Wanderlust

Blue Me-Mover next to a bench on a park through a small town
The Me-Mover is finally allowed on the Canal Park path.

I have caught an incurable case of Wanderlust from my Me-Mover!

Today’s plan had been to do a 7 to 8 mile ride on an “easy and flat” trail in an attempt to build endurance over my typical 4 to 5 mile rides thus far. But once I had my Me-Mover loaded in my truck and was on the road, I found myself yearning for something more adventurous. There were several nearby trails I had never ridden, and I was just craving some new scenery knowing that the next few days I’ll be stuck indoors while it rains.

So I pulled into Northampton’s Canal Park to begin my ride. While the 1 1/4 mile paved trail through Canal Park has always been a segment on the larger D&L Trail, its use had always been off-limits to anyone other than walkers and joggers. I have never known the reason for this, but I do know that the police patrol it and know of one friend that was yelled at by the cops to get off of it with his bicycle. When the new connection to the Nor-Bath Trail was opened this past summer, Canal Park was finally opened to bicyclists and other non-motorized vehicle.

Blue Me-Mover by concrete barricade at trail's end with a "No Trespassing" sign
The end of the D&L trail for now. The segment between Northampton and Allentown is due to be built by 2020.

This trail was familiar to me from my many walks through it over the years as I sought to clear my head while enjoying the views of the Lehigh River. Riding it made it feel new again though. I gained a new appreciation of the ups-and-downs of the grading, and the park felt much smaller than it had when afoot.

The D&L Trail still ends at 10th Street for now. Its long-awaited connection to the southern part of the trail in Allentown is due to be completed in 2020 after several bridge construction projects over the trail are completed. A short ride along the new bike lane on 10th Street was needed to reach Main Street where it crosses to the new, western end of the Nor-Bath Trail.

The newest half-mile of the Nor-Bath was a true pleasure to ride. It is smooth asphalt with painted lines and a fence and minimal tree debris. Although there are numerous road crossings, most have very low traffic volume so as to not mess up your momentum.

Blue Me-Mover looking down a freshly paved rail trail
Beginning my first ride on the new western extension of the Nor-Bath Trail.

The new extension meets the old as it crosses Clear Springs Drive and the railroad tracks that parallel it. I had to walk the steep hill up to the curve where the trail switched to gravel. For the half-mile paralleling Horwith Road, this was still a challenging climb up a slight grade. Once I reached the neighborhood and Hollow Lane, I knew things were going to be too steep for my current fitness level. The day was growing hot and humid, so I took a generous break before turning around.

The ride back to the northern end of Canal Park was easier than the ride out due to the mostly downgrade nature of it. Still, I was growing fatigued by the time I reached my truck, but having logged just under 5 miles I was disappointed in not meeting the day’s distance goal. I knew I did not have the energy to reach the 7 or 8 mile mark, but I decided if I could get to 6 miles I would be happy.

Blue Me-Mover on gravel trail with autumn leaves and truss bridge in background
Looking towards the Route 329 bridge from the canal tow path

So I set off again on another new path for me, this time heading under Route 329 along the east side of the Lehigh River on the old canal tow path. Canal Park was created by filling in the old D&L Canal, so I had to go a bit further up the path to finally see the canal itself. Although this was a scenic ride, the trail was getting to be some very rough gravel and stone so I hesitate to recommend it to others. It would be better traversed on foot or by bicycle. This short excursion conspired with the rising heat of the day to completely sap my energy.

When I returned to my truck the second time, I had only logged 5.9 miles, so I did a quick ride back into Canal Park for a photo op just to reach my distance goal. That brought me to 6.05 miles for the day, and without a doubt that last 0.15 miles took every ounce of willpower I had left.

I pushed myself so hard that I napped away most of the afternoon to recover. I believe I was suffering from dehydration and mild heat exhaustion by the time I finished. Meeting my goal was good, but sometimes rides like this remind me to respect my limits better next time. Regardless, I’m feeling better now and I had a whole lot of fun with today’s explorations.

Blue Me-Mover in bike lane looking through arched tunnel
A short bit of street riding is required to link the D&L and Nor-Bath Trails.
Blue Me-Mover on trail with three grey hopper cars on the siding across the street
Despite the ubiquity of rail trails in the Lehigh Valley, it’s rare to see an actual train.
Blue Me-Mover looking down trail flanked by "Do Not Enter" signs
Although body-powered vehicles are allowed beyond this point, it truly wasn’t the ideal terrain for a Me-Mover.
Blue Me-Mover on road crossing the Delaware and Lehigh Canal on an early autumn day
This view of the old canal was worth the hassle it took to get here.
Blue Me-Mover on small wood landscaping bridge in a park
Feeling victorious after my longest ride so far.

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