Day 1: A Rough Start (Philly to Port Jarvis)

Preface: This post is probably going to be boring for anyone but me, or someone looking to learn from my mistakes… that would also be me wouldn’t it? If you’re more interested in The Ride Itself, skip down to the last section of this post.

What’s that quote? “The best laid plans…” History and Literature were never my strong suits.
The plan was to leave at 8:00 AM but with packing the night before running as late as 2:00 AM that seemed unlikely. Note to self: Pack a day earlier, and ride around with everything on the bike for a day before you plan to leave. Even after you are “All Packed Up” there are always way too many details associated with getting gear on the bike and being truly “Ready To Go” to leave that until the hour before you want to get on the road.

Issue #1: Packing
I’m still trying to remember what I packed last year that made everything so much lighter and more compact than what I’ve brought this year. Here are the changes to my gear:
– added trail shoes
– decided to bring liner to my biking jacket (last year there were days where I was really cold)
– down sleeping bag instead of thin summer bag. (I wouldn’t think that this would add much weight, but it’s certainly adding bulk.
– Solar panel for added charging power. (This is a really cool device, but it was problematic to get on the bike, so I’m not sure how it’s going to be worked into the system.)
That’s it as far as I can tell.
Last year I was wearing the trail shoes (they are lightweight low-cut Keen hiking boots), this year I’m wearing proper boots. Bringing the trail boots was justified by the Mt. Washington portion of the trip.
This year I’m wearing proper gear: Boots and Pants (with armor)… (suddenly the pig from the insurance ad is in my head “…bootsandpantsandbootsandpantsandbootsand…” eek.)
The bike feels heavy and the gear not as well tied down as I remember it, but that’s probably only because I have been riding it without gear on it for almost a year.

Issue #2: Timing
The plan to leave at 8am went out the window when I woke up at 7:45. I still had to actually get everything on the bike… 8:00 turned into 10:00, then 12:00…. by 2:00 I was fueled up and on the road. This meant a significant change to the route for today. So I had to figure out how to get to Milford, PA… which brings me to the next topic…

Issue #3: Navigating
The GPS unit I have (Garmin GPSMap 60CSx) is designed for trails. It’s a handheld device, but I have a great mount for it on my handlebars. I managed to input tracks to it, and follow those to school using my car to test it out. Then I swapped SD cards to one I loaded with a Topo map of the US so that I can see exactly where I am. Unfortunately, I didn’t test this one out. The Topo map is only an image and the unit doesn’t see it as a sequence of roads to navigate. Luckily, I had a backup SD card with routable roads on it, but the search function and the user interface for navigating is dismal for roadway navigation. There were a number of times where it wasn’t helping me, so I busted out the iPhone and tried to remember what the sequence of roads and turns were. By 3:00 I had resigned myself to just getting to Milford.

Issue #4: Power
I had spent a day wiring the GPS unit into the bike. My assumption was that since the thing can run for 22hours on 2 AA batteries, that it wouldn’t put a strain on the bike’s battery. Not the case. I went back to AAs once I realized the bike’s battery wasn’t able to handle the load. If I weren’t so loaded down, and planned this out better, maybe that solar panel would have helped. We will see if I can come up with something.

The Ride Itself
The ride itself wasn’t bad once I got sorted out up near Easton, PA. I stopped to ask for directions in Easton, and of the six people I talked to, five of them had Russian accents, but claimed to be from Central Jersey despite having jobs in Easton. By the way, no one knows where Port Jarvis is… except the guy at the toll booth. It’s just unfortunate that it took so long for me to get things under control.

From Easton, I followed 611 north to 209 to Milford. For much of the ride the road follows the Delaware River and winds through the Delaware Water Gap Recreational Area with some nice views. I barely stopped to take a picture though. In future posts I promise to do as well as I have in the past.

View of outcropping across the Delaware River

View of outcropping across the Delaware River

If I had had more time I would have liked to follow the road up to Bushkill Falls. The topo maps I saw for the area looked impressive. It had rained a bit before I arrived in Milford, so the roads coming into town were a bit wet, but the air was refreshingly cool. Milford looks like a quaint little town, and probably worth a visit the next time I try this route. The “3rd time’s the charm,” right?

The Scottish Inn is a clean little place that’s affordable, and conveniently located for this trip between Milford, PA and Port Jarvis, NY. I got here at about 7, hauled in the gear, and passed out. Unfortunately, I slept through the operating hours of any place serving food. I got here before it rained, and the rain seems like it’s letting up. Now, I’m ready to go to sleep. Hopefully tomorrow will be a dry day too.


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