It’s been almost 2 years since the last bike trip and after a solid month of long hours and weekends at work I decided I needed a little break from the city. Being new on the east coast, I asked a friend and others on cycling forums and made plans for a 3 days trip along the Delaware River which borders Pennsylvania and New Jersey state. My friend suggested a slightly longer route, but I wanted to keep it on a more relaxed tempo, so I followed the river from Port Jervis down to Trenton.
I woke up early and the sky was grey outside, but I knew it would get better later on the day. I had already postponed the trip for a day due to rain. I took the train from Penn Station NY early in the morning. The trip to Port Jervis was two hours, enough to catch up with sleep in the train for a little.
I got out, had a second breakfast at the first local cafe and started cycling south. Within half an hour the overcast started clearing up and the warm sun came out. I picked the New Jersey side of the river as I was told it is more scenic and quieter than the north bank. It had a few extra hills to climb, but I’d much rather have that than cycle within truck traffic.
Around 2pm I found my self a nice spot by a stream and had an hour long break and lunch that included avocado, tomato, a broken egg, cheese, carrots and fruits. Just as I was packing my stuff to leave, I noticed that all this time there was a snake staring at me just a couple of meters away from me. I guess I took its spot and was waiting for me to leave.
In contrast of my previous bike trips during the early Autumn months, I noticed nature was at an orgasm in such a nice spring day. The trees were full of leaves, flowers on the soil, thousands of bugs all around me, worms on the tarmac and birds everywhere. I met a family of three bears on the road, saw foxes, horses, fireflies and cycled behind a deer for a few hundreds of meters. Along all these, there was tons of pollen in the air, which gave me an allergy by the end of the trip.
The ride continued within the very scenic state forest. I took all the back roads where I barely saw any cars and signal on my phone. By 6pm I got to the Worthington State Park which has a camp ground and called it a day. In contrast to the west coast, here there are no hikers/bikers spots or discount and the cost for a night was $30. Even if that’s relatively quite a lot for just one person and a tent, it was worth it. I found an isolated spot with a nice view to the river, exactly what I wanted.
After a very good night sleep, I woke up made my breakfast and started packing my things to depart. That’s when I noticed a tick was stuck on my thigh. I freaked out and pulled it out, but it did leave a circle. The campground had signs warming about ticks and Lyme disease. I talked with the park ranger and she said that I should be fine, since the tick wasn’t there long enough. I ended up visiting the doctor back home to make sure and he also said that I should be fine. He gave me a medicine as a precaution and up to this moment I haven’t seen any other symptoms.
I crossed the bridge over the river to the Pennsylvania side of the river and continued south. I stopped in various little towns and picked up a sandwich from Belvidere.
It took me quite a while to find a nice spot by the river to have my lunch break. Once again, it seems like most of the land in the US next to rivers and lakes is private property, prohibiting you from even stepping on it. I ended up on wrecked bench opposite a factory, with some view to the river.
Just after lunch, I got to Easton which had a nice surprise for me. From this point to the south, there is an old canal running parallel to the river and in-between the two a trail for me to ride away from traffic and cars. Even though it isn’t flat tarmac but loose gravel, it is so much nicer than riding within cars. I took it slow and enjoyed the ride for the rest of the afternoon.
Every now and then I would stop to take a photo, have a snack and enjoy the scenery. Being on the trail made all the difference and it’s exactly what I needed for a break from the hectic life in the city. The canal was build in the early 1800 by Irish workers and it was used for about a century for trade, before steam trains took over.
At some point there was a construction blocking the trail. The last bridge for the main road was 3km behind me and I didn’t feel like cycling back. I noticed a path to the main road right next to the construction, but it had a ‘no trans-passing’ sign. I thought it should be fine to ride these 100 meters just to get to the road. Within the first few meters, I heard a furious lady shouting at me and seconds later an even more furious husband running towards me. Luckily he wasn’t holding a gun. I stopped and he started yelling at me about how many people cycle over his property and asked me what’s wrong with ‘us people’. I calmly said to him I had no intention of causing trouble and asked him why he doesn’t put a sign at the last bridge indicating the coming dead end. He looked at me in awe and said that was a great idea. He apologized and wished me a good evening.
Half an hour later, I got to my second camp ground. This time it was a private one right by the trail. Even though I am always reluctant on private ones, this one was actually good. The owner was nice and only charged me $10 for the night. The site was almost empty as it was a weekday. I put my tent up and I noticed the neighbors drinking one can of beer after the other in front of their fire pit. It didn’t take long for them to offer me one, so I went by and spent some time with them. It was a nephew and an uncle staying in a caravan, that both had served the army. I heard various stories from Afghanistan and other parts of their lives. They also gave me some information about things to see next day further south.
Once again I
over-slept really well and started my day around 10 after breakfast. I joined the trail again that followed the canal and went through even more old villages and towns. It was nice reading all the side signs with stories and facts about the history of the canal. The houses were mostly Victorian, blending nicely with the environment.
At Lumberville I crossed back to the New Jersey side of the river. There were a few towns to grab lunch but also the trail had much finer easier to ride gravel. Further down at Lamberville, I spend a little bit of time cycling around the nice old town. Many people asked me on the road from where I am coming from and where I am heading to, but this time I noticed this old man running behind me trying to catch my attention. He finally caught me a traffic light and ended up chatting with him for almost 20 minutes about various topics. Gary brought up a severe cycling accident he had 2 years ago, where the doctors initially thought he was going to die the same day, but he made it. Even thought everyone was saying he would end up depressed and alcoholic after recovering from his coma and temporary memory loss, he said that this accident changed his life to the better. He looked happy with a big smile and he said he now talks and hugs everyone on the street. Life is too fragile and short, so let’s make the most out of it, he said among other wise words. A random person shouted to him from the other side “hey big talker, leave the man alone” I laughed and kept talking to him. In the end we hugged and he let me off.
Heading further south I had a short stop at the Washington Crossing to see the historic park there. Trenton was just around the corner from there.
Even thought I had plenty of time, I decided to go straight to the train station as the overcast was getting thicker and thicker and I could feel some rain drops. Getting back to Penn station at a rush hour, it was a big shocker after 3 days of zen in the country side. I cycled in the busy roads of NY for half an hour and got home early enough for dinner.