Ah . . . the freedom of the open road!! Today it saved me from the constraints of our seasonal woes. If the Lehigh Valley’s trails were getting clogged with the fallen leaves and twigs
a few weeks ago, I’d venture a guess that they are totally non-Trikkeable now in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. I was tempted to venture out today to check, but I felt it would be a waste of the precious little riding time I had this weekend. So I did something I never thought I would do in the Lehigh Valley; I took the Trikke out on the open road for an afternoon ride. I credit my recent street rides in Pottstown
for warming me up to the idea and giving me the comfort to do it.
In a way, I’ve begun to feel constrained by the local trails since those rides as well. Trikking on a trail usually means constantly yielding to faster bicyclists while constantly squeezing by walkers and joggers who have their iPod’s cranked up too high to hear your “passing on your left” call. Hill climbing on these trails is tougher too, as the aforementioned pedestrians often kill your momentum, and you often don’t have enough width to carve deeply enough to ascend the steeper hills.
A trail also implies a defined length to your ride. For example, I know that an out-and-back trip on the paved Easton section of the D&L Trail is 5 miles, so I’m likely to choose a ride length that is a multiple of that amount. I’ll decide to do 10 miles, pace myself, and that’s that; I call it quits after meeting my goal. What I discovered last weekend in Stroudsburg is that when you ride on the local roads, you can just go riding without any pre-planned path, and exploring new roads is a great way to keep your mind off the odometer. It’s not that I couldn’t turn around midway down a path to customize the ride length. It’s just that riding freely on the roads encourages you to stay open to more possibilities, and makes it easier to push yourself further.
|Who says an office park can’t be scenic?!
In that spirit, I started my ride from the parking lot of the Lehigh Valley Industrial Park at the intersection of Schoenersville Road and Stoke Park Road. This office park, as well as the larger one to the south of Stoke Park Road, has narrow paved trails encircling them. I personally don’t like these trails that much though. They are too narrow to Trikke on any inclines, and some of them are getting old and crumbly. If you ride here Saturday or Sunday though, the parking lots are wide open as hardly anyone is working. You can ride freely on a gentle downgrade heading east, and have oodles of carving width heading back west. I have worked in both of these office parks in the past though, and I would advise against riding here during the work week, as both have heavy traffic and full parking lots.
The neighborhoods to the east of these office parks are both great places to Trikke any day of the week. They are clean and safe, have a low volume of car traffic, and most of the roads are freshly repaved. Some roads are flat, but most have a long, gentle incline. They are relatively easy to climb, but are sloped enough to give you a great workout. There are so many roads back there that I have not even come close to exploring them all. This gives me a good reason to go back again and again and again. What’s great about riding here is that every ride can be a new adventure, because you’re no longer limited by following the same route every time you go there. For today’s ride, I combined the office parks and the neighborhood streets into a challenging but fun 16.17 mile joyride.
If you happen to live in one of these neighborhoods, then you are lucky enough to be able to Trikke out of your own driveway and have plenty of good roads right there waiting for you. If you have to drive here, I would recommend parking behind the Wawa convenience store in a parking lot at one of the medical buildings, which are always empty on the weekends. When you return from your ride, it’s a welcome bonus to have the Wawa right there to reward yourself with a refreshing drink and a nice warm meal.
If you’re going to Trikke on public roads, it’s always worth taking all possible precautions to keep yourself safe. I always ride with a helmet, and have taken to wearing my bright yellow biking jersey on the Trikke as well. I probably look like a total dork wearing it, but I prefer to be as visible to traffic as possible. (Just in case the Trikke itself isn’t attention-getting enough, lol!) It’s also wise to have a headlight and taillight in case your ride goes into dusk or darkness like mine did today.
In this area specifically, you need to be extra careful around Stoke Park Road and Jacksonville Road, both of which are heavily travelled. Jacksonville Road has a sidewalk to Trikke on, but most of Stoke Park Road does not. Therefore, I would recommend just crossing Stoke Park Road at one of several intersections instead of actually riding along it.
If your favorite trail has become temporarily impassible due to the recent storm, take heart that there are still plenty of great places for Trikking in the Lehigh Valley!