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  • Patrick Baechle

Speedy cyclist passes 400 cars

Last night I had a good time chatting with my camp neighbors, Bill and Susan, around the campfire. Susan had just turned 50 and was sharing left over jello shots from her birthday party with us. We had a lot of laughs talking about our big families. Before I retired back to my campsite, Bill invited me for a breakfast of bacon and eggs, in the morning, and I acceped wholeheartedly. He was so adamant about me reassuring him that I was not going to leave early in the morning, that he asked me three times to confirm that I would be join them.

" I'm a late starter" I said, " I'll be rollin out of here about noon". And it's true. I like to sleep in a little, take my time repacking the mule and do whatever bike maintenance that is needed before I leave. He acknowledged and seemed pleased that I would be there.

All night long I dreamed of bacon and eggs, cooked outside. It didn't matter if it was cooked on an open fire or a sterno stove; it was bacon and eggs, cooked outdoors.

In the morning I am lying I'm my tent and I could smell bacon and eggs cooking. I lay there relishing the aroma, imaginiting it sizzling in the pan, and the eggs being turned over easy. Then I burst up, wide awake, deflated my air mattress, rolled up my sleeping bag, unzipped my tent and emerged, jubilant; with full anticipation, into the morning light, only to see that Bill and Susan were long gone. Their truck, their cooler and their tent. GONE!.

I was stunned. Was I just stood up for breakfast?

Ya know. I suspected Bill and Susan were novice car campers. They had the pop up tent, but it looked a slight bit small for two people. They had the coleman cooler with beer, meat potatoes, butter. The had the cozy camp chairs with the cup holders but, I'm not sure they were feelin the groove. When they went swimming with rhe kids in the ice cold pool and then watched an hour snd a half of Grease, playing on the movie projector in the main picnic pavilion, I thought they had finally arrived at the zen state of camping, but when they told me they were sleeping in the back of the pick up truck, instead of the tent, I started to have some skepticism.

Well, on the good side, perhaps out of guilt, they were kind enough leave me an almost full, family size bag of Dotitoro's, which I then traded, with one of the other campers, for a handfull of paper towels to clean my greasy chain. Their kids thought I was some kind of God bringing them free Doritos and their mother made sure they thanked me. The teaching of manners still prevails in this world and that is hopeful thing.

After eating a delicious breakfast of dehydrated egg casserole, right out of the bag, and then repairing my sixth flat tire, I spread on the sunscreen and was on the road again.

I was able to get directly back on the Switchback Trail which connects Jim Thorpe to Summit Hill. The Switch Back Railroad was originally a gravity based coal train system designed to haul coal from the Summit Mine down to the Lehigh canal and was the second railway built in America. There were no engines. It worked on gravity, similar to a roller coaster. For a long time on the trail I thought I was lost, but, I successfully rode my bike up a nine mile long, three foot wide trail that used to be the bed of this original gravity railroad. It was a little knarly but, very unique compared to other trails I've been on.



The reminder of the day took me back on busy roads, that I do not care for, but, the redeeming factor was when I came upon a major traffic jam, where I was able to pass, on the side, on my bike, all 400 cars that just buzzed by me the previous half hour. I was an oddly satisfying feeling.

I'm here at the Microtel Hotel, in Hamburg Pennsylvania, doing laundry. I have no Idea where I am, or where I'm going today. The landscape is very similar to Blair county. I'm at the point where I'm starting to get a little homesick. My hair is permanently ruined. It has taken on the form of the inside of my helmet that I have been wearing every day now for over a month. It's like I have a rigid triple mohawk. No matter how much I comb it, it won't lay down. These are the side effects of cycle touring. Don't try this at home.




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