Day 53: Philadelphia, PA

Hello Everyone!

Wow – first off allow me to say one thing: it feels so amazing to be writing this post on my own computer’s keyboard for a change. It’s pretty much surreal. I honestly walked into my apartment here in Philadelphia and barely recognized my bedroom. It’s just been that long. But I’m in my own bed! Bear with me (or enjoy, either one) if this post is longer than usual.

Today’s statistics:
Departure: Mountville, PA @ 10:15am
Arrival: Philadelphia, PA @ 7:00pm
Distance: 76 miles
Weather: Humid, a little hot, but a tailwind (slight)
Terrain: average direction downhill
Celebratory cheesesteaks eaten: 2
# of miles spent putting excess effort into my forward motion: 75


It’s time to stop, freeze, and think about just simply thinking. How easy is it for you to make a decision or reach a conclusion to a thought that you’re having? If you’re reading this, you probably can do it in milliseconds. For a brain injury survivor who’s recovering from his/her injury, it can seem like decades. And it’s likely that it might take decades to reach some conclusions, you never know. Those recovering from brain injuries get down to the heart of how our brains work. Please, think about it- in order to reach a conclusion about any one idea, we must all do some pretty high-order thinking. We need to process the concept first.

Here’s an example: Let’s say you’re sitting in your old, hardwood, rickety desk chair that you’ve had for decades. You hear a creak come from the wood as you lean back, caused by how all the glue in each joint has weakened over the years.  First, you have to realize there’s a problem – in this case, you must be :aware: of the noises the chair’s making, and take note. How about the instability? This relies on your brain and muscular system’s ability to detect balance. Brain injured people might not have balance. Okay, so you realize the chair’s not up to snuff. What next? Next, you have to weigh the options of what will happen if you don’t fix it. This is the really tough one for a BI survivor… In most cases, we must rely on previous experiences to determine present ones. So there you are, struggling to decide what a creaky chair might do. If you’re healthy, pictures or sounds of breaking wood should pop up in the neurons of your brain. Or you might be super lucky and the instability will cause adrenaline to flow. In the end, you a relying on memory, another part that BI survivors are bad with. So there, that’s your INITIAL assessment of whether or not to fix a chair.  I say fix it.

So you better believe it, I get to sleep in my own bed tonight! I’ve made it all but 75 miles to the Atlantic ocean, to my home in Philadelphia, PA.

The day started in a small town. Then, I kept rolling, and poof! I was back in the countryside with farms and roadside carts selling vegetables. But there’s also the added benefit: there’s trees, too. Actually, along the route I was on, there were lots. But I kept pushing on, along this straight and undulating road towards Valley Forge, PA. With the farms came one of my favorite cultures in the US: the Amish! I got to wave at the families traveling in their horse-and-buggie setups and see life carrying on in the low-tech way that only the Amish know. And well, they told me that I was close to home.

The rolling hills didn’t bother me at all. I felt proud to be sprinting up the hills, pushing the pace and closing the gap. Every time I’d been in Lancaster County riding by bike before, I’d been grunting up the hills. And go figure, I was riding a 100-pound bicycle and I hardly realized it.

I had a deadline. I had invited friends to ride into Philadelphia along the Schuylkill River Trail with me, starting in Betzwood. So I had to be there by 4pm. Oh, and I’d told Philadelphia Inquirer (newspaper) people that I’d be there by 3:45pm. So I rode. And tried to get aero, to little success. I ended up being about 45 minutes late, but nobody was all that upset with me. Thankfully! Thank you to the welcoming committee: Joe, Tim, Chrissy, Kristen (+1), Brett, Mike (Inquirer) and Akira (Inquirer)!

Here’s a link to the Philadelphia Inquirer article that came out the following morning:

With my crew, we rode into East Falls, where more family and friends were waiting to meet me. But! I couldn’t just ride home. I took the suggestion of Tim, to ride up the 17% grade Manayunk wall, a street that professionals race up each year as part of what used to be the USPRO championship bicycle race. It’s a doozy. But getting up it this time wasn’t a hard thing at all!



Alright – It’s time for me to call this one quits for now. I encourage ALL of you Philadelphia readers to come to the Philadelphia fundraiser event  on Saturday night! You’ll see me again, in person, with crazy suntan and all, and you’ll be helping raise funds for Brain Injury recovery, awareness, and research. So do it!     We’re raffling off a FUJI road bicycle there, so you know you want to come for that!

Happy Trails!


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2 Responses to Day 53: Philadelphia, PA

  1. Joe Kopena says:

    I mean, Drexel rides *have* to go up the Wall at least once, right??? It’d just be cheating otherwise.

  2. Caitlin T says:

    You made it back to Philly! Nice work. Sorry I’m not in town to celebrate with you by riding to the shore (or from VF). Hopefully Joe does double duty for us.

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