A summertime one night bike camping trip from Philly to Green Lane Park, organized by WomenBikePHL.
When I saw that WomenBikePHL was organizing a bike camping trip, how could I say no! I'd gone bike camping solo before, because I didn't know anyone else crazy enough to strap a tent to their bike and go -- and this was a chance to meet some of those (amazing!) crazies.
We met at the Art Museum, got on the Schuylkill River Trail, and didn't ride on any roads (except for the short chunk of through Manayunk on Main Street that can't be avoided!) until we got to Green Lane Park.
You can check out the route here.
Just after we passed Valley Forge, we veered off of the SRT and onto the Perkiomen trail. Before this trip I'd never been on the Perkiomen trail (let alone known it existed!). The trail is pretty flat, packed gravel and tree shaded most of the way. There are a few sections closer to Green Lane that are a a bit steeper and have deeper gravel, but they're short enough to walk if you want to bypass them. The trail goes right into Green Lane Park where we camped. The next day we took the same route to get home. We stopped in Norristown for some lunch and a few people hopped on the train to get back to the city earlier. All in all, this route is really a great "intro to bike camping" trip from Philly - you're never too far from a town, you're on a protected path 99% of the time, and there's the option to bail and jump on the train for much of the route.
At lunch on our way home, Shelly asked, "How many of you knew each other before this trip?" Maybe two or three people said yes and we were all pretty surprised. There's something about biking, the rhythm of organically splitting into smaller groups as you ride and regrouping for snack breaks, about campfires and sleeping outside -- and something about women who sign on for these things -- that creates a sense of community. So few of us knew anyone beforehand but these types of shared experiences created connections pretty quickly.
And it was a really great mix of people - including Shelly, owner of Fairmount Bicycles and Brewerytown Bicycles (highly recommended!); Caitlin, who works at the Association for Public Art; Takia and Kiera who are the creators of City Fit Girls; a nanny; a textile designer; a linguist; a teacher; and courageous ladies who had never been camping before, let alone bike camping!
And, in my humble opinion, the most genius plan set up by the trip organizers Caitlin and Shelly (thank you for organizing!) was to order pizza for dinner delivered TO the campsite! I'm all for roughin' it, but for a low stress, near-to-town group trip - this was the perfect idea.
And be sure to check out the video below that Caitlin and Shelly created before the trip about packing!