The Therapeutic Effects of Lonely, Desolate Roads

Sometimes, it feels really good to tread old paths. I love going off on adventures, exploring new areas and seeing new sights, but after a wreck of a weekend, I just needed to get back that old feeling of pure joy that I had last year. Judging by how I'm feeling today, I was successful!

First of all, this weekend did NOT go as planned. I had intended to do some light cycling on Saturday and then head up to the Pedal & Paddle Fest in Prompton State Park on Sunday. Instead, I went to Moon Lake Park with some friends from Valley Cycles to ride the trails there on Saturday.

As I've mentioned, I usually head up to Wilkes-Barre to ride with a group from Valley Cycles. This past Thursday was to be an extra special affair, as June 6 is also my birthday. (34 trips around the sun!) But, due to rain, a lot of folks either opted to ride trainers in the shop or just skip the night, altogether. I chose to skip.

After 2 days of raining, the trail was incredibly slippery. My rear tire could gain no purchase on the many rock gardens and tree roots along the trail. I'd get the front wheel up and over an obstacle only to get the rear wheel hung up as it would spin out and dump all the energy I put into each pedal. I just wasn't having a very good time.

I realize now that the Excalibur is too big for me. I had an extremely difficult time controlling it and ended up in quite a mess. I fell a few times, and I even ended going over the handlebars once as I tried coming down a rock formation and ended up going vertical. As I felt the back of the bike coming up off the ground, all I could was tuck and roll. Fortunately, I wasn't hurt.

Wet shoes + platform pedals = OUCH
The worst part of the ride came towards the end; I was really beginning to lose my confidence. Instead of going all out and having a good time, I was trying to play it safe and avoid any obstacle that looked like it might be too dangerous. I lost count of how many times I slid sideways and was tossed off the bike, or lost my balanced and fell over. Then came the injury as seen in the picture to the right -- a result of my right foot slipping off the pedal. It's not as bad as it looks, but it hurt for a while.

After all that, I just needed to get back out there and get myself on familiar ground. On Sunday, instead of driving up to Prompton State Park for more trail riding, I chose an old, favorite route that I haven't been on since late last year. Going out Stockton Mountain Road to Route 93, then on down through Weatherly and up past the Lehigh Valley Gorge. I didn't have time to head down into the gorge, so I continued past the Weatherly Cemetery and up past Eckley Miner's Village and then home along Route 940. 2 hours and 29.3 miles later, I was feeling back on top.

Riding this route reminded me of the days when I had no plan and no agenda. I wasn't trying to make it to work on time and I wasn't trying to keep up with anyone else -- it was just me, with hours and hours to be alone with my thoughts. I could take time to feel the cool breeze on my skin while coasting along desolate roads lined with forests of evergreen that reach into the sky. Trees so tall, they easily block out the harsh rays of the sun and put you in the center of your own world. It was, and still is, the best therapy I've ever found.


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