Fri 10 Jul 2009
Between Waynesboro & Easton are several Pennsylvania locales I’ve heard a lot about but never really been to. Lancaster, for instance, is supposed to be the Amish capital of the world (even though the largest population of them is in Ohio). We didn’t come across any Amish until we were near Kutztown.
We did hit up the recommended “Lancaster Dispensary” where the bartender played Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in it’s entirety, making us nostalgic for our iPods, and the waitress invited us to pitch our tent in the sprawling 1/4 acre backyard of her historical landmark home.
Out of place “on the wrong side of the tracks” next to tenement-style brick buildings, Susannah’s wood sided 1.5 floor bungalow’s property extends way back until the next block. As sleep crept closer, the arbitrary outbursts of her neighbors became less & less startling, and we slept like babies.
The next day, we stopped in Reading, where I’ve only been once before to buy some unstylish stonewashed jeans from the city’s famed discount outlet stores when I was a teenager. From there, I called Mike Fegley at the Allentown Brew Works to tell him I was going to be there in a matter of hours to say “hi”.
Allentown, Bethlehem & Easton make up the third largest metropolitan area in Pennsylvania behind Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The Billy Joel song is about that Allentown, but it was based more on Bethlehem, where the factories were being torn down and have recently been turned into sprawling casinos. Easton is famous for Crayola Crayons, Larry Holmes (who beat Muhammad Ali back in the early 80′s), and being the second place that the Declaration of Independence was read publicly.
Allentown doesn’t have all that much going for it, and Mike was disappointed in his attempts to attract the Bicycling Hall of Fame to the unused storefronts across from his brewery. Still, in spite of the perceived disinterest express from his community, we boldly encouraged him to continue the Tour De Brew – the only USCF sanctioned event that goes THROUGH an occupied building before continuing on to the streets. A while ago, I had screened a youtube video he had cobbled together of the race after my Mom had saved a clipping from the Morning Call to show me last Christmas. It’s open to amateurs, and if he does this event again (which runs concurrently with a beer fest), I’ve promised to come & drag some New Yorkers with me.
I was going to lead twoarmparty into Easton by the Lehigh River Canal bike path, but we were already a few beers deep and on the last 20 miles of an 85+ mile day, so I skipped the scenic & went for the direct, which brought us past two Blockbusters I used to work at, my High School & Middle School, a Laneco I got caught shoplifting at, the Dixie Cup factory, and some of the less lovely parts of downtown Easton. Then we rolled up on Pearly Baker’s where my Dad was waiting for us with several empty seabreezes in front of him. Apparently he thought we might get there quicker. Family & friends rolled up and we had a great time beginning a relaxing day in Easton. Quinn did a great job recapping that in the last post.
Someone else’s photo of the bridge we illegally rode over. There was no other way! The best part was how I got a flat tire at the very base, by running over a drainage grate. There are few things in life I’m afraid of. I am, afterall, fearless. But of those few things (Tornadoes, opening car doors, wet metal construction plates, and expansion joints on bridges), I pretty much ran into two of them crossing this bridge, because having a flat tire makes you just about as stable as riding over a wet metal plate. And yes, as Quinn mentioned, we stopped on the other side of the bridge to take that Jersey State sign photo (impressive sign, New Jersey!) and fix my flat. That took a good 15 minutes, and nobody did anything about it. So the moral of the story is IGNORE THE LAWS, KIDS! I wish I had known this when we were at the Crayola Factory the day before….