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Old 04-30-08, 09:11 AM   #1
Neil_B
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Neils On Wheels Split Up!

Well, sort of.

As Neil F. and I have reported on the Touring forum, we had angry words exchanged during the last day of our overnight camping tour. For several miles we rode separately. But these two headstrong Capricorns were able to unlock their horns over ice cream at Moccia's in Schwenksville, and so all the dispute was good for was to make an attention-grabbing intro to a ride report.

This overnight trip was to be the first time camping for both of us. And since we are going to be riding on a gravel trail and camping 3 or 4 nights, I chose the best test track I could find - Green Lane Park and its Deep Creek Lake Campground:



Green Lane is the final stop on the Perkiomen Trail, which consists largely of gravel and cinder for its 20 mile course:



We were off to a delayed start Saturday morning - one Neil forgot to seal his tent. (Since I left out last names, you can guess who.) Both bikes were wobbly, and mine excessively so, since I decided for some odd reason to carry both rear panniers and a trailer. We sped downhill along Rt. 23, stopped at the Revolutionary War Cemetery in East Vincent:



Then through Phoenixville to the new trailhead on the Schuylkill River Trail. We followed it up to Audubon, and visited Mill Grove, the John James Audubon home, which is a museum devoted to the artist's work. Here we see a first edition of the Birds of America, the so-called "double elephant folio" (named for the size of the pages):



Neither Neil wanted to ride our bikes down the 9 per cent grade on the trail at Mill Grove, so we returned to the Perkiomen Trail and trudged north. We were passed by another Clydesdale poster, "freemti" on HIS trip north to camp, and didn't find out about it until after we got back.

The threatened rain held off for most of the day, and we arrived at Green Lane around 5:00 PM, 36 miles later. We learned how to pitch our tents, and Neil F. put my stove to use - I cheated and brought a hoagie for dinner. We befriended Patrick, a student at a nearby college who was having trouble with his stove. Our new friend was training for a possible hike of the Appalachian Trail this summer, so Neils on Wheels were happy to provide "trail magic" for him and let him use my stove. Besides, in a camp filled with obese RV users, the non-motorized campers had to stick together. We retired about 8:30 PM, and I was soon asleep.

We awoke the next morning to a cold and overcast sky. It had rained and thundered overnight, and while we were dry, the ground and tents were a mess. Thanks to breakfast, inexperience, and sloth, we took three hours to break camp. I didn't notice the strain my friend Neil was under that morning. I said and did things as we were leaving that wouldn't have been a problem under other circumstances, but pushed my friend to the breaking point. The break happened when, in a moment of annoyance, I told Neil I was sorry I brought him out for the ride. This was not only hurtful, but also a lie. And the lie did its damage. So I rode on alone for about eight miles along the Perkiomen Creek.



The sun had come out, and the sunlight reflected off the creekbed rocks as the water danced southward. I was riding my bike amid glorious nature, having successfully camped for the first time in my life, and I couldn't enjoy it as I should because of my thoughtlessness towards someone I care about. I pushed onwards, hoping I'd catch up to Neil and I could apologize. He wasn't in Green Lane Borough. He wasn't at the bridge at Spring Mount, nor at the 12 percent grade near that bridge. I passed Patrick hiking back to his dorm and asked him how long before Neil F. had passed. "15 minutes" he said. My heart sank. Neil F. could maintain that lead and make it to the trail end without my catching up. All he needed to do was head south on the Schuylkill River Trail to Norristown, where he could catch a train to take him home without seeing me again. I tried to pick up speed and pedaled on. My rear panniers were stuck in my trailer, so while I didn't weigh much less, I was more stable, and could ride faster.

Fortunately for me, Moccia's is directly on the trail, and Neil has a fondness for milkshakes. They were open that morning, and he stopped for one:



I caught Neil mid-slurp, and apologized. He smiled and let me ride with him the rest of the way.

The only additional landmark we visited was Lock 60 of the Schuylkill Canal, across the river from Phoenixville:



We arrived at my home about ten after four, Neil F. pulling in about ten minutes before me because I needed to stop for water. 70 miles for the weekend, and despite some unpleasantness and tension, a triumph for Neils on Wheels. As usual.
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Old 04-30-08, 11:02 AM   #2
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Arguments aside, it was a damn good ride. Gravel is fun!

We saw a few roadies get to the gravel bits and turn around. One guy asked us how far the gravel went; we saw another shouldering his bike across a mile of gravel. Of course, how much one enjoys gravel depends on one's tires.

I'm running MTB wheels, so I'm set. Neil's bike seems to do well on challenging surfaces, but he'll definitely benefit this June from the cross tires he has on order.

Arguments...Neil knows I prefer not to air this stuff, but suffice to say we were both being poopy and loud and grumpy, and it's nobody's fault. We made nice at the trail cafe.

We're planning to build in some solo sections into future rides; riding with a partner is awesome, but so is solo riding, and there's no reason we can't have both on the same ride.
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Old 04-30-08, 11:09 AM   #3
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Sounds and looks like a very nice trip, although I could do without the rain. Friends that can argue and then go on, are the best!
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Old 04-30-08, 11:16 AM   #4
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I am a Grumpy git ---Don't class myself as an old grumpy git yet. I had a riding partner who knew when I was getting tired on the bike- I got grumpy. We did a lot of rides together and it was me that got grumpy- that was my tired sign. His tired sign was that he used to get lost on well marked trails--And thats when I got grumpy after a 15 mile detour to get back to the trails.

Thing is we were great mates- and although it never got heated- We recognised each others signs and always got the ride done.

And the rides looks great-but for lumpy gravel- do look for wide tyres. Doesn't have to be an aggressive tread- but the wider the better--- (Up to a point)
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Old 04-30-08, 12:20 PM   #5
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Old 04-30-08, 12:51 PM   #6
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What a nice looking ride. It looks out of this world, or at least out of my world.
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Old 04-30-08, 01:14 PM   #7
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Nice ride, and an enjoyable well-told tale.

I was tossing up between two DVDs, wondering which to watch, and I reckon I'll go the hard-hitting action drama now. The 'feel good' appetite is now sated
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Old 04-30-08, 01:35 PM   #8
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Ahh public fights in campgrounds, the memories, the memories. I'll never forget Jim and Kevin, chasing each other around the campground one with a butcher knife, the other with a really big meat fork, all the loud cussing, the threats, all the little campers in the campground scurrying to disappear so they would not have to testify at the trial.... That was a great float trip.
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Old 04-30-08, 08:55 PM   #9
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Arguments...Neil knows I prefer not to air this stuff, but suffice to say we were both being poopy and loud and grumpy, and it's nobody's fault. We made nice at the trail cafe.
What's this "WE" business, Grumpasarus?
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Old 04-30-08, 09:06 PM   #10
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Make-up ice cream is the best.
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Old 04-30-08, 09:10 PM   #11
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Make-up ice cream is the best.
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Old 05-01-08, 06:57 AM   #12
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Make-up ice cream is the best.
I suppose I should have said, "Mine was great. How was yours?"
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Old 05-01-08, 08:09 AM   #13
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You know, you take great photos. I can related to your story. 30 years ago I was in a similar situation. But instead of a bike ride it was a close friend and I working to put a new engine in a VW bug. It was cold, windy, and we were outside working. At one point he said, "I'm sorry I asked you to do this." He too didn't really mean it, as I later found out. However, as you say, "the damage was done." In our case it took a few beers and a large pizza to help mend the tear in the relationship.

Now with all of that said, I was most amused by your description of rain and tents being a mess. It brings back memories. I guess it's one of the reasons that I now consider camping as staying at a hotel without cable TV.
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Old 05-01-08, 08:25 AM   #14
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One of my close friends and I rode the RAGBRAI a few years ago. She was being poopy, for a number of reasons. We had been riding together the whole time, but on about day 3 she made some poopy comment and I had had it. I took off at a pace that was faster than my normal one and a lot faster than hers. I dropped her like a lead balloon. After about an hour I stopped and waited for her to catch up. When she finally showed up she was very relieved to see me and happy I had waited. She said, "I'm sorry," and that was that. Spat over.

Riding a long ride together is like any other stressful, exhausting situation. Tempers are short and minor irritations magnify. It sounds like you were able to work it out.
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