Philadelphia, PA and Lancaster, PA

Sorry there was no blog last night, but unfortunately the church we were staying at did not have any Internet access.

So on Wednesday we departed from Hillsboro on our way to Philadelphia, PA.  This was our first 80+ mile day, and I was a little nervous. Although the ride was very tough (90+ degree weather and lots of rolling hills), we had some great scenery along the way. The Pennsylvania countryside is gorgeous, and we finished our ride on a 20 mile bike trail leading down Schuylkill river into the heart of downtown Philadelphia (ending at the bottom of the famous “Rocky” steps). The church we were staying at was located in “university-town”, the portion of the city where all the different colleges are (UPenn, Drexel, St. Joseph’s).  The church was very interesting, and gave us a great big room to sleep in. As well, the U of I alumni club delivered us some pizzas, a much appreciated treat! But best of all, my friend Imani Green, who lives outside Philadelphia, came in town to visit. After hanging out at the church, us, Shea, and Steve went to get Cheese Steaks on the other side of town. It was great to hang out with her and see a friend from back home so early in the trip.

The next day, we woke up at 6 am again and departed by 7 15 for Lancaster, PA. We rode the same bike trail out of town, and after detecting some errors in the directions, found our way to the hills again. Although they are still tough, I really do think we are all getting better at riding up the slopes of the Appalachian foothills. This day was really special because of the different generous people we met along our route. First, when stopping at a gas station for a break, a random man bought the entire team cold bottles of water. It was  really refreshing! Then, we stopped on the side of the road at a fruit-stand outside an Amish/Mennonite family’s home. These were the most delicious strawberries I have ever had. After four of us devoured a quart in about 2 minutes, we proceeded to buy two more. The lady then gave us another quart on the house, and brought out some sugar for us to dip into. It was an amazing snack. After that, when our van got stuck in the mud, a truck going down the road stopped and help us tow it out. Immediately following, another nice Amish/Mennonite family let us use their shady lawn and gazebo for a lunch stop, and they even let some of the later groups have some of their fresh homemade strawberry ice cream (from the same strawberry stand a few miles back coincidentally). And this doesn’t even cover all the homes that let us stop and fill up our water bottles because it was another hot day just like the previous one. It was so uplifting to see all these strangers help us out in so many ways.

Now we have arrived at out stayover for the night, a church in Lancaster, PA. The chruch is huge! They have a brand new kitchen that they let us cook dinner in, a basketball coutrt where we are keeping out bikes, and most importantly, FULL SHOWERS!!! It had only been two days, but after the heat, I really needed it! Tomorrow is a shorter day (only 61 miles), so hopefully it wont be too bad on the legs. As I said, the riding has been tough, but it seems to be getting a little easier with every passing day. Next stop, Gettysburg!

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