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Local Treks

Saturday, 05 June 2010

Bike Rrride!

So last weekend, early morning's minion (aka, our daughter) woke us before it got too hot, and we set off for a leisurely ride along the Wissahickon River, near the Valley Green Inn.  For those not familiar, the Valley Green Inn is a lovely restaurant located on the old post road to Philadelphia, from when the post was delivered on horseback.  The historic building's current occupants serve lovely brunches, and had the wisdom to attach a small snack shop next door filled with food that hikers and bike riders enjoy.  For there are many who hit this trail when the weather gets nice.  Why?  It's tree-lined, wide, and great exercise.  The river rolls past at a great clip, and - most importantly - there are no cars.  You'll see bikers, hikers, joggers, and the occasional equestrian on this ride.  

We'd ridden portions of the path, called Forbidden Drive (because cars are forbidden) with the afterburner trailer bike last year and earlier this spring, and thought we'd ride down to the historic Rittenhouse Town this time - about 2 miles downhill from the Inn, and back up.  We were planning on building up to a ride all the way down to the Schuykill River (3.5 miles one way), and eventually connecting that to a ride around East and West River Drives, past the art museum.  That ride would be about 15 miles, with substantial uphill at the end, so we (ok, my husband) advised ourselves to take it in portions for now.  

To our surprise, we missed the turn for Rittenhouse Town, the weather was lovely, and we kept pedaling, finding ourselves at the end of Forbidden Drive, looking at the Schuykill River before we knew it.  We were thrilled, but decided to turn around and complete the uphill before adding the river circuit to our route.  The junior member of our biking party had already weighed in that she was ready for a soft pretzel (they sell these at the Valley Green Inn snack bar), and we didn't want to end up suffering at the end of a long ride.  As we began to pedal back uphill, onlookers commented on our daughter's ability to help my husband by pedaling the trailer bike, and cheered her on.  She grinned ear to ear.  We stopped for water and raisins a few times back up, and ended up rolling into view of the Inn about 2 hours after we left it - not a bad 7 mile circuit with a steep grade.  

What we took with us:  lots of water, raisins, two bananas, and sunscreen in a daypack; and  two multi-speed hybrid bikes, one rigged with an afterburner trailer bike for our daughter.

The biggest surprise was that we got up the next morning excited to try another ride - this one along the Schuykill out to Valley Forge, and also closed to cars.  The trailbook has the route going from the Art Museum to Valley Forge National Park (21 miles), with an optional addition of a 6 mile circuit around the park.  There is a parking lot next to the trail a little more than halfway through, in a town called Conshohocken, so we drove to the parking lot and began our ride there.  The day was very hot, and this trail, while mostly flat, is not shaded.  Nevertheless, the path was filled with bikers of all types, including some obviously competitive teams.   We went slower than them, of course, and took about 2 1/2 hours to ride out and back, following the very industrial scenery and catching site of the river now and then.  

What we took with us:  lots of water, raisins, two bananas, and sunscreen in a daypack; and  two multi-speed hybrid bikes, one rigged with an afterburner trailer bike for our daughter.

What we learned - for a hot spring day, the portion of the Schuykill Trail that we rode is very hot, as there is little-to-no shade, unless you go early.  Pack lots of water, wear lots of sunscreen, sunglasses, etc., and take breaks as needed.  It's flat, so there are many opportunities for looking at the different parts of the landscape, but it is a pretty tough ride for the person hauling the afterburner, once the kid on the afterburner gets bored and decides to put her feet up for a while.  

What we also learned - we can bike a lot further, and faster, than we thought we could.  More importantly, this is a great thing to do together, in some incredibly scenic and historic areas, on a cool summer morning.  Especially if there are ice cream cones or soft pretzels at the end of the ride.
Posted in [none] by Fran W. at 12:54 PMPermalink

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