Three of the group were only able to do a portion of the ride and turned around after about 10 miles or so. That left me with one other rider, an Air Force captain. My plan was to ride into Lehighton and turn around there instead of going to Jim Thorpe because Tropical Storm Ida did quite a bit of damage to the canal towpath at Weissport. Parts of the towpath were rumored to be littered with frickin' boulders the size of Blue Mountain. I was bike riding, not mountain climbing.
Unfortunately, the Air Force CPT outranked me, and wanted to ride into Jim Thorpe and have lunch. He had his wife's credit card, and offered to buy, too. I accepted.
As you go into Weissport along the D&L, you have to turn off and go up this switchback hill. It is well-marked, but easy to miss. I know because I missed it a few times last year. But I was now a guide and had no problem pointing it out to the aviator on a pre-electric Townie. I kind of felt like Davy Crockett.
After ascending the hill, you cross a bridge that takes you over the Lehigh River and into the bustling metropolis of Weissport. I hopped into the bike lane, cranked my Cannondale Trail 5 into 10th gear, and flew across the bridge, down a hill, and up a hill to the towpath. But when I turned around, the Air Force was nowhere to be found. I actually backtracked a bit and still didn't see him. Eventually, I got a call and he had somehow lost me. He never saw me when I wizzed by, probably because I broke the sound barrier. After providing directions, he caught up with me.
Just as he was doing so, another guy was leaving the tow path on his bike, having come from Jim Thorpe.
"How's the trail"? I asked.
"Don't do it!" warned the cyclist. "There are rocks and washouts everywhere. It's too dangerous."
Now the guy who gave us this warning had just ridden a trail he considers too dangerous. What's more, the bastard had only one arm.
"If some guy with only one arm can do it, I think we can do it," said my comrade.
"Yeah, but maybe he lost that arm doing the trail," I answered.
Like idiots, we forged ahead. Sure enough, there were rocks and washouts everywhere. In fact, I saw an arm lying on the path at one point, waving at us. But we continued in true military fashion. I was feeling quite manly, like Hannibal crossing the Alps. Then we were passed by a few 80-year old ladies who jeered at us as they sped by.
"Eat my dust!" cackled one of them.
Eventually, we made it to Jim Thorpe, the Mecca of Lehigh Valley cyclists While there, I posed in front of a gigantic black lump that looks amazingly similar to, though slightly smaller than, my usual morning deposit. It's anthracite coal.
We ate at Molly Maguires, which fortunately had no Irish cuisine The Air Force dude kept calling it Murphy's, and when I pointed out his error, he said, "You Irish are all alike!"
That's true. We're all quite gifted, except when it comes to food. Seriously, does mutton sound like anything anyone in his right mind wants to eat? But it is better than haggis, a food created by a dare from none other than Satan himself.
After lunch, the ride back is pretty much downhill. We were tooling over those rocks and washouts when, suddenly, the Air Force dude realized his saddlebag had been knocked off his bike. In it was his wallet, phone, car keys, a few sidewinders and, worst of all, his military ID. If he loses that, it's a firing squad.
He quickly turned around and found his bag, which was apparently being dragged away by that lone arm.
From this point, I tried to stay behind him in the event his bag fell off again.
My main fear along these trails are the rocks and ruts. His are snakes. He hates them, although he admitted to eating a few on some survival mission with the Air Force.
Snakes never bother me.
We continued along and then, about three miles from the end of our ride, "Pffffffft!" The Townie's front tire went flat. Some snake no doubt bit his tire, especially after he admitted to eating them.
Fortunately, he had a tube and was able to repair it in a few minutes. If that were me, I'd probably still be there. I did help with the pump and provided lots of sage advice.
All in all, the ride was a blast. What's sad is that the leaves are turning color and there will only be a few left before it becomes to cold.