Cheesesteak Century

Tomorrow, I will be riding my bike to Philadelphia, and spending the weekend there, because…

  • It’s something I’ve heard New York cyclists do.
  • It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.
  • It’s something cool to do in observance of Bastille Day.

One of the more challenging parts of the ride is getting to New Jersey. One option is to go all out and ride over the George Washington Bridge and head southwest towards Philadelphia. It’s something better suited for riders living in upper Manhattan but not for someone in Long Island City, Queens. A second option is to take the ferry from Manhattan, at either West 39th Street or Wall Street, and go to Paulus Hook in Jersey City. This is a very common option and an especially nice one because it keeps you above ground the entire day, and it’s a quick trip that would only cost $9 for me and my bike. A third option is to take a train, either NJ Transit or PATH, to Newark and start there. This is the option I have selected.

My plan is to start from home and ride to the World Trade Center to catch an early morning PATH train. From there, I will cross the Hudson River into New Jersey and continue to the end of the line in Newark. I will start pedaling just outside of Newark-Penn Station. Part of me feels like a cheat for taking the train and starting in Newark, instead of New York proper, but two factors changed my mind:

  1. There’s only one feasible way to get from Jersey City to Newark, and it sucks. This requires you to cross two rivers, the Hackensack and the Passaic, along US-1/US-9. From all accounts, it’s a treacherous route. Traffic is heavy and moves fast. There is little room on the shoulder to ride. There’s also a steel bridge to cross, and I’m terrified of crossing steel bridges on a bicycle. This seems like a terrible way to start a long day on the bike.

  2. Continental United Airlines refers to its northeast hub as New York/Newark, NJ. If they get to pretend that Newark is the same as New York, so do I!

A map image of a planned route from New York/Newark, NJ to Philadelphia

My planned route will go through the hills of Summit and Middlesex before descending into South Bound Brook, briefly following the Raritan River as it splits into the Millstone River, which I will follow for about 20 miles. I will then head southwest through the towns of Hopewell and Pennington and then crossing the Delaware River where George Washington himself did in the town, appropriately called Washington Crossing. The rest of the route follows the west and north banks of the Delaware River to Philadelphia.

I have planned a few stops for food and fluids:

  • Mile 28. The town of South Bound Brook has some fast food chains and independent delis where I can have breakfast. It comes after riding through the most significant hills of the day, which appear to be rollers in the elevation profile.
  • Mile 64. After crossing the Delaware, the town of Yardley offers some sit-down and more casual options for lunch. I’m considering the Yardley Inn, which offers a three-course lunch for $15, or maybe opt for a simpler lunch at Cafe Antonio.
  • Mile 85. I’ll be going through a few towns as I follow US-13/Bristol Pike, and there appear to be a great deal of shops, service stations, and eateries for that last stretch into Philadelphia.

The one part of the trip I can’t control is the weather, and it looks like I’m getting a great day tomorrow. The forecast high will be in the low 80s, with little humidity, and it even looks like I’ll have a slight tailwind as get through central New Jersey. That’s so much better than my last really long ride with a steady headwind over a 150-mile route.

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