So I set out one morning to meet the BCP crew for what would have been my first official C ride. C rides are a bit faster than the scheduled D rides in which I’ve indulged so far, but ride leader Tim assured me that I’m quite capable of handling his C excursions. The gang was to meet at Penn Treaty Park. (As I’m sure, in fact, it did.)
I left the house at a little past 6 AM, caught a train, and ventured into Philadelphia, riding alone on the city streets for the first time. (I’d ridden in last year’s Tweed Ride, which in fact included a stop at Penn Treaty Park, but with someone else who navigated.) I’d printed out Google’s bicycle directions from the Market East train station, and viewed the route on Google Earth; I was good to go.
Or not. Although cold, it was a beautiful, sunny morning, and there was very little traffic where I was riding. A main street was missing a street sign, but I made that turn without difficulty, thanks to a lucky, and possibly logical, guess. Somehow, though, I never found the park.
I missed my ride. It’s an old problem. I couldn’t find my way out of a paper bag if I were facing the opening. Another day, I will figure out what went wrong, and get it right.
In the meantime, though, I headed back toward the train station, and realized that I was passing Reading Terminal Market. Reading Terminal is an indoor market full of food stalls and various other shops. It’s often packed with customers, but at 9:30 on Saturday morning there was lots of room to move about.
Not that we needed it. I’d added Basil’s front bag to his frame in case I needed to shed a jacket later in the (anticipated) long club ride, so I was able to move him around using the handle on the bag’s frame.
We wandered around a bit, checking out the various venues. Basil posed next to a store that sells honey in almost every imaginable form, including the marvelous dragon* below, which probably caught my eye because I’d seen the equally wonderful one, above, guarding a parking lot on my way back to the train station.
If I hadn’t had a healthy snack in Basil’s bags, I’d have been sorely tempted by the bakeries, even though I generally avoid such temptations.
The “general store” may be geared toward tourists, but it offers plenty of enticing treats, too.
This is Philadelphia, so naturally there are cheesesteaks on offer. I’ve never eaten one, and don’t intend to, but these coronary-inducing concoctions are the city’s iconic food. (Is orange squeezable cheese actually food?) Competition among local shops for the honor of the best cheesesteak is hot, and sometimes bad-tempered, but this morning the mood was strictly genteel.
Not every offering is Philadelphia-centric. This stall offers linens from Provence:
Nor are dining options limited to cheesesteaks. Foods from a wide variety of geographies are available.
There’s an “herbiary”, too, if you want to go home and make your own delectables.
Butcher, baker, and candlestick maker, all at Reading Terminal Market — and more!
Though no fan of cut flowers, I cannot resist the marvelous colors in stalls like this one. Basil didn’t mind posing here, either, and I noted how consonant his colors were with a number of the displayed bouquets.
I was sorry to have missed the anticipated 40 mile/64.3 km ride to Bristol, and even sorrier to have ridden only 7 miles/11.2 km by the time I got back on the train. The moral, though, is that no bike ride need be a disappointment: For the first time, I rode on Philadelphia streets, unescorted (though that “lack of escort” may have been an issue); spied new and interesting things; and enjoyed an unexpected look-in at a market to which I hadn’t been in years.
And just to cap it off, I went cycling when I got home. But that’s a post for another time.
* Edited: Whoops. The dragon is not made of honey. But don’t let that detract from the generally excellent stock offered.