Bumpy trails, bleeding heads, boys running with oars, and angry geese…Must be spring!

With the fair-weather crowds, I’ve been riding mostly on the west side of the river. A few more bumps on the trail over there, but when faced with rollerbladers meandering the crowded trails alongside dogs on long leashes and mobs of friends walking side-by-side, I’ll take the bumps. (One can connect to the east side via the East Falls Bridge.) I suppose this will be one up-side when the oppressive heat hits us this summer. We’ll reclaim the trails!

Recent happenings/sightings on the commute include:

A cyclist (on a fold-up) with a bleeding head. She was hit near the Market St Bridge and appeared to be ok, but wow was there a lot of blood. Yikes. Wear helmets and be safe!

A high school crew team running along the trail with oars, yes OARS!, in each hand. What kind of coach sends twenty 16 year-old boys off on an extremely crowded trail to run with giant sticks? I almost stopped to take their picture, but I feared getting whacked in the head.

Poor use of taxpayer dollars example #402,003: A policeman who sits at the Walnut St. entrance to Penn Park periodically in order to tell the occasional cyclist entering to walk their bikes on the nearly deserted ramp to the park.

Angrier than normal geese. Must be mating season. Careful out there!

The crazy things people do, another alternative while the trail is still closed, and views from the train…

The trouble with nice weather is that it brings out the crowds, and with the crowds come the crazies. Here’s one example: On Tuesday I was biking home from work, enjoying the beautiful weather when I found myself behind two cyclists and a blind corner up ahead. I fell in slowly behind them, waiting for a safe place to pass. When we got around the corner, I saw ahead of them a small child on his bicycle, weaving back and forth haphazardly, and his mother, several steps behind…on her cell phone. On an open trail with few people around? Maybe. But this was not the place for negligent parenting (and yes,  there are good–or at least better…Ok, fine, acceptable?–places for negligent parenting). The three of us on the bikes slowed down almost to a standstill to allow the child and mother to pass. At that point, apparently, there were some words exchanged by the mother and the cyclist in front of me, and the next thing I know I see the mother, still on her cell phone, start yelling obscenities at the cyclist and sticking her foot out repeatedly at her wheel (to kick it? get run over? not sure…). Now, I’m a mother, and I would love to stick up for the mom here. I take my kids on trails a lot, and I have run across some real jerks on bicycles who seem to think that children should be locked up away from all trails. But the cyclist in front of me was certainly not one of them. I can only feel for the child..If only I could force people like that (the mother, I mean) to read my trail etiquette post!

In other exciting news, my bicycle is out of the shop and running great. Thank you so much to the guys at Wisshickon Cyclery I think the improvements have probably cut 5 minutes or so off my commute. See Jane ride. See Jane be happy.

There were a couple days where my bike was in the shop, and I hadn’t yet broken down and pulled out my monster Trek and therefore rode the train. And let me tell you, I do NOT want to go back to commuting by train. In the span of two days I missed the train by a hair and had to call a friend to pick up my kids from school. (Meanwhile, the second train was late.) I was squeezed between two unfriendly men, one who smelled of alcohol and one who insisted on sitting with his knees nearly three feet apart. And, of course, I shelled out nearly $16 for these privileges. I am so grateful that the option to commute by train is there when I need it, but so happy I can usually take advantage of the two wheeled option instead.

The third day without my bicycle was an absolutely gorgeous, beg-to-ride-your-bike kind of day so I pulled out my old Trek Hybrid from 2001. Certainly not the worst bike in the world, but after sitting in the basement neglected for a couple years, and after becoming accustomed to a bicycle that I love, it almost felt tortuous. I don’t know if it was the bike or just my psychological state when on the bike, but I felt like I was riding a beach cruisers while everyone else was on Madones. The only bike I managed to pass was one of those fold-up deals. (Why do people ride those on trails? Aren’t they for riding five blocks from the train to the office?…)

And lastly, should anyone be looking for another alternative while the trail work along Lincoln Drive is going on, to the side of the guard rail along Lincoln Drive there is a narrow but passable path. A bit tough to ride the whole thing without dismounting for those of us with side panniers, but at least it is an alternative.

My husband took this picture on the way home one night. This guardrail is on the northwest side of Lincoln Drive, paralleling the trail that is closed.

 

This alternative may not be there for long, however, as I got an email tonight from WMAN stating:

“Beginning Friday, March 2, a single lane will be closed on southbound Lincoln Drive from Wissahickon Drive to Forbidden Drive.  The closure is needed for the continuing repairs to the supporting retaining wall.

The closures will be scheduled at 9:00 am after the morning rush starting Friday, March 2 and daily through the next two weeks. Advanced warning signs will be placed to channel a single lane of inbound traffic around the work area. During construction, the parking area along southbound Lincoln Drive is closed.”
I’m not sure how having both the trail and the road closed will affect the option next to the guardrail. However, Ken also reports that continuing along Ridge into Manayunk to Henry to the Walnut Lane Bridge is a good alternative. And, of course, one can also turn up Midvale off of Kelly Drive and go through East Falls and Germantown.

Lesson Learned

Thursday evening I was so excited to be riding home in the dark for the first time with my new super bright light (Valentine gift from hubby), the Cygolite Expilion (I love it!) Things couldn’t have been going better. Great weather, very few crazies on the trails…Happily I’m riding along the Lincoln Drive trail, mid-way between Ridge Avenue and Forbidden Drive, when my chain snapped. Ugh. I nearly fell off my bicycle! Since it was pitch black it took me a second to even figure out what happened. (And the first thing my husband wanted to know is if I brought home the chain. Really?) I quickly went from feeling like a super hero to feeling like a scared sitting duck. So, when I get around to writing that “how to be safe on the trails” post, I’ll make sure to add “be sure your chain is in good shape”. Add this one to stuff I should have paid more attention to: When to Replace Your Chain

The good news is that hubby was easily reached by phone and did a rescue pick-up. Bad news is that my bike is in the shop until Wednesday. Since I was so late in replacing my chain, I also need a new rear cassette.

Lesson learned. Take better care of my bicycle!

After I endured a 45 minute lecture/ridicule session from my “real cyclist” brother after this incident, he sent me these fun videos:

http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/12674956/cycling-explained
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMCkuqL9IcM&feature=youtu.be

A run in the woods

I had a delightful solo run through the woods today. So peaceful. So few people. Such a beautiful thin blanket of snow. Running bliss…I stopped to take a couple of pictures so that people could see the current state of the trails after the light snow this weekend. The trails are certainly passable on foot or by bike, but look out for the patches of ice. Here are some pictures taken this (Sunday) afternoon:

Wissahickon Creek

Bottom of the hill leading up to the Kitchen's Lane parking lot, Lot 11

Forbidden Drive near Valley Green

Ice patches along Forbidden Drive

The (very icy!) bridge over the Wissahickon Creek near Kitchen's

More on the Lincoln Drive Trail closing

This is the sign posted along the trail alerting people of the upcoming trail closing. In the background is the retaining wall they are planning to fix.

So, I stopped to get the scoop on the trail closing to on my way into work and was told by a very nice crew of about 10 city(?) workers that the trail would be closed, starting tomorrow, for some “temporary fixes” that would help “keep Lincoln Drive from falling into the creek until some federal dollars come through”. The sign posted (photo above) said the trail closing would be Feb. 7-April 30, but the crew I spoke with said they thought it could be opened back up earlier. Let’s hope!

When I came home tonight I had a message on my phone and in my inbox. So, while I wasn’t given much warning, at least information about the trail closing was eventually disseminated. As for getting around the closing, we plan to take Kitchen’s Lane down to Forbidden Drive to connect with what I believe will be an open section of the Lincoln Dr. Trail from Forbidden Drive to Ridge Ave. (and then on toward Center City). On lazy or busy days, we’ll just park in East Falls and bike from there. Here’s hoping this plan works out and the repairs are made quickly! I’m viewing it as a nice excuse to spend more time along Forbidden Drive, which I usually cut out via Wissahickon Ave and Rittenhouse Town in order to save time…

This From West Mount Airy Neighbors, via email:

Repair Work on Lincoln Drive

Emergency repair work begins on February 7th along Lincoln Drive between Rittenhouse Street & Forbidden Drive.
The stone/masonry retaining walls in this area were damaged by last year’s record rainfalls. The work is expected to take 2 months. The parking areas on the southbound side will be closed. The Park Trail between Forbidden Drive & the Pabst Lane Bridge will be closed to pedestrians & bicyclists.There will be some vehicular lane closings during off-peak hours.Check local traffic reports & updates if you’re planning to use Lincoln Drive.
No detours are planned.
For further info, contact the Streets Department at 215-686-5560.

Whew, it has been awhile…updates on riding in the snow, bridge work and an upcoming trail closing (?!)

Riding home from work today I saw signs along the trail leading from Forbidden Drive Trail to Rittenhouse Town (near Lincoln Drive) stating that the trail would be closed from February 7 to April 30th! What? I’ve done a bit of searching online, but I haven’t found more details (such as the reason for the closing, exactly which sections of the trails will be closed, whether or not the trail will be closed at all times of the day, every day of the week…). Anyone know more? Let me know!

Anyway, when I saw the signs I remembered this blog and how I’ve long neglected it. So, a few quick updates:

Biking this winter has not been as much of an adventure as the last few, because it has barely seemed like winter at all. Our weather has been so nice! I’ve had a whopping ONE bike commute in the snow (January 23rd). (Our one other snow storm was on a weekend…in October!) Yep, just one day of commuting in real snow. But, I did take some pictures.

Commuting through snow (Lincoln Drive Trail, bridge near Forbidden Drive Trail)

Lincoln Drive Trail

By the time I got here, along the Kelly Drive Trail, the trail had been plowed, as the Kelly Dr. Trail usually is when it snows (often well before most streets are plowed), and the remaining snow was starting to melt. So pretty!

In other Philly bicycle commuting news, the bridge over the Kelly Drive Trail that used to periodically drop large rocks onto the trail has been fixed (January 13th). So, now the only thing I have to dodge on the way to work is the woman who rollerblades in zigzags wearing only shorts and a tank top tucked up under her bra (in January!). Yes, it has been warm, but I haven’t yet had the urge to bike in a tank top, much less tuck it up into my bra. I haven’t gotten up the courage to take her picture yet, but here is the construction on the bridge:

Crew fixing the bridge above Kelly Drive Trail (and shadows of Ivan and me)

Great start to the morning!

The crazy turn in the bike path at the corner of Kelly Drive and Ridge Avenue has been widened! I am a happy, happy commuter! Hi-hip Hooray! This is particularly good news with winter approaching. I have had numerous near wipe-outs  trying to make this tight corner (pre-widening) on ice covered cement, only to notice at the last minute a cyclist or jogger coming the other way. This should make the transition from the Schuylkill path to the Lincoln path much more pleasant. Hooray!

See the Bicycle Coalition Blog for before and during construction photos.

This morning, I was able to ride on the completed, widened corner (and didn’t have to go flying out into angry morning traffic). I was so delighted, I stopped to take a picture:

Newly widened corner at Kelly Drive and Ridge Ave.

And boy was I lucky I stopped! I felt lucky enough to have the construction completed of course, but then I noticed one of my panniers had fallen off (something that has happened only twice over a few years of riding daily)! I rode back to find it and see this handsome man riding toward me with an extra bag. My knight in shining spandex! Ivan, it just so happened, had been running late behind me, after dropping off the little ones so I could get in early for a meeting, saw my bag on one of the Wissahickon bridges and picked it up, recognizing it as mine. So, not only did I get my bag back quickly–and didn’t miss my meeting–but I got to ride in with my love after all. Great start to the morning!