Days 6 & 7: Pennsylvania, Delaware, & Maryland, or, “The Land of Broken Glass.”

 

tumblr_nx70mmBhSH1uj13z1o2_1280.jpgPhiladelphia/Halloween was a nice chance to catch up with friends, do some recovering, and of course see what’s up on the Schuylkill. I’ve only been to Philadelphia for regattas before, and only in the first week of May, so I was surprised to find that 1) there aren’t always thousands of boats all over Fairmount Park and 2) the cherry trees aren’t always in bloom and 3) sometimes cars are allowed to drive on Kelly Drive, instead of just boat trailers.

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With November comes the end of Daylight Savings Time, so today’s 10 o’clock start was the same as yesterday’s 11 o’clock start. Considering that, I was able to make some very good progress today, covering a bit over 70 miles to make it out of Pennsylvania, through Delaware, and far enough into Maryland to make it to Washington before tomorrow night.

Most of today’s riding was in the East Coast Greenway. The Greenway, it turns out, has many personalities. It can be beautiful and colorful, like the Delaware and Raritan Canal path, it can be urban and full of stop signs and red lights, like the Cobb’s Creek Bikeway, or it can be freakin’ riding on a really sharp and bumpy crushed rock path next to I-95. I think that it may have actually been the off-road part of the Greenway that finally did in my front tire- about half a dozen slashes on the tread and it was time to find a bike shop. Eventually it merged (again) with US Route 13, and as I started to recognize some landmarks, I realized that I had already driven this road a few times while traveling from Rhode Island to South Carolina. Fortunately, 13 has an expansive shoulder, and in many areas a dedicated bike lane, so it was able to offer some pleasant riding, and some of the fastest mileage of the trip so far. Finally, I’m able to make progress towards the 12 mph goal I had set for myself, and I am feeling optimistic about the middle leg of the trip.

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While Route 13 does offer some smooth riding, it wasn’t super beautiful. Miles and miles of oil refineries, chemical manufacturers, and power plants line the roads around the Pennsylvania/Delaware border. I’m not a huge fan of the aesthetic, but even more I’m frustrated that people would call solar or wind farms an eyesore, or a waste of space, or intrusive- when right here there are hundreds of acres of petroleum storage, distillation towers, flaming waste exhaust, and compounds surrounded by razor wire- sometimes right across the street from residential neighborhoods. The solar farms I’ve seen so far appear much nicer- dare I say, habitable- and far less sinister than their fossil fuel counterparts. After biking through, I definitely had a more personal interest in the divestment movement- not just for myself, but in the interest of the people who have to live so close to the refinery.

 


To lighten the mood: I did see some good stuff today. A sign for “Trunks of Blessing,” which interestingly is the name I had chosen for my spandex pants emporium, and also the Alfred O. Deshong Park Art Museum, which looked like it might be “closed todays.”

And of course, I would be remiss not to mention that you can help fund me at gofundme.com/renewableride. New tire today will hopefully be the last emergency repair for a while, but it was a relief to know that I was able to afford a new one to keep the bike rolling instead of trying to duct-tape-boot the holes in the old one. Thank you, a huge thank you, to everyone who has helped to support me so far- either by donating, sharing my story, or letting me stay at their house (or anything else you’ve done.)

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