Beer and a Bicycle

For the first time in many, many months I was able to turn off all electronics and sneak away for an unplugged weekend. It was just me, my bike, a camera, and… let’s just say… a few beers.

Destination this time was a place formerly known as Mauch Chunk, but today referred to as Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, a quiet little town located 92 miles northeast of Harrisburg. My base of operation would be The Inn at Jim Thorpe, an historic hotel built in 1849.

In addition to a chance to unwind from a really busy winter and spring, my goal was to take some pictures, drink some beer, and ride the Lehigh Gorge (also known as the D&L) Rail-Trail, which stretches 25 miles between Jim Thorpe and White Haven. I had read excellent reviews of this trail, and I was looking forward to seeing for myself if it lived up to the hype.

After much internal debate, I decided against a 50-mile out and back ride and opted instead to catch a shuttle to White Haven. The shuttle left from Pocono Biking, two doors down from where I was staying. They literally had a school bus filled with bikers and a trailer filled with our bikes in tow. While most people opted to do the shorter, 15-mile trip from Rockport to Jim Thorpe, a handful of us were taking the full ride out of White Haven.

For the first ten miles I biked with two women from Reading. We had some great conversation and it made for an enjoyable start to the journey. Hitting Rockport, where the others started their adventure, I decided it was time for me to pick up the pace, so I went from a casual 12 mile/hour clip to a more appropriate 18 mile/hour workout pace. I kept this speed for the next 12 miles, laughing each time I passed bikers who had opted for the shorter trip, knowing that I managed to pass them even though I started ten miles further out and about twenty minutes after they did. Basically, it was a great ego boost for a guy pushing 50!

The one couple I didn’t see during this part of my trip was an elderly duo from Delaware. Truth be told, I was getting a little worried. I passed all of these young riders, but the two pushing 70 were nowhere to be seen. Were they okay? Did something happen to them? My mind began to wander.

Just as I imagined them being eaten by a big old bear, I started to cross a large trestle – easily the most beautiful part of the trip. Midway across, there they were – the missing elderly couple. I stopped my bike and we spoke for about 20 minutes. It was great. I took their picture and they took one of me with the mountains as the backdrop. We shared some great laughs, then decided it was time to finish the ride.

Mounting the bike, I completed the last couple of miles back to town, where a cool shower and an even colder beer(s) awaited.

If you like rail-trails, this is definitely one not to miss. A good deal of the trail passes through Pennsylvania Game Land, offering some great scenic views and a peaceful break from the normal daily grind. The trail itself is extremely well maintained, though loose gravel patches occasionally caught me and my hybrid tires by surprise.

The Inn at Jim Thorpe is a comfortable and inexpensive option. Their pub and grille are great, but I urge you to also hit some of the other places in town. My best meal came from Wheel. It was pricey, but damn good. Pocono Biking provided a perfect shuttle solution located a mere two doors down from The Inn. I could easily see myself doing this trip again.

With summer just beginning, there are more biking adventures in the works. I have at least two more “must hit” trails on my list for the coming months and a multi-day excursion isn’t out of the question either. The miles are starting to rack up, and I’m loving every bit of the adventure.