Leg 4 – Rolling Up The Lehigh Valley

  
Made a mostly easy 65 miles today, for a trip total 188. NJ route 57 ran down the Muscanetcong River for the first eight miles or so, and with a gentle tailwind and cool weather, the easy rolling start made 120 mile days seem plausible later in the trip. But the hills started rolling once I climbed out of the valley, slowing me down a little on the way to the Delaware crossing in Phillipsburg. I crossed on the historic Northampton Street bridge. The officers on duty at the bridge told me in no uncertain terms I had to walk my bike on the pedestrian path.

  
 Once in Pennsylvania, my route followed the D&L Canal towpath for nearly 15 miles of flat spinning through the woods, with the Lehigh River on one side and stretches of the old canal reflecting on the other. Though the path had its rough sections, some dirt, some gravel, some mud, and some crushed stone, I made great time easy pedaling the flat terrain. Wood thrushes fluted me through the green canopy and evening Hesperus was blooming everywhere, sweetening the air.

  
The Lehigh ride was mostly pretty bucolic, but it included some stark industrial vistas, like this giant decrepit steel plant near Bethlehem. And it finished off with the screeching sounds of the railcar sorting yard in Allentown.

  I left the Lehigh River in Allentown, whose suburbs stretched interminably to the west, then morphed into a Mecca of regional trucking centers. A steady line of semis kept me pinned to the narrow shoulder on Route 222. I finally stopped for a late lunch/early dinner at the Starlite diner in Fogelsville, where I was delighted to learn that I was eligible for the senior discount at the all-you-can-eat soup and salad bar.
Another half hour of cycling mercifully took me away from Route 222 and into peaceful Mennonite farm fields and the Tinkerers Farm AirBNB somewhere way up a long lane, far from the noise and trucks. And there was a nice hammock in the back to put my sore legs up for a while.

  
Today’s Google routing mishaps:

The route out of Hackettstown directed me straight to the entrance of the State fish hatchery, with a big “Not open to the public” sign, then veered left onto a bike trail marked “Authorized Admittance only.” That bike path led me to the sports field of the local high school, where Google told me to turn right into a chain link fence. It took me a half mile of circling to find the route again – but as I passed the school parking lot from the other side, I saw the small gate in the fence I was meant to use.

On the PA side of the Delaware, Google sent me right through a gate marked “No Trespassing Norfolk and Southern Railroad.” But the dirt road on the other side did eventually connect to the canal towpath.

Up in farm county, Google tried to tell me I should follow a tractor wheel track through some farmers’ fields. I followed the road instead.

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