Experimental music, photography, and adventures

First bicycle ride in Pennsylvania

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

So, we’re now residents of Kingston, Pennsylvania, and still trying to get settled in our new home. I haven’t had much time to ride my bicycle, but I did manage to get out for a ride on Saturday.

It’ll take me a while to learn my way around here. I’m already getting there in the car, but I still have yet to determine what the good bicycle routes will be. Some people seem to ride on Wyoming Ave/Route 11, but that is a pretty busy, 4-lane road. It even has a bike lane for part of it, but it only runs for a small portion of the road. I’ll probably try riding there sometime, but I think that I can find a better route on smaller, residential side streets. There isn’t one small road that parallels Wyoming Ave, but I’m hoping I’ll find a few roads I can string together to make a good route.

Anyway, given my lack of knowledge of the roads here, I decided to play it safe for my first ride and go ride on the multi-use path on the Levee. I’m normally not a big fan of paths like this, preferring to ride on actual roads, but I figured this would let me ride without worrying about traffic too much. Also, I knew it would be scenic, as the path follows the Susquehanna River.

I had a route planned to get to the path, but didn’t really follow it. I ended up riding on Market Street, which is a 4-lane road and a little busier than I like, but traffic was light and riding there really wasn’t problematic at all. I decided to ride over the Market Street bridge before getting on the path. The bridge has wide sidewalks, great for cyclists and pedestrians.

Riding through a neighborhood near mine

Looking down on the path from the bridge

Crossing the Market Street bridge

View from the bridge

Looking toward downtown Wilkes-Barre

The Susquehanna River

After checking out the bridge, I rode back and got on the path. I wanted to see how far it went in both directions. I started heading south, passed a small pond and some tennis courts and other sports fields, and found that the path didn’t go very far at all. Once at the end of the path, I saw a trail going down the side of the levee and decided to follow it.

The levee path

I was glad to have the Long Haul Trucker instead of my old road bike, because the trail wasn’t paved. Parts had a strange, dark-colored gravel. There used to be a lot of anthracite coal mining in this area, so I wondered if it was crushed coal.  But for the most part it was a dirt trail. It was mostly fairly smooth, and the Trucker handled it well.

Dark gravel

While the trail followed the river, I couldn’t see the river through the trees, for the most part. I did, however, find some side trails that went down to the river. Additionally, there were some smaller trails shooting off the main one that were a little more challenging, and more fun. I also went under a really cool train trestle.

Looking at the river through the trees

The trail passes under the train trestle

An easy section of trail

I saw a side trail going down toward the river and followed it. I got some great views of the river, Wilkes-Barre, and the trestle. There was some dry ground by the river (I believe the water level was just low) that was sadly littered with tires. The Susquehanna, while scenic, is apparently a highly polluted river. The land by the river was very sandy and rocky to the point where my tires sank in when I tried riding on it. I decided not to go down by the water.

Susquehanna River

Trestle (tires litter the ground in front of it)

My bicycle by the river

The trail seemed to end at what appeared to be a jump track. I think motorcycle riders use it; I heard some engine noises that seemed nearby. If I had the mountain bike with me, I would’ve attempted some jumps.

I headed back the other way and took in some more views of the river along the way. I thought I’d have to ride up and cross Market Street on the road, but instead, the trail took me under the bridge.

More easy trail riding

Looking back at where I rode under the bridge

The trail on the other side of the bridge was a bit trickier — it was narrower, with more twists and turns, and some roots and rocks. It was also clearly less maintained, as there were some trees down on this side. The trail went closer to the water, which I liked, but there was a foul smell emanating from the water. Ugh.

Looking back toward the Market Street Bridge

The sun gets low in the sky

Tough section with lots of roots

I passed another train trestle, this one with a ton of graffiti, and tried to figure out where the trail went. It got more and more difficult and debris-covered, and eventually just ended. I tried a couple of side trails, to no avail. I had to turn around and head back where I came from. Before long, there was a trail back up to the levee. The smooth pavement felt great after the rougher trails. I headed north, to follow it to the end.

Arriving back at the levee

Riding under the tracks

Levee trail behind me

The levee (and path) curved and headed toward the mountains. The sun was getting low in the sky, and the colors on the mountains looked amazing.

Riding toward the mountains

The path ended in Forty Fort, the next town north of Kingston. I found my way home on quiet streets. I  got home before dark.

A Kingston neighborhood

This sure was a great ride — especially considering it was my first ride in our new home. I rode under 10 miles, but was able to ride on a variety of surfaces: paved roads and paths. gravel paths, and dirt trails. And I got to see the Wilkes-Barre and Kingston, the Susquehanna River, the mountains, some very colorful foliage, along with the Market Street and Pierce Street bridges and a couple of railroad trestles. Hopefully I’ll be able to get out for another ride soon.

8 Responses to “First bicycle ride in Pennsylvania”

  1. furiousball Says:

    it looks nice, sorry about the smell, it wasn’t me. i swear.

  2. Dave Says:

    *”If I had the mountain bike with me, I would have tried some jumps.”*

    Dude, say it with me: “We’re safer when our tires are in contact with the ground”.

    Mr. Brain Damage: sampler of helmets, fracturer of skulls

    Sounds like a great first ride! Can’t wait to hear more!

  3. Marty Says:

    Looks like a nice place (sans the dirty & polluted Susquehanna, of course). I can’t remember how far the Delaware Water Gap is from you, but I believe that there are some trails up there that might interest you.

    How are things going in the new home? Where are you working these days?

  4. Doug Says:

    Sounds like a nice first ride. Too bad the river is less than inviting. I’m looking forward to your Pennsylvania ride reports. What fun to have a new area to explore.

  5. Jon Grinder Says:

    Looks fun.

    When I was a kid, we moved around a bit. My parents always waited about a week, then started asking me how to get to places. Riding a bike around is an awesome way to learn a new area.

    have fun exploring.

  6. Tim Says:

    the first of many adventures

  7. Bone Says:

    I wouldn’t worry too much about pollution in the Susquehanna. You are very far upstream from most of the bad parts. I swim in the West Branch all the time, and I haven’t mutated or grown any extra limbs so far.

    Down my way, near Harrisburg, it’s probably much worse, but we do have a “beach” here, and people use it all the time.

  8. Apertome Says:

    Good point, Bone, I hadn’t thought of that. Glad to know the river shouldn’t be as bad here. There was still that smell, but I’m assuming that’s from stagnant water due to low water levels.

    Either way, the river at least looks inviting.

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