March 9, 2013
Pennsylvania Ride – US 202 Parkway Trail
Ah!! It finally happened today . . . the first warm, sunny weekend descended upon the Lehigh Valley. So what did I do? I made the gut wrenching decision to leave the Trikke in the garage . . . GASP!! WHAT?! WHY?
Well, there’s a significant new trail that opened over the winter that I’ve been wanting to explore. So I did . . . albeit on my bicycle.
|Winding curves and rolling hills|
The US 202 Parkway Trail spans nearly 9 miles from Montgomeryville, PA to Doylestown, PA. Its 12 foot wide ribbon of asphalt parallels the newly constructed Route 202 byway. It’s fenced off from the highway for safety, and they’ve planted new trees alongside it that will eventually give it some shade.
One of my coworkers lives nearby, and has been urging me to check it out. But she warned me it was quite hilly, hence my decision to take the bike instead of the Trikke. And that turned out to be the right decision . . . for today at least. When facing a new trail, particularly a longer one, I often do like to scout it out on bicycle, as I can cover more ground and handle more difficulties that way.
I’ve been working out indoors for most of the winter, yet I know I’ve been slipping from where I left off last year. The US 202 Parkway trail is constantly climbing up and down, with very few flat spots to be found. I’d say it averages between a 2 and 4 percent grade, but there are some steeper hills at both ends. The hill to climb the bridge crossing Route 309 in Montgomeryville has a sign warning of its 6.5 percent grade. Fortunately, this is as steep as the trail gets.
|A final challenge before the finish line|
If you’re an experienced Trikker, you can certainly handle these hills. As of last year, I could’ve handled all but the steepest of them. However, I’m nowhere near being able to handle an 18 mile round trip worth of hills. When I heard about the generous width of the trail, I had really hoped I could host one of this year’s LSM rides there, but that will have to wait. However, if I ever reach a significantly better level of fitness, it has occurred to me that this would be an optimal trail for a future endurance Trikke ride.
I started my ride in Montgomeryville, and was feeling quite weak and rundown by the time I reached Doylestown. I realize now this probably wasn’t the best choice for my first ride of the season. The return trip took forever, and I opted to walk up some of the hills. I would not let this discourage you from trying this new trail though if you feel you are up to the challenge. You can certainly ride on a shorter segment of it, because riding on hills like this is a great way to get you in shape.
There’s a few other things I’d like to make you aware of if you check out this new trail. It has frequent road crossings, most over busy 4-lane roads. The dual crossover by the shopping center in Montgomeryville is particularly tricky. Although there are crossing signals, you still need to be very careful as there are cars coming from every direction sometimes.
Given the trail’s newness, it is also lacking some amenities that you might take for granted on a more established trail. None of the parking areas have porta-johns, and except for the Montgomeryville end, there’s really nowhere to stop to take care of business if needed. There also aren’t any benches or picnic tables, save for a few at the parking areas. These are minor issues, and it’s possible they will be remedied in the future.
You can see the map of my ride here:
|Lake Archer on the campus of Delaware Valley College|
I started at the parking lot where Route 309 meets Route 202 in Montgomeryville. I did the short round trip to the southwest end of the trail then took it northeast to Doylestown. I missed the required zig-zag to stay on the trail where Route 202 crosses Lower State Road. Hence I followed another spur that led to the campus of Delaware Valley College. But it lead me to the serenity of Lake Archer, where I was able to enjoy a short rest on a bench before my return trip.
Overall, I’d say the US 202 Parkway Trail is a welcome addition for a populated region that does not have the extensive trail network I enjoy at home in the Lehigh Valley. It’s over an hour drive for me to get there, so I won’t be there too often, but as my fitness improves it’s certainly going to be a nice place to hone my hill climbing skills. Perhaps it’ll also be what motivates me to one day host a Trikke endurance event on the east coast for hill climbing enthusiasts.
You have access to such beautiful trails! Even if it is by bike 😉