My dear old friend S. is in Philadelphia for a conference this weekend and I had the day free, so I got up early and drove up I95 to the City of Brotherly Love. Now, I hate driving, but not nearly as much as I hate parking, especially in a tourist district in an unfamiliar town. It makes me anxious, and I don’t think I’ll ever be rich enough to feel good about paying twenty bucks so I can leave a car alone for a couple of hours. Answer: toss the Brompton in the trunk, park in a residential neighborhood, and bike downtown. That’s what I did, and the second I pedaled away from my car at Oregon & 13th I was happy as could be. I am completely unfamiliar with this city, so I just let the bike route signs be my guide and rode a quick three miles to S.’s hotel, where I folded the bike and brought it up to her hotel room–so easy. After a day spent wandering around and eating ice cream, it was time to get on the bike and head back to the car. I got there quickly and just wasn’t done riding, so I continued pedaling around, following the signs to the Delaware River Trail. Getting there took me through some neighborhoods that looked like Mt. Vernon or Park Slope in Brooklyn and others that looked like Highlandtown or Fruitvale in Oakland and it was just all so flat. I finally found the Delaware River Trail only to discover that it went about 100 feet to a skate park (and yeah, skateboarder, I agree: you can’t reward yourself the first time you do a trick and then not do it again–gotta keep practicing), and I think that might be all so far, but it was worth it just for the view of the river, industry on one side, reclaimed urban watershed this ‘n that on the other. Back out on the street and it was this decaying parking structure or mall or somesuch just hidden by the giant joker of a Masquerade Costume Superstore. Yeah, these are certainly familiar views to anybody living in one of these post–apocalyptic cityscapes. I rode back to my car via the bike routes laid out for me, pleased as punch at the new wheels and excited to have another city to explore. It’s just two hours away, and now I know where to leave the car.
Not to mention you have someone else here in Philly who will happily feed you, keep you entertained with toddler antics, and point you in the direction of more gorgeous bike trails. Come back anytime!