THE EAST: GRID Alternatives
To see the final blog about the GRID Alternatives Trans American Cycling Tour, 2016, please go here.
To donate to GRID Alternatives through Climate Ride, please go here.
Welcome to my travelogue for the GRID Alternatives Trans American Cycling Tour, 2016. If you read some of my prior blogs you will see I am more interested in reflective writing on environmental issues than I am in writing a travelogue. However, the nature of the trip I have been on since April 8, 2016, makes me think this kind of writing has value. And because of the challenges and stresses a trip like this entails, I don't know that I will be able to write anything thoughtfully reflective until the trip is over.
For those of you tracking this tour day by day, please log onto my Facebook and Instagram accounts. There are links for both (and my Twitter account) at the bottom of this blog if you keep scrolling down. But if you don't participate in social media you can check in here from time to time. But please be forewarned - I find it very difficult to find wifi reliable enough to keep my blog fresh - in fact, I am often as much as two weeks behind. That said, I will get to it when I can, so please keep coming back! I promise you I will add to it eventually, so your patience will pay off.
On this trip I will travel 6000 miles on a bicycle over a number of months and visit a total of 11 regional GRID Alternatives offices - 8 in California (San Diego, Inland Empire, Greater LA, Central Valley, Central Coast, Bay Area, Bay Area North Coast and North Valley) - and then 3 more GRID offices in Denver, New York City and Washington, DC. The route will zigzag northward through California, then east across the Rocky Mountains through Nevada and Utah to Denver, and across the great midwest and the Appalachian mountains back to my home in NYC. The final leg of the tour from GRID's New York office to GRID's Washington DC office will take place from September 17 - 21 as part of the signature “Climate Ride NYC to Washington DC tour". At each office I will meet with GRID staff and participate in volunteer installations wherever possible. I also intend to do some additional cycling to see family and friends, and celebrate the National Park Service’s Centennial.
A great way that you can help put some wind behind my back is to support fundraising for GRID Alternatives through the following link at Climate Ride. Funds raised from this Climate Ride Independent Challenge will support GRID Alternatives. Please know that I am not raising money for myself - the trip is entirely self funded. So 100% of your $ goes to a tax deducible organization. And several excellent ones at that - Climate Ride takes a small portion for providing the fund raising website, and the rest goes directly to GRID. GRID's teams of volunteers come together to install solar systems for low income homeowners at no cost to homeowners. In addition, GRID’s hands-on training has evolved into one of the best solar training programs in the country. Your generous donation will help GRID Alternatives improve the bottom line for homeowners, decrease carbon emissions, and offer workforce training in the solar field - from marketing and sales to system installation - for individual homes, businesses, community solar and affordable housing. This is how to put people to work; solar has been the fastest growing industry in the country for the last four years!
July 31 was a needed and useful day of rest in Natrona Heights, PA, a suburb to the north of Pittsburgh on the Allegheny River.
August 1 -I cycled through some interesting communities on the Allegheny River on my way through Pittsburgh, where I picked up the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) Trail. Although foggy when I started, the day became beautiful and sunny, and the industrial communities along the river looked alternatively gritty and charming in a strong-shouldered way.
Although getting through Pittsburgh and down to the Monongahela River where the GAP Trail begins was challenging, I made it onto the trail by early afternoon.
I got lunch in Boston, PA in a local bar. I explained to several locals what I had been doing for almost 5 months. When I went to pay for my food I discovered that my tab had been picked up by one of the guys I had been talking to. He wouldn't let me pay him back. As I was leaving he said it was his way of supporting my ride. I was touched, to say the least. This is only one of many small niceties that came my way during my trip.
August 2 - This day on the GAP trail turned to be quite amazing. Several times during the day I reconnected with the Irish cyclists - Orla Knight and Karen Weeks - who had camped near me the night before. They were both having a great time, and charmed everyone they met on the trail. They were also intense cyclists. Most touring cyclists average about 60 miles a day, but these two typically logged 80 - 100 miles and had done a handful of days where they covered 120 miles and more. I like to think I'm in pretty good shape, but I had to work to keep up with these two!
August 3 - The GAP Trail ends at Cumberland, and joins the C&O (Chesapeake and Ohio) Canal Tow Trail. This cycling trial derives from an old 2 track road, which is how barges were pulled on the canal, and it goes all the way to Washington, DC. I found it muddy and challenging out of Cumberland, but as the day wore on it gradually improved, suggesting that it gradually turns into a better surface as it gets closer to DC. I spent the night in the lovely small town of Hancock, MD. In a tourist renaissance, this old mining town now caters to cycling tourists, and has several decent motels and bar and grills for cleaning up and unwinding.
August 4 - On the C&O Canal Trail until Williamsport, MD. Left the trail and biked north toward Gettysburg, PA, where I stayed in a KOA for the evening. It was a cute place, although pricey because of its proximity to Gettysburg. The husband of the camp managing agent was kind enough to drive me to a bar and grill a few miles away where I got dinner.
August 5 - In the morning I rode past some of the battlefields and through the center of Gettysburg. I didn't think I had time to take a tour and I was worried about rain, so I didn't stop (hope I don't regret that choice - I know I want to return). But what an interesting looking town. Extraordinary architecture in every direction. I continued east, and in the evening I stopped at a Best Value Inn, and to my good fortune discovered an amazing Amish buffet was situated directly across the road. Although the place was packed (Friday night in prime vacation season) I was able to get takeaway and went back to my motel room to eat. I especially remember and extraordinary piece of coconut cream pie. Some aspects of Americana cannot be beat - authentic cream pies are among them.
August 6 - Not much was distinctive about this day, except for an Amish breakfast at the same restaurant as the evening before, and increasingly busy traffic as I approached Media, PA on the outskirts of Philadelphia. I stayed at my brother's apartment at Pendle Hill, the oldest Quaker retreat center in the United States.
August 7 - Left Pendle Hill and rode into downtown Philadelphia, where I picked up SEPTA, the local train service, to Trenton, where I was able to roll my bike onto a New Jersey Transit train that took me to Penn Station in Manhattan. I quite like how SEPTA and NJ Transit accommodates cyclists in off-peak hours. Its a true service. I wish Amtrak was as helpful.