Today the converging blogs begin: our Philly group launched and crossed into Delaware today (reflections by Rabbi Nathan), and the State College group crossed into Maryland (reflections by Jon Brockopp). Despite flat tires (Delaware) and heavy rain (Orbisonia to Cowen’s Gap), the teams seem in good spirits.
Even though the rains were coming down at our mid-day start, our spirits were high. Our intrepid group of five clergy riders began our send-off (from the beautiful John Heinz Wildlife Refuge near the Philadelphia Airport) with an uplifting ritual that included an invocation, blessings, singing, a Jewish prayer for the journey and shofar blowing.
Our route itself reminded us in part why we are doing this ride. During the first half of the afternoon we alternated between stretches of greenway and petrochemical refinery complexes—representations of the renewable/new and the old-model fossil-fuel economy. It reminded us how important it is to continue to work for a greener country.
This being our first day in a completely new ride and route we did pretty well, thanks in part to timely support from Alison Cornish, PA IPL’s executive director and support vehicle driver, as well as several experienced bikers who handled the three flat tires that plagued one of our riders.
At the end of a full afternoon of riding we were warmly welcomed in Newark, Delaware, by Dave and Cynthia (connected to Delaware IPL) and their family and friends and neighbors, fed well, and spent time enjoying fellowship. We look forward to more adventures tomorrow!
The State College riders had a good night on the floor of the Church of God of Prophecy community room, but we were up early to make breakfast for about 20 members of the congregation. I was so proud of our group for taking on this task with such joy: Dorothy handled the eggs, Maggie and Carla were expert pancake flippers, Dave dealt with the sausages and Noah was the clean-up guru. Everyone pitched in, and the result was wonderful fellowship time with this generous congregation.
One group was out the door by 9:30, trying to beat the rain. Those of us who stayed behind to clean up got seriously wet. It just poured, and at one point we had to take shelter in a carport. But in all, we made good time and after our traditional photo at Cowen’s Gap we were delighted to find our Alison (Jaenicke) there with lunch for us and little towels to dry off. Noah (my crazy child) went swimming, while the rest of us tried to warm up a bit.
But the weather cleared up and the rest of our ride was mostly dry. Of course, with five mothers on the ride (and two with their children!), we had to celebrate Mother’s Day – the deCarles celebrated crossing the state line!
We arrived in Hagerstown to see our host, Steve Wise, waiting outside for us. Steve works at the REACH homeless shelter, and our group was ecstatic to have hot showers, washers and dryers. Cleaned and scrubbed, Bill Pike and a team from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Hagerstown made us a wonderful dinner of homemade soup and salad, while Bill told us something of the mission of this shelter in the middle of a rustbelt town. Another full and wonderful day!
—Jon, Nathan (and the other cyclists from both groups!)
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