It's back on. After a hectic couple of weeks of sporadic-at-best biking, I set out this afternoon, a long-needed decent night's sleep under my belt, to kick start the riding regimen. This ride needed to be not only big, but the biggest (at least the biggest this year). I decided on Valley Forge and then some.
There was, yes, a stinkin CSX train blocking the Schuylkill Park trail this morning. I guess I thought CSX was, like, a train company, but maybe they're the valet parkers of the locomotive world. Perhaps they all wear little red vests. Whatever. The park itself has been closed on and off over the last couple of weeks as they complete what I imagine were the original plans for the thing, adding benches, trees and actual grass. The place is gonna look sweet. Which means that yes, there will be more pedestrian traffic, but even I can't complain about that. If there's any one thing this city needs, it's more places to just sit and take the city in.
I stopped briefly at Falls Bridge to adjust a pedal (8 miles in) and at the Conshohocken rest stop for a Cliff Bar and Gatorade (16 miles in) and decided that, from there, I would see how far I could go without resting/stopping whatever. I rode out past Valley Forge to Perkiomen Valley State Park which took me to a gravel path where I turned around (30 miles in) and rode all the way back to Falls Bridge (about 51 miles in) where I hopped off the bike and stretched out my aching legs. So that's about 35 miles of unadulterated pedalling, probably my longest such stretch.
The ride was largely quiet. Reminded me a bit of Alan Sillitoe's The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, a short book I read on a train somewhere in Europe during my continental adventure with Ed and Pete some 10 years ago. Not that I actually remember much of what the book was about; I have very poor plot retention, people. Ask me about a plot point in a book I've read or a movie I've seen and I'll be of no use. Most of what I remember about books and movies are the mood they create, how they made me feel. And today's ride had a Sillitoe thing going on. (As I recall, Loneliness was maybe about a dood who was maybe in a juvenile detention center, who maybe ran long distances to work out his aggression. I could be very wrong here.)
Highlights: Saw two groundhogs and a groundhoglet(?), one fawn and, best by far, a fox, or at least that's what I'm guessing the reddish-brown, white-tip-tailed, dog-sized thing that streaked across the path in a sleek, bounding motion reminiscent of the jungle cats on the Marlin Perkins-hosted Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom (and for that matter, wtf is up with that show? Mutual of Omaha is an insurance company). Also of note: There's a place just a few miles from Valley Forge where the trees along the path vanish, giving you a clear, 100-yard view of the Schuylkill, which is -- who knew? -- absolutely gorgeous right there.
My legs are sore. I see icepacks in my future. The deets: 59.03 miles, 3:29:51, avg speed 16.878 mph, top speed 39 mph. Non-commute miles, year-to-date, 821.60
Song of the day: CocoRosie's cover of Damien Jurado's "Ohio" on the CD you get with the June issue of The Believer.