Sunday, November 23, 2014

New Jersey - Intermission

Besides having a wonderful time visiting with family, I rode a 200k perm, the Independence Hall 200k, Princeton Start.  I did have someone to ride with me, but she broke her wrist a few days before, and couldn't ride :-(  Other folks thought about it, looked at the weather, and decided to pass. (50% chance of rain, clearing off by noon, NNW wind).  Riding solo again.  This being New Jersey, the cue sheet was 4 pages...

The night before, I had a lot of conversations with myself about riding.  Or not riding.  But it was just about my last chance for my October 200k, plus states nine and ten.  And I did want to see the Liberty Bell.

I was staying with the aunt and uncle who lived reasonably close to the start, and my aunt dropped me off at the start.  As my fellow rider was to be bringing the cards and she couldn't be there, the perm owner left a card in a baggie under a chair outside the coffee shop.  Found it!

The start was the Grover's Mills Coffee Shop, with a heavy alien theme - War of the Worlds, the actual Grover's Mill being right around there.  Coffee and a pastry, and I started out.  It was raining, off and on.  The forecast had me thinking I'd be blown all the way to Philadelphia, and have to work on the way back, but the wind spent the whole morning being undecided.

I had loaded the track into the MapsWithMe app on my phone, which was fortuitous because the gps app I was using decided the route had no cues (yes it DID), and it being wet and gloomy, I ran my light all day, which precluded keeping my phone charged.  I only got misplaced a few times on the way back, it being dark, and all.

So, riding varied from rural to suburban.  Lots of little towns.  Fields.  Suburbs.  Some office parks.  White Pine Rd, and don't go bombing down it, there are some killer potholes.  There was a road closure in Jacksonville, but the fireman blocking the road very kindly told me how to get back on route.

Quiet road

The longest stretch with no turns was Union Mill Rd, leading up to the control at a Wawa Market.  I had gotten quite fond of these on the ride up from Virginia - as long it was one of the gas station stores, there was a consistent selection of the important things in life - chicken nuggets, V-8, soft pretzels, nuts, Fig Newtons, cheese sticks, bananas, and Gatorade.

Shortly after the control, the route turned west, and headed toward Camden, NJ, by way of Cherry Hill.  Lots of riding along the Cooper River, and then I found myself in Camden.  Riding through Camden was slow - not that it was long, but there were lots of traffic lights.  Also lots of police (!)

From Camden, I was to ride over Ben Franklin Bridge to Philadelphia.  This would be fun.  There were steep stairs leading up to the pedestrian/cyclist path.  That wasn't fun.  But then I was heading across the bridge, and it was wonderful.  The roadway is below, and the view was fantastic.

Steep steps on the Camden side

Pedestrian deck, Benjamin Franklin Bridge, Camden to Philadelphia

The bridge dumped me right into old Philadelphia.  Got a drink at the control, and then scooted over to check out the Liberty Bell from the outside of the building.

The Liberty Bell

Also Independence Hall.

Independence Hall selfie

But time was getting short and I needed to get moving.  I was over the bridge, through Camden, and out to Cherry Hill in considerably less time than it took to get through there the first time.  Hmm.  Maybe the wind decided to help out?

The rain had given it up by the time I got back to Camden, not to be seen the rest of the day.  It didn't warm up much, though; I was wearing all the extra riding gear I had carried and not yet used on the trip.

What else?  The route goes by many Shop-Rite markets :-)  Back through all the little towns and suburbs.  Called my aunt at about 26 miles out.  They planned to get dinner at the restaurant right by the finish, and get some takeout for me (another trip goal - east coast Chinese food!).

It started getting dark soon after that, making navigation a rather more challenging.  Traffic had picked up, and the headlights didn't help.  Mercer Park was a wonderfully quiet oasis.  Almost done...

Wait, this road doesn't seem right!  Another visit with MapsWithMe, and I navigated myself back to the route.  Finally pulled into the shopping center.  My aunt said she couldn't miss me, I was so lit up and visible :-)

Certainly not the fastest 200k I have ever ridden, but completed in plenty of time.

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