Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Pennsylvania Trail Review: D&L Trail and Palmer-Bethlehem Township Bikeway

The D&L Trail is one of Pennsylvania’s longest and best-known rail trails, stretching 165 miles from Wilkes-Barre to Bristol.  It follows the route that canal boats once used to deliver anthracite coal from mines to market, and it offers stunning views of the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers.

There’s only one problem for Trikkers . . . most of the trail is gravel.  Fortunately there is a small section near Easton, PA that is a Trikker’s paradise.  Several miles of wide, flat asphalt run alongside the Lehigh River and the D&L Canal.  Riders can park in four locations:
  • Long driveway at the end of Hope Rd, Freemansburg, PA (Boat Launch)
  • Riverview Park, 25th Street, Easton, PA
  • Hugh Moore Park, south of 25th Street, Glendon, PA (National Canal Museum)
  • Hugh Moore Park, north of 25th Street, Glendon, PA

Scenic overlook at the Lehigh River chain dam
My preference is Riverview Park because it offers easy access to all parts of the trail and also has restrooms.  The most Trikke-able portion of the trail runs southwest from the park to the boat launch.  Here riders can enjoy 2 1/2 miles of wide and nearly flat pavement alongside the Lehigh River.  When I was first learning to carve, this was one of my favorite spots due to its short distance and relatively light traffic.

Near the boat launch, riders will find a fork in the road that leads them to the Palmer-Bethlehem Township Bikeway.  I like to call it the “Two Mile Hill.”  It’s not the steepest climb I know of, but it is the longest.  It’s a narrow stretch of aging asphalt that hooks under Route 33 twice as it heads back towards Easton.  The grade is only 1 degree for most of the run, but there are no breaks in the climb save a slight dip as it crosses a driveway near Hope Road.  The summit is a metal bridge spanning Freemansburg Avenue.  The hill’s dense tree cover makes it a haven in the summer, but be warned that climbing it in the fall can be treacherous due to debris.

Climbing the "Two Mile Hill"
Beyond the summit, the Palmer-Bethlehem Township Bikeway levels out and heads northeast another 2 1/2 miles back toward Easton.  Although it remains paved, there are numerous road-crossings, and pedestrian traffic through the neighborhoods can be problematic.  I was frustrated the two times I biked it, and as a result I never went that far on my Trikke.  But with enough determination, it could certainly be Trikked.
Returning to Riverview Park, there is a short ¼ mile section heading northeast that ends in a winding decent to Lehigh Drive.  Crossing the truss bridge along Hill Road leads to the two parking areas of Hugh Moore Park.  The southern parking lot is the largest, and leads to the National Canal Museum and the canal boat ride.

The trail itself continues beyond the northern lot, this time snaking between the Lehigh River and the D&L Canal.  This portion of the trail has some small hills which are quite challenging due to the narrower trail width.  The first 1 ½ miles of trail are reasonably Trikke-friendly, but beyond a small bridge near an old canal lock the asphalt gets crumbly and I consider it too risky to Trikke.  Riders with slightly more fortitude than I can continue all the way to the convergence of the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers.  I’ll offer one final warning; the bridge below south 3rd Street (Route 611) is prone to flooding and may be impassible unless your Trikke sprouts pontoons.

Beyond 3rd Street in the northeast and the boat launch in the southwest, the D&L reverts to gravel.  In between is enough asphalt to put a smile on the face of Trikkers of all skill levels.  Beginners can enjoy the flatter portion on the north bank of the Lehigh, while more experienced riders can brave the Two Mile Hill or the narrower, hillier trail on the south bank of the Lehigh.  Numerous photo opportunities appear along the way, and wildlife often peek out from the trees to marvel at our three-wheelers.

I have created a map of the trail with Trikke-related color-coding and notes.  Click on any trail segment, shape, or icon for complete information.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Meet the “Trikke Riders of Pennsylvania”

The carving movement has been gaining momentum on the east coast with an epicenter in southeast Pennsylvania.  A passionate group of riders has overcome the challenges of hilly terrain, brutal winters, and sweltering summers to put Trikking on the region’s map.

Founded in 2009 by Norman Lazarus, the Trikke Riders of Pennsylvania uses as its base of operations.  Yours truly stepped up as Assistant Organizer in 2012, and Susan C rounded out our leadership group in 2013.  Having three ride organizers enables us to cover a large geographic area, with Norman in southeast Pennsylvania, Susan near the Pennsylvania/Delaware border, and myself in the Lehigh Valley.

Our membership stands at 50 as of this writing, and a typical ride draws in half a dozen or more Trikkers.  We welcome riders of all skill levels, and are especially friendly to beginners.  Our early season rides in particular offer spare Trikkes for beginners to try, and experienced riders stay near the parking area to give lessons.  Some riders also bring their children and spouses, even if they are riding on roller blades or bicycles.  We’ve even had a small dog run alongside us!

May 2014 LSM - Philadelphia Art Museum
We are committed to hosting LSM rides (Last Saturday/Sunday of the Month) from April to September, and will consider them other months if Mother Nature cooperates.  We’ve had a strong turnout for 2014’s LSM’s so far:
  • March LSM:  6 Trikkers at Warminster Community Park
  •  April LSM:  13 Trikkers at Warminster Community Park
  •  May LSM:  11 Trikkers in Philadelphia (Art Museum, Martin Luther King Blvd, Kelly Drive)
  •  June LSM:  7 Trikkers on the Horsham Power Line Trail

Although we are still working out the locations for the year’s remaining LSM’s, you can pencil in the following dates:  Sat. 7/26 morning, Sun. 8/31 afternoon/evening, Sat. 9/27 morning, and Sat. 10/25.  We are hoping to branch out geographically with some of these rides, and we are looking at Jersey City, Delaware City, Lancaster, and the Jersey Shore as potential destinations.

Chester Valley Trail
In addition to the LSM’s we host 1 or 2 Friday night “Happy Hour” rides at each month on the Chester Valley Trail in Malvern, PA.  This trail is 15 miles long and growing.  The western end is flat and beginner-friendly, while the central and eastern segments feature some gradual but long hills.  We typically choose a 5 mile segment (10 mile roundtrip) for the ride and rotate through the sections to keep things interesting.

You can find more information and ride schedules on our Meetup page at:

We also have an expanded group of “Trikke Riders of Delaware and Southeastern Pennsylvania” on Facebook at:

Our rides post to both locations in hopes of reaching a larger geographic area.  We hope you will join the carving action on one of our rides soon!

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

T12 Foot Deck Replacement

The T12 Roadster is the Trikke of choice for many riders, but the pre-2011 model lacks some of the comforts and amenities found on the current model.  The old sandpaper deck grips are the most glaring deficiency and are likely the first thing that will need to be replaced.  They wear out quickly, and once they are smoothed down your foot will easily slip off.  Furthermore, they transmit all the road vibrations directly to your sole, and your feet will likely be burning after just a few miles.

Fortunately, there are several easy and inexpensive upgrades for the deck grips.  The first choice is to replace them with Trikke’s own laser-cut grip tape (approx. $13) which reportedly will last 20 times longer than the stock grip tape.  The second is to upgrade to the same rubber foot decks that come standard on the current T12’s.  Although they cost substantially more (approx. $35), the increased comfort and durability makes it worth the expense.

The rubber decks are curved at the back to match the curvature of the new T12 fenders, but they will still work against the older straight-edged fenders if you don’t mind a small gap at the rear.  Your feet should not be this far back anyway, so the gap will not affect your performance.

Although I have been planning this as a future upgrade for my copper T12, I got a chance to do the work first on my friend Megan Hanley’s black T12.  Megan is a new Trikker, and she bought this Trikke secondhand off of Craigslist.  It needed numerous repairs and upgrades before she could safely ride it, and I thank Megan for letting me photograph the deck upgrade for my article.

To remove the old decks without scraping and marring the paint, you will need a hair dryer or heat gun to soften the adhesive.  At the time I began the grip tape removal on Megan’s Trikke, it had been sitting in the sun for two hours which also helped.  Begin the removal by heating one end, and gently use a flathead screwdriver to begin the removal.  Once you’ve got it started, just pull on it gently by hand as you continue to heat it.

Unfortunately, there may still be some adhesive residue on the metal deck even after the grip tape is removed.  I have read of people using a variety of solvents to remove this, but as I had nothing handy (and quite honestly was being too lazy to go shopping and play trial-and-error with things) I continued to heat the adhesive with the hair dryer as I rolled the adhesive off with my fingers.  This does take some patience, but the adhesive will roll up much like rubber cement.

Before applying the new rubber decks, wipe down the metal decks with rubbing alcohol to ensure a clean surface for adhesion.  Test fit the new rubber decks to be sure of their position before removing the paper backing.  Now you’ve reached the easy part; carefully line up the new decks and press them into place.  And just like that, you’ve got an old T12 with all the comfort and grip of a new one!

I again thank Megan for letting her T12 be the guinea pig for this work.  We are both delighted with the results, and I will be doing this upgrade to my copper T12 in the very near future.

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Spring Thaw – Take 2

Everyone knows the old saying, “if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.”

This spring has certainly put our resolve to the test as rainy, windy, and even snowy conditions have delayed many of our spring riding plans.  The first casualty was Trikke Riders of Pennsylvania’s LSM scheduled for 3/29 in Warminster Community Park which was besieged by heavy rains.  The rescheduled ride for 4/5 saw only half the riders able to make it, and even they braved strong headwinds as they taxied up and down the runway on their three-wheelers.  (Yours truly had another commitment that day.)

Several of us met for an impromptu LMM (Last Monday of the Month) ride at Glasgow Park in Delaware.  We were also plagued by raging winds, but enjoyed exploring the park and getting to know each other better.
Norman, Ken, Jamie, Megan, Susan, and Pam at Glasgow Park
I followed this up with a solo ride at Rodale Fitness Park when Tuesday gifted me beautiful weather and an unusually easy commute home.  But this ride was also a reminder of why we must ease back into our fitness regimens, as it left me with sore and strained muscles and a recovery of nearly two weeks.

I rode the electric Pon-e Lite last Monday as I explored the new Michael N. Castle trail in Delaware with Susan, Megan, and Cassidy.  Again, high winds were a constant, but they joy of being outdoors and exploring a new trail with friends gave me the determination to push forward.

Yesterday’s ride on the Palmer Bikeway with new Trikkers Jim and Val finally set me back on the path to recovery, both physically and emotionally.  The weather was as picture-perfect as a day can get, and it was a joy to help my new friends improve their riding skills.  I extended my ride with a solo excursion to the northern end of the trail and back racking up a total of 6 for the day, and 27 for the season so far.  While that may not sound like much, it’s quite an achievement after a solid 5 months of inactivity during the harshest winter in recent memory.

Looking forward, the Trikke Riders of Pennsylvania have scheduled April and May LSM’s in some of our favorite locations.  We will return to Warminster Community Park on 4/26, and Trikke on Martin Luther King Boulevard in Philadelphia on 5/31.

I hope to see both old and new friends at these rides, and as we head for another beautiful mid-60 degree day here, I hope we can now safely say that winter is behind us.

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Spring Thaw

It’s sunny now, almost warm, and there’s this funny green stuff poking through the carpet of white in my yard.  My cats are watching the birds flutter about in the bushes beside my window, and the itch to ride my Trikke has become unbearable.  This can mean only one thing . . . IT’S FINALLY SPRING!!!!

If you live in the northeast, my mind’s eye sees you nodding in agreement as you read this.  If you don’t, I can feel your deep sigh of relief since you’ve no doubt heard our horror stories about one of the harshest winters in decades.

As I re-read my last few posts here, I realize my winter has not been as productive as planned.  My dreams of writing and web designing were replaced with almost daily shoveling, snow-blowing, and ice-breaking.  My aching body decided it wanted to do nothing more afterwards than to curl up on the couch with my cats and read “Game of Thrones.”  Winter truly did come (I love you Ned Stark, but did you have to be right about that?!), and I suppose I picked a great season to read the series as the weather outside set the mood and atmosphere to bring Westeros to life.  But now it’s finally time to snap myself out of my winter slumber and march myself down the Kingsroad to my stable of Trikkes.

Spring ahead . . .
Luckily all has not been lost this winter.  The Trikke Riders of Pennsylvania picked up several new members during the deep freeze, bringing our total to 45.  And we have set our first LSM ride for March29 at Warminster Community Park.  As of this post we have 12 riders signed up, and surely more will join us with the ride still two weeks away.

If you haven’t ridden with us here before, please consider joining us.  This is one of our most popular ride locations, and it is well-suited to riders of all skill levels.  The entire concrete runway is open for riding, as well as paved trails around the park’s perimeter and across the street at Northampton Municipal Park.

Whether you are looking to carve your very first mile, sweat out an epic 20-miler, or do something in between, this park will give you the ride you’re looking for.  I am eagerly joining this ride, although I may only be able to do a few miles as I seek to reclaim the energy and fitness I lost over the winter.

I am also considering this blog “reopened” for the season, and I still hope to launch a companion website soon.  Elise Bennett’s Trikke Universe has grown well over the winter, and you can read my Keystone Karvers blog there as well.

Winter may have gotten us down for the count, but it’s time to spring back into shape.  I hope all of you are done digging out of the mess and heading for the trails soon too.

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year, New Universe

I’d like to interrupt my winter slumber to wish everyone a very Happy New Year and to share some exciting Trikke news.  2013 saw the end of an era as Trikke World Magazine folded unexpectedly, but 2014 has already built a new home for our carving community.

I’m thrilled to announce today’s debut of Trikke Universe, a site built from scratch by Elise Bennett.  The site will form the new hub of the Trikke community, complete with articles, blogs, links, and a new forum.

I’m also happy to say that one of the site’s blogs is my own new “Keystone Karvers.” 
Here I will share the best articles from this blog, as well as updates on the carving scene in Pennsylvania and the east coast.

Please join me in thanking Elise for her hard work to establish the site.  There is room for others to be involved too, so if you have an interest in helping out please let Elise know.

Here’s to wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year, and lots of joyful miles of carving.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

A Long Winter’s Nap

I know what you’re thinking . . . didn’t I just have a long autumn’s nap?  I haven’t exactly been writing here for a while, but a long autumn’s nap would be the furthest thing from the truth.  I know it’s easy to throw around the “busy” excuse in this day and age, but “busy” is exactly what I have been these past three months.  I don’t want to bore you with the litany of “must do’s” I have been faced with, but I did want to take a little time today to reflect upon the year that is winding down, and look forward to the new year that is just around the corner.

The highlight of the year was the growth our MeetUp group, the Trikke Riders of Pennsylvania.  We hosted 14 rides from late March through mid-November.  We hosted our inaugural group rides in several places:  Rodale Fitness Park, the Chester Valley Trail, the D&L Trail, the Cooper River Trail, and Liberty State Park.  We had strong turnouts, including several new members.  Susan has begun organizing rides, which will give us three organizers going into 2014.  I’m anticipating another strong year of fun and growth for this group.

As for this blog, it has been going strong for nearly a year and a half.  Sure, it’s had its highs and lows, but it helped me learn better what I like to write and what everybody likes to read.  Despite this strength, my main reason for writing today’s post is to say that I will be taking a break from the blog this winter.  I’m not going to try to fill it with half-hearted non-Trikke posts just for the sake of doing so, because I have chosen to direct my energy to other projects this winter.

A few posts ago, I hinted at two exciting changes coming for this blog.  Sadly one of them will not see the light of day.  I had been gearing up to write regular articles for Trikke World Magazine, but we now know that has ceased publication.  The other change is alive and well, and involves a new Trikke website I plan to build over the winter and launch in time for the spring riding season.  This blog will not go away, but will instead supplement the material on my new website.  I will have more information on this when it’s ready, but I wanted to give everyone something to look forward to as winter descends upon us.

In the meantime, there has been a lot of other Trikke community-building happening online since the demise of Trikke World Magazine, so I’d like to leave you with some links to keep you informed and connected this winter:

Thank you for being part of my journey through 2013, and I look forward to an even better year in 2014!