Friday 7/24 & Saturday 7/25/2015
Apparently the size of the climbs and steep pitches of the Pocono Mountains went unnoticed while researching “best routes” for our final 150+ miles. A few other details also went unnoticed. Such as we are in “black bear country”, and the area is well known for timber rattlesnakes. And, the roads are narrow, apparently no budget for bike able shoulders and abundance of 90 degree blind turns. We had a decision to make.
We could ride the back woods bike trails along the Delaware River and take our chances with the black bear and rattlesnakes, or opt for the open roads with no shoulders. I am not fond of black bear, and equally not fond of rattlesnakes, but the super skinny switchbacks on the open roads left us with no choice. We would bike along the trails in the wilderness along the Delaware River.
Technically the wilderness trails that cut through the Pocono mountains should be left to those with mountain bike tires – or vehicles with tractor sized wheels. While our tires are considered ‘fat’ for open roads, they lack the knobs for gripping loose surfaces. However, we were equipped with food (no surprise there!) that hopefully would go unnoticed by black bears, and each of us carried a can of hornet spray. Not sure if the hornet spray had much use other than to make us feel as if we could “spray something” if it got too close. This is one of those moments where we try not to think too much about the possibilities. Let’s just hope we don’t run into bear or snakes, and that the can of hornet spray is just a useless item.
We assumed by taking the wilderness trail – we could avoid the steep cuts carved by glaciers a few moons back. Nope. The trail ride was steep, and the switchbacks with loose asphalt gave us little warning that the edge of the trail was actually a cliff. This is by far some of the most “technical” and strenuous riding we have done. We had all we could do to keep climbing, keep our bikes upright. Every muscle had a job to do.
Yet, the rewards for “going technical and uber strenuous” meant the views once again were outstanding, and we had the satisfaction of having biked something nearly un-bikable. Since the trails were crushed gravel, our bike tires spun out regularly, and we learned to accept slipping tires and operating in lower gears. After reaching summit after mountain summit, we were rewarded with beautiful mountain meadows that appeared to be sprinkled with seeds from the wild flower fairy.
For hours we saw only a handful of humanity, and someway somehow we exited the Poconos, exhausted, and stoked to have avoided the need to use that can of hornet spray. Our final day of our tour puts us in Amish country – with a 60+ mile ride in rolling hills with horse and buggies.