Week 8 - Hello New Jersey!
Updated: Jul 6
Quick Recap of Week 8 (6/4 - 6/10):
We started our week in Annapolis and made our way through Maryland and Delaware and into New Jersey. We had a nice week, we slept in a school bus, had two sponsored hotel rooms (thank you Vandiver Inn and Michael Dannemiller) and four separate cycling peeps gave us a comfy place to sleep (thank you, Melissa, Matthew, Daniel, and Sonia). The most exciting part of the week was the early morning crossing of the Hatem Bridge in Maryland on June 7th. Chris Reno coordinated a police escort for us as soon as he caught wind of our expedition. The crossing started at 5 AM and involved two police cruisers following Shan and me, blocking both lanes of the 2+ mile bridge. I rode behind Shan as he ran across to meet Daniel Paschall (of the East Coast Greenway Alliance) who was taking an awesome video of the crossing from the other side. We were lucky to have this escort since the only other option would be to get a shuttle across. This is the only bridge we've encountered so far without pedestrian crossing.
The rest of the week took us across two state lines - yay! I would love to return sometime to Baltimore, Wilmington, DE, and Philadelphia. On a trip like this, we can only get a quick peek at the cities we pass through.
Some fun facts from Week 8
Miles this week =
Shan (running) - 272.4 miles
Josh (cycling) - 275.7 miles
Total Miles = 2100 miles
Money raised for ECG = $6000+ (keep em coming!)
Week 8 Highlights
Most delicious meal: Dinner at Harvest Moon in New Brunswick, NJ
Favorite local beer: Weirdly, the PB&J flavored beer that Mike gave us when we were staying in Baltimore is truly the stand-out beer of the week.
Coolest people we met:
Nigel is a cyclist who was riding with his partner, Kathleen, as they were heading to a Bike with a Cop event. We rode briefly together on the B&S Trail, chatted for a few minutes, took pictures, and parted ways. I wish we could have spent more time with this crew to learn more about their trail advocacy. Sadly, they are driven, in part, by tragic accidents in which they were seriously injured and a fellow cyclist was killed. They now rely on the off-road trails to ride safely and without worry. Learning about these incidents added another layer to our mission.
Melissa - our host in Baltimore gave us an awesome place to stay (I would like to be her roommate, in fact - her place is amazing) and Mike gave us a little taste-testing of some pretty awesome local beers. We were also gifted with our first taste of Berger cookies (yum). Thanks for the warm welcome - we loved meeting everyone and really enjoyed our time in Baltimore. I'd really love to go back. And Melissa - continue building on those 5000+ miles of trail you've been involved with!
Many thanks to the Vandiver Inn, who gifted us a lovely room to sleep in during our stop in Havre de Grace. We had a great time and appreciate the kindness.
Chris and Patty treated us to dinner while we were in Havre de Grace. It was really nice to catch up and meet Chris in person after chatting online with him about the Hatem bridge details. Chris is a true advocate for the East Coast Greenway and seems to be a big voice in trying to find safe pedestrian and cycling crossing of the Susquehanna River. Thank you, Chris, for all of your efforts.
Hatem Bridge escort - big thanks to the MTA Police for meeting us in the morning and providing us with a safe crossing of the Susquehanna River. Watching Shan run into the sunrise was an amazing sight.
Matt Myers, New Castle County Executive, met us on the Jack A. Markell (JAM) trail, where Shan was also interviewed by a reporter. Matt is also a cyclist and prides himself on the bike paths in Delaware, and we agreed 100 percent. We met at the DuPont Environmental Education Center (DEEC) within the Russell Peterson Wildlife Refuge, an awesome spot for bird watching.
Matthew offered us a room at his home in Wilmington Delaware, in a lovely neighborhood not far from the Riverfront area. His boys were excited to meet the man who was running across the country and his cycling partner, too. I went on a bike ride with Matthew's younger son who gave me a tour of his neighborhood. I felt like royalty :) It was a really nice evening!
Daniel and his partner, Corrine hosted us in their extra room in Philly where we enjoyed a delicious lasagna and talked a lot about cycling adventures and trail advocacy. Daniel also rode with us the next day, initially with a plan to get us safely out of Philly, but he ended up sticking with us to Trenton where we met our next host, Sonia. It was great to have company the whole day. Daniel was also a huge help when Shan took a pretty bad fall - he went to a pharmacy and picked up extra first aid supplies. Thanks, Daniel!
Sonia was kind enough to host us in Trenton. She also met us at the bridge where we crossed from PA into NJ along with a group of other cyclists from the neighborhood. We enjoyed home-cooked apple cobbler and a delicious dinner at a local restaurant. The neighborhood in Trenton was super cute - definitely a different vibe than I have experienced before in New Jersey. Thank you for your hospitality, Sonia!
Michael D. sponsored a room in New Brunswick - thank you SO much for this. We really appreciate the generosity and support and felt a bit spoiled having such a nice room. We finished up our week here and were able to do laundry, and have dinner outdoors at Harvest Moon, a nearby restaurant. It was a wonderful way to recharge and keep motivated and we had an amazing sunset on the balcony outside of our room.
Favorite view/stretch of trail:
The full paved, off-road JAM trail was my favorite segment. The trail is very well marked and was clearly developed with full access in mind. We saw people of all ages and plenty of restrooms and benches. I spent more than an hour working in one of the spots right on the trail.
Ironically, the most exciting stretch this week is the most challenging for the continuity of the East Coast Greenway. The Hatem Bridge, which does not have pedestrian access and only limited (and not entirely safe) bicycle access, gave us the most memorable moment so far. We had police holding up traffic, Shan was running as quickly as he could, and the sun was rising in the distance. It was peaceful and exciting and epic. But it's also an important moment that we really hope will help with further discussions to find safe ways for pedestrians to cross the Susquehanna.