Urban Adventures

Thursday I decided to join my commuting buddy for the Moveable Feast, an evening ride around Fairmount Park after work. The registration fee went  to benefit the Pennsylvania Center for Adapted Sports (PCAS) and we had several riders from PCAS on tandems joining us on this inaugural, unsupported ride. Because it’s getting dark early, lights were mandatory.

We rode in the morning on our usual commute and it felt good – rarely do my legs feel nimble and light when I’m riding my commuter. He said its because I took two days off the bike; I maintain that it was because I had a cup of coffee before leaving my house.

THE WORLD WILL NEVER KNOW.

After work, we had about an hour to kill so we rode out to the Ben Franklin Bridge via the buffered bike lane on Pine St. to enjoy the view. I had no idea there was a pedestrian/cycling part of the bridge … turns out it is above the roadway and a marvel of old school architecture.

Panoramic view of the Delaware River and the Philadelphia Skyline from the Ben Franklin Bridge

Dark clouds were looming over the Philadelphia skyline and soon fat drops of rain were falling.

image

The trains shuttling commuters from the city back to New Jersey rumbled below us.

View of New Jersey from the Bridge

On the way back to the start point for the evening ride, we saw a laundry valet by bicycle – a girl towing three 30+ gal laundry bins. Such a cool idea! We arrived back to the ride start in time to check in and chat with some of the riders from PCAS. There was maybe twenty of us. Unfortunately there was also a major auto accident on the adjacent street (up the road) so there was some last-minute scouting to ensure the multi-use path was still open. The 10 mile loop was low-key and fun, if challenging to see the buckles and heaves in the path on the west side of the river.

After the short ride we teamed up with two others from the ride and rode over to the Night Market, which was being held in Chinatown. Night Market is a fun street fair-type atmosphere where local restaurants ply their delicious goods to the hungry masses. It was packed – lots of good people-watching, a DJ on one end and a live band on the other! We were able to find an alcove big enough for four bicycles and devoured some Vietnamese cuisine from Vietnam Restaurant (me the chicken spring rolls with rice noodles; Commuter Friend the tofu sandwich). Then we explored the area in search of a cupcake truck  which we eventually found at the very end of a side street (Jimmy’s).

By this time it’s about 8:40pm and we still have to ride home (which takes an hour and a half and is uphill). We bid our fellow cyclists adieu and headed out back to the path. (On a safety note, I would not have ridden my bike home this late at night by myself. The park is VERY dark and as a female, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable alone.)

This is where you learn that most bike lights are not meant for riding outside of urban environments. My bike light is small and clearly is more for Being Seen not Seeing. My commuter friend has a comparably huge light that cast an adequate amount of light for the two of us to ride closely once we were out of the city and into the black curtain that had enveloped the Wissahickon Park.

Riding at night by the river and the creek was very cool – the water is still, reflecting the boathouse lights and the headlights of cars zipping by under the cover of night. There’s no one around except us and we were able to slide through intersections with ease. We rolled up to our parting point about a mile or so from each of our houses and agreed Friday would be a train commute day.

And that’s how I got over 50 miles on my commuter bike in a single work day. That’s probably the longest distance I’ve ever done on that bike in a single day. Even last year I rented a road bike for a 50-mile day. Muscles still felt good – had some very minor stiffness the next day but not enough to need an ibuprofen.

It was very cool to see different parts of the city from two wheels. It’s so frustrating to try to drive in Philadelphia – but on a bike, you can keep moving and see so many other cool things.

In other news, I am about 278 miles short of my friend Matt’s challenge to hit 1,800 miles this year (triple last year’s total mileage). This feels so achievable as long as the weather holds out and I can keep riding.

See you on the road!

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