It has been a long time since sending out a ride report but I wanted to this time because this trip was somewhat special to me in many ways.
I had an all day meeting at the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill. I was a bit nervous because I was not sure sure how to get from Camden onto the bridge. The way I thought was not right and I was not sure how to commute over to Walnut Hill either. Yes, a map works wonders but for bike commuting, it is a little different.
The research: I tend, when doing something on my own, to research as much as possible. If it is buying a bike or learning how to commute, I do ask a lot of questions so I can visualize it in my head. I knew how to get from my place in Cherry Hill to my work at Campbell Soup in Camden so that was not an issue. I really had no clue how to get up to the bridge but after talking with a bike commuter at work, she wrote down the directions. They were spot on. I drove that little part on Sunday morning and found out it was in a little deeper into Camden then I am used to but what the heck, if I am going to die I will do so doing something I love. Next was trying to figure out which side was open and closed on the bridge. I had no clue they close and open one everyday and didnt know they had hours that limit use. But a couple people gave me the website so it was pretty easy with that. the Then there was where the heck to go after I get over the bridge. I looked to three people to help out. Indy, a commuter in the area and uses that area everyday and Cat, another commuter who I have ridden with before and knows a lot about the area, both being members of BF and also Kona, another member of BF who helped out too. I tried mapping it out before asking anyone but it proved to show that I know nothing about Philly. So it was a combination of all three of those people that helped create the route. Then I tried to figure out the route back with a little help from Indy. I felt pretty good.
Last night we had a sever storm with 30 plus mph wind, thunder, lightening and a lot of rain. With Cherry Hill and Camden, the roads EASILY flood so I knew it might not be a go for this trip which would have sucked because a lot of time and research went into this.
The morning time: All clear. I wanted to get an early start even though my meeting was not until 10 AM. I know all the chefs over at the Restaurant School so I knew it would not be wasted time. I left around 4:15 am and got to Campbells a little after 5 am. I had to do a little work and then made some breakfast and off I was around 5:40. The trip through Camden was not as quiet as what I drove early Sunday morning. It goes past this bus station and it is busy with people that I question the intent when looking at my bike. I know I know... it is not right to judge or assume the worst but I have learned a lot about Camden so it was a little nerve racking. I just pedaled faster! I got to the South side of the bridge and found the stairs. Now this was a real pain and I am paying for it in back pain right now. The stairs are VERY steep going up to the pedestrian path. I heard about this but did not realize how steep they really were. But the "neat" thing was that there was a little flat strip that one could roll your bike on while you walk the stairs. It did not work well. See, I was not using my road bike. Heck if I did, it would have been a breeze. But I was using my mtn bike commuter that had full panniers. It really hurt trying to get it up there. After I got it up there it was time to pedal. I knew that going over the bridge and into the city was not a race and I took that to heart. I enjoyed the sun rise, the noise of the traffic below and the quietness on the path. It really was nice. Then getting over the bridge was a breeze and of course you are greeted with a road of bone jarring cobblestone. After that, the pedal was on. I saw so many riders that I really felt like a community. I didnt realize how much of a loner I felt with commuting in Cherry Hill. Yes, I see a few commuters but they disappear in the winter time but in Philly, they are always there and a lot were out this morning. It felt like a great community and everyone said hi which was nice. Heck, I would say good morning to people in Camden this morning and they looked at me with craziness. I did get a change to scan a little all over while riding because traffic was quiet. The delivery trucks and taxi drivers were a little crazy but that was ok. The South Street Bridge was amazing with the truly dedicated GREEN bike lanes. I liked that! To be frank, all the roads were wonderful. I got to Walnut pretty early but I wanted to beat the morning traffic so mission accomplished. It was warm out but not bad but the sweat was rolling.
Go home time: I left around 1 PM and it was 90 degrees. I knew it was going to be hot so I filled the bottles with ice and a little water and off I went. I should have planned the ride home a little better because Philly is almost all one way streets and I got turned around a little but I figured it out. Traffic was much heavier but still manageable. I didn't have much opportunity to look around while riding. It was a lot of dodging of pot holes, ruts, watching out for traffic, lights, right hooks, and names of streets. But the nice morning ride was all I needed. There was a lot of traffic and it was backed up on the South Street Bridge but with the green bike lines, I didnt look back and it was a breeze. I got a little turned around looking for the bridge but I found it. Going over was really warm and more people running and riding. I got to those nasty stairs and headed down. A little easier but still awkward. I hope they really do something about that. The ride through Camden was a lot busier and the street with the buss stop was crazy. Camden is full of ruts, pot holes, and a lot of broken glass but I got through it and now I was off on my normal route. I had a little mechanical problem with my seat but fixed that. I wanted to ride to Voorhees which is past Cherry Hill but it is 10 more miles out of the way and to be frank, I was getting tired and hot.
The great: Going to commute over the bridge and seeing Philly on my own. Its much different when you follow someone. Not in a bad way at all but in the fact that it MAKES you learn your surroundings.
All in all, great commute. Total miles was 19 miles one way for a total of 38 miles. Eventually I would like to go on a tour using my mtn bike commuter so it was good to get the extra miles in. A few tweaks for bike fit need to be made.
Attached is a picture of my bike at the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill when I got there this morning.
I love to commute and try to get as many people ot at least try it once. Yeah it is hard at first but the feeling is amazing. I mean I saved so much in gas plus the $5 toll fee, no parking fee either and no need to go to the gym!