Day Two: Jim Thorpe PA to Bethlehem PA - Cycling the Poconos: Glen Summit PA to Bull's Island NJ on the Delaware and Lehigh Trail - CycleBlaze

June 11, 2019

Day Two: Jim Thorpe PA to Bethlehem PA

Blue skies, dry paths, a tailwind - doesn't get much better

33 miles from Lehighton to Bethlehem, mostly on the Delaware and Lehigh Trail with a few detours.
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The weather made a complete 180 degree turn for Tuesday's ride - sunny, temps in the high 70s and a strong breeze from the NNW that would be at our backs for most of the day.

The construction of a bridge to take the D&L trail from downtown Jim Thorpe on the west side of the Lehigh River to the east  side where the trail continues was delayed (should be open in July) so the day started with a van shuttle from Jim Thorpe to Lehighton that reduced the cycling mileage a bit.

The sky was blue, but Carole was taking no chances at the start in Lehighton.
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The first 15 miles or so were just fantastic biking on a smooth path with views of the river and a few small towns along the way.

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At Northhampton, we biked over a bridge back to the east side of the river and had a picnic lunch at a small park - mass quantities of Oreos were consumed. For the next seven miles or so the route would be fragmented, with some sections of path (where we had an incident of path rage where a high speed cyclist going in the opposite direction started screaming that I almost hit him as he sped by) mixed with a section of very rough "unimproved path" - essentially two dirt ruts separated by grass, filled will either large rocks, water or both.

Saylor Park Cement Kilns in Coplay.
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Passing through the town of Coplay we stopped at the ruins of the Saylor Park Cement Kilns, which apparently were an innovative way of producing cement for a brief period of time, one of the major reasons the Lehigh Valley was the center of the US Portland cement industry. It now houses a cement museum which I'm sure was thrilling but no.

Dry path and sunny skies put Carole in her happy place.
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From there it was some road riding around Allentown, where a few of the group got flat tires but the owner of Pocono Biking had come along in his pickup truck for that segment and everything was fixed quickly. More beautiful trail riding and we came into Bethlehem and that night's hotel, the grand Bethlehem Inn - way too nice a place for sweaty, gritty cyclists.

The Bethlehem Inn
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After we cleaned up a bit, the Pocono Biking guides loaded us in the van and took us across the river to the Steel Stacks area. This was the site of the main Bethlehem Steel plant, which was closed in 1995 and is now partly a monument and museum to the heyday and decline of the steel industry and partly a growing and thriving entertainment and technology area. 

Touring the ruins of the gigantic steel plant was sobering. As we read the information signs about the tough life of steel workers while looking at the rusting remains, several hundred people sat on a grassy field behind us cheering as they watched the US women's soccer team beat Thailand 13-0 in the World Cup on a gigantic screen- very much a cognitive dissonance experience.

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Afterwards, Carole and I walked through the cute, cute town, had coffee at The Joint, an excellent dinner at Tapas on Main (where one of the waitresses was also a Pocono Whitewater guide) and ice cream at the Hotel B Ice Cream Parlor, which is apparently owned by the Hotel Bethlehem and serves only Penn State Creamery ice cream - good stuff.

Today's ride: 33 miles (53 km)
Total: 69 miles (111 km)

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