Bicycle Touring Along the Delaware

I’m a big fan of bicycle touring! My most recent trip began on July 21, 2013. Here’s the scoop: my family was invited to a wedding that was going to take place in Stockbridge, MA. My wife, being the awesome wonderful understanding person that she is, gave me the green light to bike up there and meet her and the kids. We were to stay at a house in Hillsdale, NY for the weekend, so that ended up being my destination.

I will do a separate post on the planning, routing, and equipment for bike touring. For now, if you are interested in seeing the route I took, you can check out the following links on RidewithGPS: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5.

For this particular trip, I enjoyed riding along the Delaware River for the first three days, averaging about 50 miles each day. The cycling was undulating, with a few steep climbs on day 3 especially. There are some wonderful quiet roads along this route, and they take you on each side of the river, so there are several opportunities to cross the river. I biked past Washington Crossing, through scenic towns such as Lambertville, and Frenchtown, and criss-crossed the Appalachian Trail numerous times. On day 4 I rode east across the state towards the Hudson, crossing it on Bear Mountain Bridge. The final day was the longest at 75 miles. My friend Tom joined me for the first 40 miles, and after some pretty brutal climbs, I joined up with the Harlem Valley Rail Trail for much of the final trek north. 

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My heavy bike at the Delaware Water Gap

I travel solo and self-supported. That means I carry all my own gear: tent, sleeping bag, food for the entire trip, stove, etc. It creates a rather heavy bicycle, but it’s a great way to go. All together, the bike is a bit over 30 pounds, and all the gear add up to an additional 40-50. Fortunately, the bike is built for it, and since much of the weight is food, I get a bit lighter each day!

It was a very pleasant trip. The weather was hot and humid, with a pattern that included a late-afternoon shower, clear evening, then rain at night, then clear again in the morning. If it’s going to rain, this is a pretty good way to go! I only had one flat tire and no other major mechanical issues. 

One can see lots of wildlife on a trip like this. I saw lots of deer, some foxes, and even a small black bear. I’m sure if I knew my birds better I would have seen lots of great ones. I need to work on this.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ll do separate posts on the variety of gear. If you’re interested in doing some bike touring, I highly recommend joining the Adventure Cycling Association. They have amazing resources, including maps, equipment, and even their own guided tours. 

I’ve done several other tours in the past, and try to do one week-long trip each year. Life sometimes gets in the way, but I’ve done my Skyline Drive trip (Waynesboro, VA to DC), my Lake Michigan Loop (South Haven, MI to Ludington, across on the ferry, then down to Chicago), and the Great Allegheny Passage/C&O Towpath from Pittsburgh to Washington DC. It’s a great way to travel!

Keep the rubber side down, friends!

Brian

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2 thoughts on “Bicycle Touring Along the Delaware

  1. Looking at your GPS tracker leaves me winded. I remember you mentioning the brutal climbs on facebook – does it help to ride with a friend during the tough legs of a tour or do you build more mental fortitude when you ride solo?

    • By the 5th day I was ready for a bit of company. If you look at the elevation profile for day 5, you can see that a huge chunk of it is uphill. For the first time in a very long time, I was actually nervous about this elevation profile. As it turned out though, it was mostly a very gradual change of elevation with lots of undulating hills. We also had a northeast wind that day…strange for summertime. It was great to have Tom pace me up some of those false flats and gradual climbs. Then, once I turned east on Route 44, my legs were still fresh enough to tackle the really hard climbs. In general, though, I prefer to ride alone on a tour. I like the solitude and, most of all, the freedom to go faster or slower, take detours, and stop whenever I want. That said, I love a really good group ride, but generally that is for short rides rather than tours. As for mental fortitude….when I was on my very first tour (on Skyline Drive, the northern leg of the Blue Ridge Parkway…EXTREMELY hilly) Abbi was with friends in Dallas. She told me afterwards that people would ask, “what if he doesn’t make it”. Well, that’s just not an option. No matter how tired you get, or how bad your legs hurt, you really do just have to keep going. There’s no bus to take, no follow vehicle, and no one to bail you out.

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