The Toughest Day? (USA Day 9)

They say Day 3 is always the hardest of a tour, as your body adjusts and the early adrenaline fades. They say it gets easier from then on. I bloody hope so.


We had a short one planned – still easing into our mileage and trying to be kind to our bodies, plus wanting to explore Philadelphia a little, we’d plotted today as 43 miles, to Phoenixville PA.

A short day, so we left late, continuing last night’s great chat through breakfast with our inspiring hosts, but consequently didn’t get cycling until about ten. By midday we’d reached Philly, with its liberty bells and cheese steaks and Rocky steps, which were fine. A bit bland, across the board? Maybe we just weren’t in the mood for cities after New York blew our minds, but time passed and by 4pm we still hadn’t cycled more than 15 miles.


On the way north of the city, after ascending a steep ol’ hill to get to our chosen cheese steak cafe, Amy stopped on the side of the road behind me. It was the back of her knee, where a while ago she’d torn the meniscus slightly, twinging in a similar way. She’d spent the last two and a half days trying hard not to anger the front of her knee, and this was the consequence. Perhaps the seat was too high, or maybe she’d been focusing a bit much on keeping that heel down. Either way, it began to really plague her.

Progress was slow and painful, and while our path tracked the river and we passed beavers, vultures and rabbits, it was impossible to enjoy it with the hovering axe of a potential leg injury. Then we both lost our chains and, due to a bit of a design flaw of our Surly Disc Truckers, in both cases the chain became jammed hard between the crank and the frame. Thanks should go to Bob on the bridge, who offered both moral support and a chain tool, the second of which he had to go to his car for (during which time we fixed the chain anyway).

Hills became particularly tough, not on the legs or the lungs (both well-capable of hills twice that steep and five times as long) but on Amy’s twinging knee which was a constant millstone, and by the time we’d swooped through Valley Forge, George Washington’s wartime campground, the sun was setting behind the trees. We reached our destination just after eight, Amy hobbling. After a delicious pot roast and some stirring political debate with our host, Amy retreated to bed with an ice pack and an awful lot of fingers crossed. We’ll see about tomorrow. Lower saddle, painkillers, or just rest, we’ll find the solution.


Miles Today: 46

Total Miles: 146