Today starts week 11 since I left San Francisco and I knew I was going to have a couple delays. Now looking at the rear tire that had gone flat yesterday, I had to replace it. I was really hoping that the pair would last until I got back to New York, but I just couldn't risk crossing the Appalachians on tires that were cracked and ripping apart.
I loaded Penny outside under the silent yet watchful gaze of a young woman seated outside her room smoking a cigarette. There is no way she didn't have some kind of question for me, but she never asked it. I went through Montgomery and crossed the Susquehanna yet another time. Just across the river is Muncy, where I knew there was a bike shop. The question is whether it would have what I needed or if I would have to try to make it 60 miles to Wilkes-Barre and find something there. I pulled up to Monty's bikes and was relieved to see the logos for Trek and Bontrager in the front windows. I wheeled her into the shop and walked her past a double row of her cousins. They didn't have a 520 in stock, but all sorts of other Treks, including a ridiculously light madone for only $6800. It turns out that they did have the tires I was looking for in the size I wanted because someone had bought a new bike with them on and had switched them out for something knobbier. The tires were new but not in factory packaging, so they gave me $10 off the pair. That works for me. I also had my rear breaks replaced. These had lasted all the way from San Rafael, CA and I probably could have pushed them all the way to New York, but why risk it?
Talking with the guys at the bike shop, I asked about routes heading east (the one I had planned was as good as any) and a place to get lunch. They recommended the Original Italian Pizza (or OIP) joint a couple blocks away. I ordered enough to leave with leftovers. The garlic bread I had as an appetizer was some of the best garlic bread I have ever had. The buffalo chicken pizza, though, was almost inedible. I ate most of one slice then had the rest wrapped up. I never did end up eating the rest of that, several hours spent in a hot vinyl pannier made it just smell worse. Oh well.
Finally, well after noon, I was ready to get going. I had traveled about 10 miles so far, so had about 80 miles to go to get to Scranton. Between here and there lie several of the Appalachian Mountains. Though the range continues several hundred miles north and almost a thousand miles further south, this was a relatively narrow place to cross them. This part of the range doesn't contain the really tall mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, nor the rugged well-mined cliffs of West Virginia. It does, however, provide ample slopes to climb.
The hills were really the story today. While none of them were as dramatic as White Deer Ridge that I crossed yesterday, there was plenty of up and down. I crossed rivers and passed lakes. The heat of the day rose, but again, thankfully, I was shaded for most of the day. I took a quick break at Ricketts Glen State Park, though I never strayed beyond sight of the road. There are several mountain biking/atv trails in the area, perhaps one day I'll return to explore these more.
As I got into the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metro area, the traffic started to build. I stopped for my afternoon ice cream break in Trucksville. There are few better justifications for eating ice cream every day than riding 80+ miles through the mountains. I came into Wyoming, PA, the fourth state or town I've been through with that name (MN, OH, PA and WY. I did not hit Wyoming, WI or IL). They were building a new bridge over the Susquehanna so I took a few pictures of the new construction while crossing over the old one. This was the fifth and final crossing of the Susquehanna. While this by itself is quite exciting, more exciting was that the next major river to cross is the Delaware. Across the Delaware is New Jersey. The next rivers after that are the Hudson and the East River. Crossing the East River gets me into Brooklyn and only a couple miles from home. But I am getting ahead of myself and still have about 48 hours until I get to that point.
It was getting later in the day and I had now gone far enough that I felt ok stopping somewhere for the night. On my phone, I found a number of motels clustered by the turnpike a few miles ahead. I was also looking for a place to grab dinner, preferably one in which I could have a couple beers as well. What I found was all three. In Old Forge, I saw Julia's Old Forge Inn. This was a real inn in the classic sense that you get a room, but the thing to do was hang out at the bar. There was no one in the room marked office, so I went around to the bar to inquire about the room. The owner saw the helmet in my hand and asked if I biked here. I told him the situation and that I needed a room for the night. He gave me a good deal, just $30 for the night. The rooms were all up on the second floor, so I had to unload Penny and take multiple trips up the stairs. As I did this, there were a number of patrons sitting outside smoking. They asked about my trip and as I explained that I was going across the country and was now just two days from home, one offered to buy me a beer.
I got everything up, took a quick shower, then went down to the bar. I sat at the bar for about three hours. As I was telling one person about my trip, others would overhear and become interested. In this way, I had 6 beers and three shots and paid for just one beer. I love generous people. It was nice to talk to a bunch of different people about a range of topics. I finally stumbled back upstairs and crashed into bed. One more night left on the road and then the next night would be spent in my bed.
Day 71, White Deer Motel, 3 mi east of Montgomery, PA - Old Forge, PA
82.3 miles in 7:45:17 for totals of 4284.7 miles in 326:14:38 and a top speed of 41.0mph