Cruise the Commonwealth

I feel like this might be the only thing that i’ve been talking about with anyone recently.  In a little less than one week, Emma and I are heading out to bike across the lovely Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  We are referring to is as Cruise the Commonwealth, in reference to the annual Crush the Commonwealth held each year in April.  The 2013 winner of the Crush the Commonwealth cross the state (Point State Park in Pittsburgh to the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia) in a little over 29 hours and 21 minutes.  Emma and I plan to take six days, hence the cruising and not the crushing.

This trip will be our second bike tour.  Last year we did Pgh to DC via the GAP/C&O.  The majority of that trip is on trails.  On this trip, we start out on the GAP, then get off and take PA Bike Route S from Rockwood to Valley Forge, where we connect with the Schuykill River Trail which takes you most of the way into the City of Brotherly Love.  Last year’s trip was about 275 miles.  This year’s tack’s on about 100 miles.  Last year our longest day was about 75 miles.  This year we’ll start off with about a 90 mile first day.  This year we will also have some significant hills to tackle.  Along the way we’re gonna stop and visiting some friends and family, maybe get to visit a pretzel factory and hopefully avoid getting rained on.

Our general itinerary:

1) Get on our bikes in Bloomfield and ride to Confluence, PA where we will camp at the Outflow Camping Area.  Still trying to figure out if the gap in the GAP between Southside and Homestead will be open so we can just take that or if we’ll have to do some funky maneuvers over the Glenwood or Homestead Grays Bridge to get to the GAP.  Might be a game day decision.

2) After leaving Confluence we’ll have about 20 miles left on the GAP.  Get off the trail, head north to Somerset and then turn east to Bedford.  The plan is to stay at a motel this night.

3) I think this will be the day that is the biggest challenge as we’ll run into the most hills this day and it’ll be a relatively long one (about 77 miles ) to get to Caledonia State Park.  We’ll camp out in the park.  Also this is the day that we’ll ride on the abandoned PA turnpike and go through the 2 abandoned turnpike tunnels.

4) A relatively short day of only 44 miles – of which is supposed to be less hilly and rolling through lots of beautiful Southcentral PA orchards — will bring us into York where my sister and her family live.  This was the primary goal of this trip, to roll into York and blow the minds of my nephews.  Hope to be in town by the time they get home from school, get to hang out and hopefully we are not too worn out.  If we’re not when we get there, they’ll make sure we are by the time we leave.

5) Planned for another short day so we could stay in York and visit our good friends Jesse and Hayley.  I went to school and York and graduated with Jesse.  Hoping to have some breakfast time hangout with them before heading off to Lancaster.  Were only gonna do about 30 or so miles that day, which will leave us a respectable 66 left for our last day into Philly.  We’re gonna stop in Leola (east of Lancaster city) to meet up with and hopefully stay with Casey (aka Sloth) from Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative.  I know Casey from the Lancaster punk scene when I was in college.  It’ll be good to reconnect.  Depending on several scheduling factors, we might try to ride up to Lititz to vist the Sturgis Pretzel Factory.

6) Final day of riding.  A little bit of highway times left until we get to Valley Forge where we pick up trails again.  Hopefully we’ll meet up with friends in Philly for some vegan chinese food or something, crash at someone’s house (still trying to find someone without pets.  help!!), and then spend some time in Philly during the day on friday.

Friday afternoon we’ll rent a car and drive the hour north to visit my folks.  We’ll have a nice day+ of country living before having to hop on the turnpike and head home via the rental car.  Probably will include a stop at Vegan Treats before getting back on the highway.

Some people would say that spending your week of vacation overexerting yourself on a bike so you can spend some fleeting moments with friends and family before rushing back to work is not an ideal vacation. At this point I disagree.  I may feel differently at the end of this.

I’ve lived in this state my whole life.  Grew up in Bucks County.  Spent 4 years in York going to college.  And I’ve spent 17 years in Pittsburgh now.  Over the years I’ve spent a good amount of time going back and forth across this state.  It’ll be exciting to do it in a whole new way and at a completely different pace.  I’m really looking forward to getting to experience this state I love in a whole new way.

Keep an eye on the ol’ twitter for updates of how things go.  I’ll post a complete trip rundown when I get back.  If you know of anything that you think we should check out along the way, please let us know.



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