Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Day 40 - August 13 - Through the Amish country to the Philadelphia suburbs

Day 40 - August 13 -    Gettysburg, PA to West Chester, PA - 96.5miles (155.3kms) - total so far; 3253.3 miles ( kms)

Distance: 96.5 miles ( 155.3kms)
Total time: 8hrs34mins (including lunch stop) 
Average Moving Speed: 13.9mph (22.4 kph)
Maximum Speed:33.8mph (54.4 kph) 
Calories burned: 4873
Elevation gained: 4140 ft (meters)

Weather: After very heavy overnight rain and loud thunder, light rain till about 10am and then cloudy till after noon,  When the sun came out, the temperature rose to the low 80s (25-27C) and the day remained very sultry. No obvious wind.

Powered by:   Breakfast - 3 pancakes,scrambled eggs, muffin and yogurt.  Lunch of protein bar and 2 bananas, snacks of 1 Clif bar, 1 McFlurry,1 liters of Gatorade, I GU gel and 2 liters of water.

My good fortune with the daily weather continued for another day and the forecast for the next two days to my finish is spectacularly good.  Overnight, I was wakened a couple of times by loud thunder claps and very heavy rain.  In the morning, the local forecasters reported that 2-4 inches of rain (5-10cms) had fallen and that a flash flood warning was in effect.  Roads were flooded with standing water in many places and many rivers had overflowed their banks.  It was still raining steadily till about 9am and I postponed my departure by a visit to a diner for huge breakfast.  By the time I was finished,the rain had eased to a light drizzly rain.  I still was splashed by passing trucks but what had looked like a wet ride turned into a dry, though sweaty one.  I was surprised to see the elevation gain was over 4000 feet since I remembered only one sizable climb. I passed into and back out of the Susquehanna river valley, rode through the gently rolling Amish countryside along the backbone route of that lovely landscape (rte 340) and climbed and then descended the hills in west exurban Philadelphia.  The early part of the ride was along the old Lincoln highway to York and I saw my first cardinal (no, not a Prince of the Catholic Church, but the bird) there.  It's one of the few birds that I instantly recognize and I've also seen quite a few orioles (another bird I recognize).

Back on the old Lincoln Highway, US route 30 

Bridge over the  Susquehanna, about half-mile long. Nice walkway on both sides

One of the marked bike routes across Pennsylvania  

I followed a couple of different marked bike routes but it seems that the marking only tries to indicate 'bike friendly' roads with lighter traffic and wider shoulders.  As has been the case almost every day, I did not see any long-distance cyclists, but raced a couple of kids in Lancaster at their insistence.  It was a bit like a handicapped horse race since I was weighed down with heavy saddlebags.  They won.

An old movie theater in  Lancaster, PA now converted into condos

Pennsylvania Dutch (Amish) country near Intercourse

Nice shoulder on Rte 340 accommodates Amish horse and buggies

An Amish man on his scooter,working hard up a slight gradient with his basket of groceries

The highlight of the day was the ride along rte 340 east of Lancaster to White Horse through the heart of the Pennslyvania Dutch country. (It should be Deutsch but got corrupted; they are of German, not Dutch heritage). The changes that have occurred over the 40 years since I was first through the area are not as evident as in other tourist areas, though I don't remember all the buggies and drivers for hire and the density of settlement seemed higher.  The road and others in the area are great for biking since the shoulder (margin) is wide and well-maintained; it easily accommodates a buggy and drivers in the area seem more cautious and slower because of all the horse-and-buggy traffic.  I saw quite a few Amish on scooters with baskets of groceries, propelling themselves along with their legs at a good pace. It looked like quite a workout to me and many seem to be traveling a few miles at least.  As I passed one middle-aged man pushing furiously using alternate legs, I remarked that it seemed like quite a workout and he replied "cheaper than a health club machine".

All good times must end and they did when I met the edge of Megalopolis near Coatesville, where exurban Philadelphia starts and later merges imperceptibly into suburban Philadelphia. Of course, I had noticed the strip development between the towns near York and Lancaster and it was a relief not to be confronted with business driveways, signs, traffic in and out, and just plain ugliness in the Amish countryside.  I arrived at rush hour as has been my custom and has happened many times before, was met with pushy drivers who seemed to be in a big rush to get somewhere.  A couple came too close and they received my usual Italian salute.

I have less than 100 miles to the ocean now and tomorrow, I'll traverse the Philadelphia built-up area to suburban New Jersey about 25 miles from the ocean and finish the 'mad journey' early on Thursday.  Tomorrow does not promise to be a pleasant ride but hopefully, the day after will compensate.

1 comment:

  1. It seems there are many possible Italian salutes you could be giving. Can you clarify which of the following you prefer?

    Rude Italian Hand Gestures

    I'm assuming you're avoiding 2-handed salutes in traffic, so perhaps the 3rd (what the f) or 1-handed versions of the 4th or 5th (go f yourself).

    Though I can't stop laughing about the thought of you giving the 2nd (little willy) or 6th (you're dead).