I was overwhelmed with seriousness. Planning a two week tour meant there was a lot to do, and a lot of details to be finalized. I was so stressed about planning to ride that I couldn't ride. Even rides I'd normally undertaken for the heck of it became "training", as if a bike tour were the Tour de France. And so, I didn't go cycling.
And then I remembered. A friend, a fellow much younger than me, often uses the phrase "ride bikes" when more serious folks would use the word "cycling" or an equivalent. "Hey, wanna go ride bikes?" he'd say. Now "cycling" is a noble, sophisticated word, and a good one. But it's possible, just as I was, to get wheel-sucked into the serious of cycling and forget that it's just riding bikes.
My plans on Sunday had been to ride the Thun Trail from Pottstown to Reading and back, a 40 some mile stretch that mimics much of the trail conditions I'm facing in a few days. But I didn't want to. Riding the whole trail was an obligation. It's a job for a cyclist. I was just going to ride bikes. So instead of driving to the trailhead in Pottstown, I headed for Angstadt Road, a few miles from Reading. The trail becomes very interesting from here as it heads into the city.
The fun was back. I rode the Thun into town, past the downtown to the end of Baer Park, and back again. I'd never been up that far before, and the park was lovely:
I ventured off-trail to the edge of the downtown, and photographed my favorite building, a little fire hall with a large tower.
On the way back, I spotted a mural on the side of a trail bridge:
Mount Neversink, Reading's 'other' mountain. Mount Penn is the bigger rockpile, and has the best-known feature of the city, the Pagoda.
Back at the car, I felt so good I wanted to ride some more. I judged I had enough daylight, and so I rode the trail back to Gibraltar, another 2 or so miles towards Pottstown. Once there, I decided I wanted to see the town. While this meant riding Rt 724, I had noted the wide shoulders on my drive up. So I pedaled off the trail and headed towards my car.
Although I felt like a kid, gathering dusk forced me to skip this ice cream parlor in Gibraltar. Again, I'd have missed it buzzing by at 50 MPH:
And while traffic was passing me at 50 MPH, I stumbled across the Allegheny Aqueduct, a bridge for boats on the old Schuylkill Canal. Again my bike let me see something I'd miss otherwise:
I reached the car at 8:30, 18 miles later, still raring to go, but realizing I needed to leave. So after a few more photos in the fading light I packed up, secure in the knowledge that I needed to spend less time thinking about "cycling" and more about riding bikes.
Hey, wanna go ride bikes?