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By D&L Guest Blogger: Lincoln Steward
Once again I’m planning to ride from Easton to Bristol, then Bristol to Mountain Top, and back to Esaton on the D&L Trail in a single ride. Last year’s attempt was a great success, and a thorough account of the event can be found here:
Last year, I also wrote a very detailed description of who I am, why I came up with the idea for this ride, and the particulars involved in preparing for such an intensive activity. That can be found here:
The official plan is to start at the confluence of the two rivers and first head down the Delaware Canal to its southern end in Bristol. Then I will turn around, pass through Easton as I follow the Lehigh Canal to its northern end at Glen Summit, where I will reverse again to complete the journey in Easton.
My Proposed Timetable:
Start in Easton…………………………………………………….10:00a
Easton to Bristol………………………60 miles…5 hours….3:00p
Bristol to Easton……………………..60 miles…5 hours…..8:00p
Easton to Jim Thorpe……………..48 miles…4 hours…12:00a
Jim Thorpe to Mountain Top….35 miles…3 hours….3:00a
Mountain Top to Jim Thorpe….35 miles…3 hours….6:00a
Jim Thorpe to Easton……………..48 miles…4 hours…10:00a
Total…………………………………….286 miles…24 hours
My ride will actually start at my home in Nazareth, and hopefully finish with me riding back home afterwards. This should put my total mileage somewhere just over 300.
While I do not have a partner riding the entire distance with me this year, I should have company during the entire ride. While there are a number of people that have offered to ride shorter segments of this ride with me, there are two I would like to mention. Jason Frederickson will ride the entire day shift along the Delaware Canal section (Easton to Bristol and back), and Curt Byler will be joining me for the overnight adventure on the Lehigh Canal (Easton to Mountain Top and back).
Who should join me and why?
This is an event that has something to offer riders of ALL experience levels. Let’s say you’re entirely new to riding, and want to see what the trail is all about. Perhaps you’re a parent trying to instill in your children an interest in outdoor activities. Children and beginners alike are welcome to join the very beginning of this ride, as we will be rolling out at a very casual pace. The start time is 10:00, which should be before the heat of day the rises, but not too early that you need to disrupt your Saturday morning sleep. After only 4 miles, there is an ice cream stand located just off the trail. This is a great place to treat yourself to a well-deserved snack, and also serves as a convenient turn-around point for those who only want to experience a small section of the trail without getting too excited about riding a high number of miles.
For the novice rider looking to see more of the trail, I welcome anyone to join in for as few or as many miles as you feel comfortable. The very beginning will the easiest place to find me, but if you’re wanting to jump in at a different point on the trail, later in the day, I will be broadcasting via the internet a GPS track that will leave a “breadcrumb” trail on a map in real time. This will make it possible to follow my progress, and know approximately when and where to meet up with me.
There are several benchmarks that cyclists often strive to meet. One is the century, or a one-hundred mile ride. Anyone could start off with me Saturday morning, and decide to turn around at the 50 mile point (just past Morrisville) to complete this goal upon returning to Easton. Another cycling goal is the double-metric century (200 kilometers, or 124.3 miles). The ride from Easton to Bristol and back will put you within a few miles of this achievement, and possibly even complete that before sunset.
Another aspect of this ride that makes it unique is the overnight portion. Riding in the dark can be very fun, especially if you’re prepared with the proper lighting equipment. There are eyeballs reflecting back at you from in the woods, or you may hear a critter of some sort scurrying through the weeds next to the trail. Things that you wouldn’t notice during the day may give you a brief moment of panic, or your mind can play tricks on you in the wee hours of the morning when it’s used to being asleep, and you may imagine something that isn’t even there out of the reflections and shadows created by your own headlight. Keep an eye on the GPS tracker to see exactly where I’ll be, but I should be rolling back through Easton sometime before sunset Saturday evening.
For anyone interested in riding the entire D&L ride, you already know what a ridiculous undertaking this is. It is by no means “normal” to ride a bicycle for the distance and amount of time I have planned, and it is not a venture to be taken lightly. You don’t just wake up Saturday morning and decide, “I think I’ll go for a 300-mile gravel bike ride today.” You decide back in February that you want to do this, and spend months preparing and training. More information on that here:
To be clear, I will be riding at whatever pace feels comfortable to ME. Being that I may be riding for a full 24 hours, I can’t be pushing too hard or I may burn out before completing the ride. I also don’t want to be forced to ride at a pace that is uncomfortably slow, otherwise that 24 hours could easily turn into 30. That being said, if you join me and the pace isn’t fast enough, feel free to go on ahead, I will not be offended. Also, if you can’t quite keep up at my speed, please don’t be upset if I don’t slow down for you.
One more point I’d like to be clear on is that you are responsible for yourself out on the trail. This is not (yet, anyway) an organized ride that you paid money to participate in, so there are no services being provided. Always make sure you are prepared for whatever may come your way. This means bringing enough water, food (if needed), and tools to handle any mechanical issues that may arise, especially including flat tire repairs. You should let someone know you’re heading out, and always have a bail-out plan – someone to call to pick you up, just in case things don’t go as planned. And always wear a helmet.
A personal note
As far as I know, to date, only two people have ever completed this ride. Besides myself, Mr. Scott Pretti of Bethlehem joined me last year for the first-ever attempt at traversing the D&L Trail in both directions in a single ride. He was planning on joining me again this year, but was forced to take most of this riding season off due to some health concerns. He is looking to recover fully and is already making plans on joining me for the third annual D&L ride next year.
Earlier this year the local cycling community lost a dear friend to cancer. Kevin Sheman is the other person who will be in my thoughts over the course of this year’s ride. If he was still with us, there is a good chance he would be the third person to ever complete this ride.
I absolutely love bicycling. I want to share that experience with the community by turning this into a bigger, annual summer event, a reason for everyone up and down the Delaware and Lehigh Valleys to get out and enjoy the D&L Trail, and perhaps meet some new, like-minded people.