Jersey Jaunts - Biking in (and around) New Jersey

Bike Philly

Bike Philly Website

2007, 2008, 2009, 2010

2009 update  Fairmount park was completely closed to parking this year and had to use one of the paid lots recommended by bike philly, it costs $10 to park but the lot is right next to the Schuylkill River Trail which gets you safely off-road to the start line. We again took the extra 30/50 mile open-road extension to the Narberth rest stop where we made the decision to tackle the 50 mile route since it was a nice day. The 50 mile route has bigger hills than the 30, but also has 10 miles of the flat Schuylkill River Trail rail-trail at the end.

2008 Update  Bike Philly was a week later this year than last, but the extra week didn't matter, with near record breaking heat and humidity it was one of the hottest rides we've ever rode. A few things were different this year, for one the ride began and finished at the oval in front of the Art museum. Parking this year was busier than I anticipated; Sedgely Drive had "No stopping" signs posted since the tour uses this road to access the park. We ended up parking elsewhere in Fairmount park, but if this ride continues to grow parking might become more difficult to find. The rest stops were a little more basic than the first year, no cookies or crackers, but there were still power bars, bananas, and the water and Gatorade had ice which was a welcomed relief with the heat.

We're outside Jersey again, but it's only Philadelphia, and with the start/finish at the Art Museum it's fairly easy to get to. There were designated parking lots for the ride a couple blocks west of the start area, but we used our knowledge from previous rides with the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia to secure free parking on Sedgely Drive, in fact the best way to park for the event is to take the zoo exit off I676 and come into the park from the north, avoiding the activity at the start line. This is the same location we parked for the Freedom Valley Ride, and is about a half mile from the start line. The registration tables were located at the base of the museum steps near the Rocky statue.

We had been anticipating the inaugural Bike Philly ride since it was first announced last year, and as regular riders in New York City's Bike New York - 5 Boro tour we knew how special riding on the closed streets of a major city can be. The Bike Philly ride differs from the New York ride as it offers multiple riding distances to chose from. The "paperwork" advertised a 10 mile city loop, and a second 10 mile park loop with traffic-free streets, the city loop was a full 10 miles, but the park loop was more like 8 miles. The organizers offered two supplementary loops on open-road, low-traffic routes that you could tack onto the ride for more distance; 35 mile (add +15 miles) and 50 miles (+30 miles).

The ride begins with all riders rolling down the Ben Franklin Parkway into Center City, toward the river, once reaching the river the tour turns south traveling past Penn's Landing before heading back into the city on the return to Fairmount Park. This part of the ride is very much like the New York five boro ride, where you need to watch for uneven pavement, man-hole covers, wobbly riders, etc. The ride organizers set a 12 MPH speed limit for the city loop to keep the moving pack manageable. After reaching the park the tour began to stretch out as the front riders were allowed to move at their own pace and the less experienced riders in the rear visited the early rest stops. Here is a GPS track for the northern section of the city loop, and here is a track of the southern section. The route through Fairmount park is very different than the ordeal experienced by 5boro riders in New York's Central Park; riders in Fairmount enjoyed good separation between each other, with few other non-tour park goers sharing the roadway. Here is a GPS track for the Fairmount Park loop of the tour. We chose to add the "35 mile" loop (adding 15 miles to the main 20), but it was closer to 30 miles when we were finished. The 35 mile route was well marked, and had the best stocked rest stop on the ride (Narberth), it including real restrooms too. Although a good number of riders were on this route, there were times you were cycling solo. Here is a GPS track for the "35 mile" add-on loop.

At the finish line festival we were treated to free hot dogs, pretzels, drinks, and music. After the festival we used the Schuylkill River Trail to ride under the highway and around the back of the museum to our car.