Day 5: New Jersey, Pennsylvania

New Jersey is actually a great place. For bike riding, anyways, as long as you’re going somewhere that can be accessed by the Delaware and Raritan Canal path.

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I started riding this morning under an incredible moon, and pretty quickly reunited with the East Coast Greenway following the canal’s old towpath route. It was fantastic. Although unpaved, the D&RC trail is mostly flat and hard-packed, and since there’s no automobile traffic, stop lights, and it’s fairly direct, velocity made good is just about the same as riding on the state highways. Plus, it’s way more beautiful.

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I met some friends (and made some friends!) in Princeton, plus visited Kopp’s Cycle, billed as the oldest bike shop in America, talked for a few minutes about riding, Cannondales, and -wait, Santa Monica, like California? Oh, cool. If your ever in Princeton, they’re worth checking out and have some cool stories to tell as well- let them know I say hi!

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On my way out of town. I passed the Princeton boathouse before getting back on the canal trail. As my friend Riley once said when he rowed against Princeton, “Of course we lost- they row out of a castle.”

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Further up the canal, I came across a floating litter boom, which contained thousands of bottles, cans, footballs, and anything else that floats. I wonder how often it gets cleaned out- and where the litter goes to. I think the boom does a few important things very well: it concentrates litter in one place so it’s easier to pick up, it makes the litter more visible, and therefore forces people to do something about it, and (presumably) provides a reliable indicator of how much floating trash is being thrown in upstream. In a place where it’s feasible, it think litter booms might be a pretty good idea for both cleaning up rivers and helping keep them clean in the first place.

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Crossing the Delaware in Pennsylvania was a big step today- although everyday is a little bit farther away and a new adventure, this one felt vaguely historic, even though I was going the opposite way George did when he went to go surprise the British. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), you have to walk your bike over the river, probably because people would charge across from Pennsylvania into New Jersey yelling something about tyranny and taxation and liberty until the neighbors complained.

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Once in Pennsylvania, time passed pretty slowly, even without stopping for a peanut butter break. I definitely was heading west,though, and spent most of the time looking directly at the sun. The Julbo sunglasses are great anytime the sun is above/behind/even in front of you, but just a little too clear for rising straight into the setting sun- I found myself looking down pretty frequently to try to actually see where I was going. The sun was rather beautiful on the houses though, and I was able to make it to tonight’s stop without too much trouble.

Don’t forget- I’m making great progress, but there are still almost 4,000 miles left in the trip! If you’d like to help support me, please visit gofundme.com/renewableride and make a donation- it’ll help pay for inner tubes, emergency bike locks, peanut butter, or hostels (if it’s really rainy). And if you know anyone who might think this is cool… Let them know about it! Thank you!

AND, one year later…

It’s interesting to think of living in Philadelphia now, and recognized some of the same ways I biked into the city last year. Now, of course, I’m never pulling a trailer when I’m going around the city, but I’ll still see a street and remember “hey wow that was really hard to find in the dark” or think “hey, I’d never ride that way now, this route is so much easier.”

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