17 September 2007

The Perkiomen Trail

My first "away" ride. In other words, on Sunday, I actually drove to a riding location rather than riding from home. And the destination was the amazing Perkiomen Trail. It's a 20 mile stretch of gravel and pavement running from Green Lane near Boyertown, all the way down to Valley Forge where it meets the Schuylkill River Trail which, in turn, meanders all the way to Philadelphia. Unbelievable thing. It really is.

The trail was constructed on the old Reading Railroad tracks -- parts of it literally where the tracks used to be, cutting through hills with sheer rock face on one side and a 30 foot drop down to the creek on the other. Beautiful red rocks. The whole thing has an otherworldly feel to it. The way the world is supposed to be, almost. Clean, gorgeous creek-side villages, tiny road. Hell, the trail even has two roadside restaurants. Moccia's and Bethie's:

I decided to try the trail for a couple of reasons. First, I currently ride a cyclocross bike. If I don't venture off the road, what's the point? (By the way, I'm committed to learning my cyclocross dismount/mount process over the winter.) Second, this was one of the trails I read about last winter when I was eagerly awaiting the purchase of the Kona Jake.

Riding for 30 miles on mostly gravel and dirt was more than a little unusual and, of course, dusty. And it was cold. 58F standing still in the shade of the trail, and who knows what the temp was when I was riding. I wore my Specialized arm warmers the entire time and I needed them.

I celebrated the chillier temperature by exploring the small ski area called Spring Mountain. This only after riding up the only climb on the trail: a 12% grade which stretched for almost a mile over the mountain. 12% is just beyond my ability and I had to carry my bike the final 10 meters or so. On pavement, on a warmer day -- maybe later in the ride -- I might've been able to easily handle it.

It wasn't all gravel, though. The refreshingly smooth hum of macadam was more than welcome on the various trail bridges and near the populated areas. Unfortunately, I must've hit something weird because today (Monday) my rear tire is totally flat.

I can't really describe the Perkiomen Trail quickly on a blog and do it justice. But it's something good. I mean genuinely, surprisingly good and simple. A seemingly endless highway for clean, healthy fun. Next time, I'm bringing a better camera and my family.

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