Hurricane Sandy is bearing down on the eastern seaboard … so what better way to spend the day than to head into the city for the Philly Bike Expo!
The morning began with light rain when I woke, which means no bike riding. My partner in crime on this expedition, my commuter friend, agreed the train was probably the best idea since most weather forecasts were calling for heavy, consistent rain in the afternoon – about the time we would be riding home. The rain stopped by the time we got to the train station and didn’t bother to start up again until well after we returned to the suburbs.
Always a bummer to miss a ride opportunity but the wind would have made riding significantly subpar.
Upon arrival in Center City, we had an hour to kill so we headed to Bruegger’s Bagels for … bagels and coffee. Mine was toasted pumpkin with pumpkin schmear; his was toasted everything with hummus. Large coffees in hand we headed out to explore the city on two feet (instead of two wheels). Philadelphia is a city of so many vintage buildings, narrow alleys, and ornate architecture.
We talked about the stoops that still had boot scrapers and horse ties, apartment buildings with exceedingly narrow alleyways separating them with a single wooden door between them, artificial dead-ends, rooftop patios and oxidized ironworks. In one neighborhood we walked though the alley and were able to glimpse the life behind the massive rowhomes – an enclave of suburbia in the heart of the city.
We crossed over the new bridge over the railroad racks down by the Schuylkill River Park (which has an adorable new dog park for all the city puppies to play) and walked the multi-use path to get over to the expo.
The bike expo itself was small but fun. The first two-and-a-half hours we volunteered at the Philly Bike Club booth, talking to prospective members (and existing members) about the club and touting the benefits of membership. We managed to sell three! Met a lot of cool people and talked with many of the urban cyclists cruising by our booth.
Once we were turned loose, I tried out a Jamis Commuter – the handlebar shifter (8-speed internal hub) had a little picture of a person on a bike going up a hill (or zooming down a flat) instead of gear numbers. It was also whisper-quiet (internal hubs have no actual gears, as my friend discovered) and super cute but too heavy for my purposes. We checked out all the bike vendors, including the custom-made Italian carbon frames by Protek Bicycles and the sexy Cooper Bicycles. Lots of other vendors as well, including Road Holland (amazing polyesther/wool blend jerseys – seriously, I am jonesing to get my hands on one of their jerseys) and Swift Industries (Seattle-based pannier company).
With limited cash-in-hand, I picked up as much swag as I could and a $10 I Bike PHL t-shirt. We then headed south to My Falafel Bar for lunch (and the best falafel pita EVER) before ducking into the underground train station to head back home.
Now to hunker down with the family until the hurricane blows through. I won’t see you out on the road until then.