Biking the Gap

2016-07-23_154320333_134AE_iOSI took out the bike for the first time this year. In contrast by this time last year, I had biked many parks around here – Valley Forge, Evansburg State Park, Lake Nockamixon, etc. Anyway, I was excited. We were to bike at the Delaware Valley Gap. The Gap is the area surrounding the water separating the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. We have driven too many times over the bridge while visiting New Jersey and have always been amazed at the size of the gap and the water flowing rapidly below and what it would be like to go boating or canoeing there. I started the morning pulling out my bike. The tire was deflated and it took me 10 minutes to inflate both to slightly over 20 psi. Later on I would be told that it isn’t enough tire pressure for a mountain bike. I had packed my wallet, the car keys, water bottle, ear buds and my cap all in my backpack so I wouldn’t forget it. I loaded the bike rack onto the back of my car and hoisted the bike. It took me a few extra minutes to figure out how to secure the bike as it had been quite a while. It takes a bit of time to figure out the simplest of things. I made some hot coffee and off I went to drive the 20+ miles. Google maps indicated that I had a 50 minute drive ahead of me. I had this song by Mohammed Rafi ‘Deewana hua badal’ from the movie ‘Kashmir to Kali’ in my mind since a couple of days. This would be a song I would be singing at an upcoming party. I turned my smart phone on and tried to find the search icon. Again it took me a while since it has been quite a while since I had used the app. All of these at stops of course. Then I honed in on the song and lo and behold had Rafi singing along the way.

About 20 minutes into the drive I somehow realized that I had my sandals on! There was no way I would be biking for over two hours in sandals. So I called up my friend and said let me go back home and get my shoes. He said as long as I had straps on my bike pedals I would be fine. So I pulled out of Costco and continued on my drive. I arrived at the Delaware Valley Gap Joint Toll Bridge Commission board parking lot after about an hour from home. The drive had been pleasant with light traffic on the early Saturday morning.

2016-07-23_154850588_47981_iOSWe first had to lift our bikes up the bridge and cross over to the track on the Pennsylvania side. About after 2 miles hugging along the canal, we came across a road block due to some on-going construction. We had to then cross the water on the bridge and get onto the NJ side from where we biked about a mile before coming into the town of Stockton. We passed by the main street that had some pretty quaint coffee and pastry shop. My sandals weren’t surprisingly bothering me. However, what was bothering me was the low handle bar. A low handle bar is good for a mountainous terrain where you need to lean onto it to gain some effort. However on this mostly flat trail, it was hurting to keep the arms stretched all the way. Then my seat was killing me. The padded biking shorts didn’t help either. After about three miles we came into a parking lot that was leading to a bridge to cross over to the Pennsylvania side. From that end, we could have biked ten miles to reach the town of Frenchtown. My friend – I will call him V – said there was a nice yogurt store which would make up for a good day of biking. We decided to turn back.

As we continued biking, saw a few young boys learning fishing from their dads. Many adults were enjoying the beautiful trail lined with the back of New Hope’s shops on one side and the canal on the other. About three miles south of Lambertville we stopped, parked our bikes and walked down the pathway to the banks of the river. The currents were pretty strong. However, there a few people swimming and enjoying the bright sunshine despite its heat. I took my socks off and dipped the feet in the super cool running water. The cement bank was sloping quite steep and I had to be careful. At the place the water was running down the bend and no wonder you would have had to be careful. I was surprised how people ignore all warning signs posted.

2016-07-23_161045996_E0BAC_iOSOur plan was to come back all the way to Lambertville and then head to Washington crossing before crossing over the PA side and back to the trail parking lot. The crossing was about 10 miles further and I knew I couldn’t do it.  The hard seat and my already sore arms were telling and I decided to turn back while V continued. The directions from him were simple. I had to follow the path back and instead of crossing across the town of Lambertville, I bear to the left and cross over the bridge and get to the trail on the Pennsylvania side. After crossing the bridge, I couldn’t find the trail. While I love biking, I don’t especially love biking on city streets. As I looked up the parking spot on Google maps, I realized it was about a mile and half away. I had to return home soon. So I decided to bike the narrow streets which were already getting lined up with cars for a lunch time stop. I passed some beautiful homes on either side and without any issue I reached my car. It was about three and a half hours well spent. I made up my mind that I should visit the trail back again in Fall, then it would certainly be very colorful. I started planning for the day ahead – breakfast stop at Stockton market, then walk the path to the river bank, spend some time there, lunch at Lambertville Station, drive to NJ to a temple and back to New Hope in the evening for another Fall walk in the evening. It would certainly be lovely.

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