2 – Philly to Susquehana – 70 – 184.3

Got an early start to a 70 mile day-184.3 to date-what with daylight hours limited, and cyclists shouldn’t be riding at night and figuring out how to put together their bivy which they only got around to doing once in the living room at home before taking off, forgetting guy lines and stakes back at home, which is exactly what happened to me. 

Much of the road from Philadelphia to Chester is on the East Coast Greenway, although anything but green, is through the Sunoco industrial park, where steam leaked from pipes into the atmosphere dozens of stories high to small pipes on the side of the road and everything in between. 

When I was finally relieved to hit a park, John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, with its own designated trail markers, there was about a five mile stretch of loose gravel and rock, not super comfortable on a loaded bike with 25s. But was happy to exit and stumble upon a “farmers market” – a structure similar to a Walmart but reminiscent of Eastern European bazaars, with colors and textures and merchandise and food for sale in a conglomeration of magnitude only possible here in the USA. I was happy with my bacon, eggs, biscuit, hash browns and coffee for five bucks. Not too shabby for a farmers market. 

Upon arriving within five miles of Susquehana Stae Park, I decided to stop by Concord Point Coffee in Havre de Grace for a warmup and a muffin, with daylight hours dwindling I was going to make a quick getaway back to the park but facing mostly uphill terrain, I stopped by a fire station and asked if there was anywhere closer to town where I may be able to camp. Unfortunately not, I was told, but that camp was not too far at the state park and should make it there before dusk. I marched onwards. 

Attempting to multitask, take my gloves off, check the map on my mobile device, check for traffic, shift gears, breathe and beat my heart, my front tire came off the tarmac onto the grass and instead of accepting it and riding the grass a bit I tried my mountain biking skills with 20 pounds of gear and lifted the tire back into the tarmac, unsuccessfully of course, which shifted my weight left and kept the bike on my right; I unclipped and fell gracefully with a few spins much as Squidward does in that episode where he becomes handsome. I got up, inspected the bike, and rode onwards nonchalantly. 

Making to camp before dark was easy, but after a long day, a trip up, and the cold weather onsetting, a 2 minute camp set up turned into twenty, long enough for me to check out that super moon before turning out the lights and listening to the howls and owls and crickets in the distance.