?

This is supposed to be a RAIL-trail. Trains didn't run like this.

"More than what I just did?!"

Dare I continue?

I'm nearly worn out, tired, hot, sweaty.

Descending those stairs will be worse than climbing.

Onward we go. The trail ahead turns out to have some ups and downs but is rideable.

Friend's homes north of Pittsburgh. Tom and Janet in 1980s pyramidal home where I got to sleep on third level below skylight cap. Tom did a beta test ride of trans America ride in 1975 prior to its becoming the Bicentennial bike route and today's Trans America route that I and Jenny meet riders from Australia, South Korea, England, and Ireland launching out on when we were on a weekend ride in Virginia this spring.
Fellow architect friend Henry on his hut porch.

For the bike traveler...

  • Brooklyn, Manhattan, ferry to Paulus Hook landing in Jersey City, US route 1 to Newark, Irvington, Madison, Morristown, Patriots Path Trail, Mt Freedom, Succasunna, Ledgewood, Netcong,Stanhope, Sussex Branch Trail, Andover, Newton, Augusta, Branchville, Layton, Delaware Water Gap, Dingmans Ferry camp
  • Delaware Water Gap Trail, town of same, signed bike route V, Saylorsburg, Kunkletown, Albrightsville, Hickory Run SP, camp
  • D&L-Lehigh Gorge SP Trail, White Haven, Mountain Top, Ashley, Wilkes-Barre, Kingston, Forty-Four, Black Mountain Trail, Dallas, Mehoopany to Cully's house
  • SR 4002, PA 187, Wyalusing, US 6 (signed bike route Y), Wysox, Towanda, signed bike route J, Monroe, Leroy, Canton, Gleason, Ogdensburg, Blossburg, Liberty, Morris, camp behind rescue squad compound
  • Wellsboro, Leonard Harrison SP, Pine Creek Trail (signed bike route G), camp
  • Jersey Shore, Avis, Lock Haven, Mill Hall, Zion, Bellefonte, Port Matilda, Tryone, Bellwood, Altoona, motel
  • Cresson, Edensburg, Ghost Town Trail, Nantu Glo, Vintondale, Dilltown, Josephine, Black Lick, Blairsville, camp
  • West Penn Trail, Saltsburg, Westmoreland Heritage Trail, Slickville, New Kensington, Russellton, Gibsonia, to Tom and Janet's house and Henry's Hut...Sewickly and Tara's house...Pittsburgh


  1. Thanks for the update, Robbie! Trying to figure out how to mark the au natural baptismal event on the "Where's Robbie Now?" calendar in the Sunday School ;-0

    1. Just around the bend in the river of course.

  2. Glad to hear you made it out of NYC in one piece. Too bad Wes "What Traffic?" Garbee wasn't along on that section to tell you jokes about the hides of the squaw with the hippopatamus.... Enjoy those rolling hills and bike paths. You picked a good time to be gone from WNC, nothing but rain every day. Fungus is running for mayor.

    1. And you think it has been dry up here perhaps?
      Last Friday morning as I struck camp in small town of Blairsville, it started to rain. I was able to make it to a very nice shop for true French pastries and good coffee while it rained hard outside. Later that day upon arrival in New Kensington, it again rained hard as I ducked into Italian pizza shop for lunch. That afternoon coming into Pittsburgh area I kept an eye on dark cloud to my north...thunder was commencing...there were a few rain path turned south away from cloud...and yet again, immediately as I turned into friend Tom's drive, dismounted bike, and with time only to shake Tom's welcoming hand, did it yet again rain. This time being a deluge. I had escaped being wet all day. Cool!

  3. Lucky dog escaping rain like that! Looks like you're really cranking out the miles early on. 620 in seven days, despite the ups and downs.
    I walked across the DWG bridge so you've crossed my path yet again. Perhaps for the last time on that path!
    Are you camping most nights? What's your favorite meal so far? Repeating favorite meals yet? How about snacks during the day? What are you carrying for day-food? Restaurants for daily meals?
    Thanks for keeping up the blog!

  4. Reference your comment about earning another slice of pie . . . Reminded me of the old joke, "How's your RAGBRAI training coming along? Just fine, I'm up to 4 slices of pie a day!"

  5. Glad you're doing well man.......Godspeed....Cully

  6. It was a pleasure meeting you on the same road in NJ that I traveled 14 years ago on my own cross-country bicycle trip. The meeting was prophetic since I hope to be repeating the trip when I will be about your age.

    Safe travels!


    1. Good to hear from you Eric. I will b in St. Louis tomorrow to meet my family. It's a little over the third way distance.

  7. Hi Robbie-

    I ran into you outside the Hy-Vee grocery store in Lee's Summit, MO a few hours ago. I saw the Long Haul Trucker parked outside the store as I walked in, so I entered the store hoping to find the person riding that bike. I just returned from a self-contained RAGBRAI, & I assumed you were from that ride. Come to find out your journey is a bit longer than a RAGBRAI...good on ya, mate! I came home, logged onto your website, and spent the last few hours reading your blog...what an adventure! Good luck out there, be safe, and you will be in my prayers. If you ever want to try RAGBRAI, you can come as my guest and join my small band of bikers across the fine state of Iowa.


  8. Thanks Ryan. It was a pleasure to talk with you. What do your boys think about this long ride? It has been fun meeting kids in some of the towns I pass through and get their reaction to a cross country ride. I particularly feel thrilled when a young boy just says "wow" in a soft, unintended voice.

  9. Yep, that about sums it up..."wow!!". I told my RAGBRAI crew, and it was more jealousy than amazement. I hope your stay in Kansas City was good. Ride on, my friend.



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