Thursday, September 5, 2013

Cycling an Abandoned Turnpike

Despite having the day off I didn't sleep in late on Friday, the cats wouldn't let me, so I snapped a few photos of the dew and flora outside while walking with Kota.
Kota almost insisted that I took these photos. Usually he'll look or walk away as soon as I point the mens in his face but this morning he called to me and then sat on a step posing. He let me take about 10 or so photos before announcing he was done, and walked off.
On Saturday I loaded my bike on the car and drove up to Breezewood, PA, where a small group of us were cycling the abandoned PA Turnpike. I'd been here a few years before with another group on a freezing cold winters day and had spent most of the time inside one of the icy tunnels taking light photos, with icicles hanging from the roof and ice on the floor.
Today was much more pleasant. We were cycling the length of the turnpike that is open to the public and it was a warm bright day but there was a prospect of storms much later.
More info here:
The start of the ride.
Two of the guys monkeying around above the roof of one of the tunnels. We were able to get up inside and look through these holes which we think were once lights.
Even though it was very dry outside it seems the tunnels are always damp, but lovely and cool to enter after a hot ride.
One of the turbines that was part of the tunnel air circulation system.
There was plenty of pretty flowers and butterfies on route, and we were amazed at the number of cyclists there. For some reason we'd assumed it would be pretty vacant but this is obviously a popular ride. The surface of the road has deteriorated but not so much that it can't be ridden in reasonable comfort. I had my Bianchi while the others were on mountain or hybrid bikes but I was coping fine with the surface which was pretty bumpy in areas. On the way out the turnpike was a very gradual downhill ride and we stopped at each tunnel along with other folks, exploring the turbine rooms or chatting with other cyclists.
One lady very kindly took our photos and came up with the most excellent idea of getting us all to jump. Awesome result!
Lewis, who organized the trip, took this cool shot of us from the top of one of the tunnels.
At each end of the tunnels the cold air rolled out from its dark depths and was easily visible, looking like a scene from a Stephen King movie. That cool cloud could also be felt from quite a few feet away as we approached the tunnels. We all had lights on our bikes or heads, it was pitch black inside.
The end of the road before we turned around and headed back the way we'd come. Riding back was on a slight incline and I was shocked at how tired I seemed to be on the return journey. We'd only be going a few yards and everyone else had moved ahead leaving me behind. I was feeling very embarrassed at how unfit I was and stood up on my pedals to try and catch up; the hill seemed to be harder than I had expected. After some time I had to give up and walk, dismounting with complete and utter shame. It was then I realized that something was amiss. I couldn't even push the bike! I called out to Scott who was the only one I could see in front. He came back with Lewis and discovered that my back wheel had almost come off the frame. Scott pushed it back to its rightful position and tightened it up. All those bumps must have slowly worked it off. As I set off again it felt easy riding up the hill this time. What a relief, for a short time... I had become dehydrated and started getting cramps in my calves, the right leg being the worst. I had to deal with that for the rest of the ride, but thankfully they went completely once I stopped cycling, just leaving tight and sore muscles. I had this issue last Saturday on my ride and suppose this must be an age thing as I've never had these issues before. I shall have to ensure I have more fluids on future rides.
We were also hit with rain before completing the ride, getting caught out in the open between the two tunnels, but despite thunder and some lightning we didn't get too soaked. It had been a really fun day and would definitely do this ride again.

No comments: