Thun Trail Ride
Saturday morning I was going to meet a bunch of Bike Forums posters for a ride on the Perkiomen Trail. But after working Friday night, I rolled over, looked at the clock, and went back to a troubled sleep. I had a dream that people took my bikes from me because I didn't ride 'correctly' - the right number of miles, the right bike, the right gear, etc. Perhaps it was prompted by my being out of shape from a horrible riding winter, perhaps it was from the straitjacket I find group rides to be.
Later that afternoon, I headed out to the Thun Trail, near Reading. I rode into town, passing the "spirit of the waters" sculpture on Penn Street.
I didn't ride too far in town, however, since PA's 5th largest city is on the slopes of a mountain. This photo, from the trail, shows Mount Penn in the distance. Note the Pagoda, Reading's claim to fame, atop the mountain. Last year's Assault on Mount Penn ride was a rainout, but I'll try that hillclimb again later this year.
On the way back I stopped at the trailside graveyard. This little family plot survived land grabs from the canal, railroad, and Rt. 422. The building in the photo is a explosive storage shed from the Reading Railroad.
I took a sip of water, put down my bottle on the stone fence, and went among the headstones to pay my respects. As I walked back I heard a hissing sound, and a rattle. I looked at my water bottle, and shouted "Doug! You're back!"
I left Doug the Diamond Back Anacondasin Mamba with my water bottle and headed back down the trail. I explored some of the little side roads along the trail and river, and stopped at the Allegheny Aquaduct as the light began to fade.
16 miles total riding. The only problem was my usual one with discomfort and chafing from the Brooks saddle. Frankly, if I can solve that problem, I can ride forever - the legs seem to work just fine despite the layoff over the winter.
Since we can never have enough Doug photos.....
Next time you do that ride you might want to consider continuing up along the river and then over the Schuylkill Ave. Bridge. Then down to the Tulpehocken Creek and use the Union Canal Trail up to the stilling basin below Blue Marsh Dam.
I tried that last summer, and became lost. I remember heading up a hill in the late afternoon to a basketball court with a bunch of 'youths' hanging out near the trail. This was shortly after the assaults on the SRT at Norristown, and despite my memories of the repeated assurances of certain folks in Bicycle Club of Philadelphia that 'youths' loitering in a group on the edge of a bike path at dusk is a Good Thing, I turned around.
Originally Posted by Whiteknight
I am assuming by basketball court I suspect that you had followed the trail up to the Schuylkill Ave. Bridge. Do not concern yourself with the folks at that playground. They leave trail users 100% alone. The city has a bicycle mounted officer assigned to that section of town and he rides the trail and the streets.
Originally Posted by The Historian
You go over the bridge. Once on the other side of the bridge you go down Blair Ave. to the last street on the right. Under a stone bridge and then into the parking lot for the Stonecliff Recreation area. The Union Canal Towpath Trail then goes up along the Tulpehocken Creek. This is a fairly scenic trail along what is left of the old canal on one side and the creek on the other. You then come to Gring's Mill. That is the park headquarters. Restrooms and a snack stand open in the summer months. Vending machines for drinks. Then continue up the creek to the Berks County Heritage Center. Another set of rest rooms, snack stand and drink vending machines. You might want to look at the old carriages and sleds on display in the building. The old Gruber Wagon Works is set up on the same property. Check out the big covered bridge. You can go on it and see how they constructed them in the 1800's. The bridge is home to a bat colony. Then up the creek is a set of restored canal locks. Continue up the creek and get on the new section of the trail that goes up to the base of Blue Marsh Dam. The second portion of this section has some dandy short steep hills to climb. If you then switch to the main road, at the stilling basin, you will go up to the dam's visitor center.
I would suggest not doing it on weekends. A lot of walkers on the path. Not very wide.
No need to worry about Norristown and the SRT. My wife and I have been doing that ride at least twice a week as soon as the snows melted. We see Norristown police parked along the trail at times. We also sometimes see a township police officer on a motorcycle on the trail. We have had no problems in that section at any time of the day. We have encountered area residents just walking on the trail. Give them a smile and they smile back and give you room on the trail. We use the boat launch at Hawes for a rest stop on the ride back from Philly. Generally older folks there who are real nice if you are pleasant to them.
Originally Posted by The Historian
An alert here. On Tuesday we went down into Philly. Where you drop off Nixon Street down to the Towpath trail they built a section of "road" out of course rock. It looks as if they will soon begin to demolish the old water works. Meaning heavy equipment and possible trail closing at times.
Two years ago they cleared out all of the trees around the buildings. The tree crew closed the trail without warning. When we went through in the morning they had the fencing stacked up. By late afternoon they had closed off the trail. We had to go back into Manayunk and then back on Umbria Street.