We woke up in Philly at 7am and still managed to get a late start riding out of town around 9:30. Our goal was to ride to Susquehanna State Park about 80 miles away. This seemed near impossible as we packed up our bikes and stretched our sore bodies.
Before we even got out of Philly Shane busted our first flat of the trip! That’s alright because it allowed us to be fed dried seaweed by Dave as we worked on the repair. There’s a nice photo of this on Instagram @BikeCruisade.
We then found ourselves riding through a trail in a wildlife refuge for about 10 miles on dirt and gravel. This is not a good idea for road bikes and for already tired legs. It was beautiful though and we met another cyclist named Fran and his dog Spike. He was almost 70 years old, still loving life and biking. He also really loved Shane’s name and wished his mom named him that after his favorite movie. I’ll be sure to post a pic of Shane and his new BFF to our Facebook album at the end of the week when I find a computer in D.C.
Once we hit the paved road again we pedaled hard for a couple more miles until we saw a flavored water ice stand in Prospect Park, PA. This is where Shane’s patience really got tested. He walked into a spider web and then immediately after his bike was knocked over by an employee who exited a door that blended in with the wall. A chocolate covered banana and a water ice later and the balance was restored.
At 12:30 we took a break from the heat in a diner in Marcus Hook, PA and had a massive lunch. The waitresses were so nice and the food hit the spot!
At this point we were only a third of the way to our final destination. We hit the road at 1:30 determined to make at least another 40 miles before sunset. There were some easy stretches and some extremely difficult stretches along the way which only made one thing clear. We are crazy. Why are we doing this?!
I was quickly reminded of why we are pushing our bodies to the limits when I met a man named Ellis inside of a Pizza Hut in Bear, DE around 4:30pm. Someone was complaining about how hot the waiting area was so I told them I thought it felt amazing compared to the heat we’ve been riding under over the past 3 days. They told me they were from New York too so we eventually started talking about Street Soccer USA and how we are doing this ride to raise awareness about the organization and the work we do with homeless youth and adults. I mentioned our East NY soccer pitch which was converted from a dumpster lot on Dumont and Snediker. Now comes the cool part, Ellis grew up in this same neighborhood! He knew just how tough it is for the youth to find positive activities and the struggle to stay on the right path. He said that of the people he grew up with all but 5 were either in prison or in jail. He said he moved out of their to DE to make a better life for his son. Just when I started to let doubt creep in this reminder that what we are doing is worth the pain because we are raising awareness about the kids lives we aim to make a positive impact on, not only in Brooklyn but across the country through soccer!
This gave me the boost I needed to ride the last 20 miles and we ended up at a Super 8 in Havre De Grace around 8pm to recharge and wash our bodies and clothes.
Today is going to be another 70 mile day to Silver Spring as long as we beat the forecasted rain. We hope to spend the night with Dave’s friend in Silver Spring and on Saturday we will ride a couple miles into D.C. before noon to spend all day playing soccer with a good friend of mine and Street Soccer USA’s tournament director, Alex Bearman. We just have to keep pedaling!