Salisbury Viaduct, Great Allegheny Passage

Opinion | By Ian Power for The Philadelphia Inquirer

I’ve done one bicycle trip in my life and so naturally I’m insufferable about it: an absolute expert on interstate biking. I rant at my friends about a bike trip as the ideal post-pandemic travel dream, and their eyes just roll and roll. Though I had driven through Pennsylvania before, I’d never really experienced the people of your fair state until I dragged myself all the way across it atop a junky commuter bike, three summers ago.

Since then, including through an election cycle that starred Pennsylvania as a “divided state,” I’ve consistently wondered why I remember Pennsylvania so much more than the rest of my trip. Why is it the only one, of the five states I rode through, that I plan to cycle across again as soon as the pandemic allows? I believe that the answer has something to do with the people. Pennsylvanians, contrary to what I’d expected, were united in one very important and hospitable sense: being downright neighborly to some sweaty bozo bicycling through their state.

In July of 2018, I’d impulsively shucked my responsibilities teaching summer school in Brooklyn and opted instead, with very little experience, to bike the 1,200 or so miles back to my childhood home of Green Bay, Wis. Though I hadn’t ever adventured by bicycle before, I reasoned that since I rode my bike 5 miles to work every day, riding 1,200 miles would merely be like riding to work 240 times straight.

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