I started the day at Rite-Aid buying a knee brace. It's a fabric sleeve that squeezes a knee and tries to keep it from shimmying around all over the place. I connected with the East Coast Greenway and followed reasonable roads all the way to Trenton New Jersey. Fuck Trenton. What's good there? Beats me. Bad vibes. I was hot and tired, but still in a hurry to move on. From Trenton to New Brunswick the ECGW follows a canal tow path almost exclusively. Some of this is great. But for long sections with freshly dumped gravel, bicycling kinda sucked. My tires dug in and sunk into the medium-diameter deep gravel. I'm not convinced this is entirely reasonable, considering that I have relatively wide (26x1.50) tires. I wouldn't want to attempt this with anything skinnier than 37c (my tires' nominal width). I was wishing for super fat tires. My touring bicycle tires are only going to get fatter with time. I'm just not seeing the drawback. Slower? My ass.
Later in the day my knee started feeling ok, and I got my typical late afternoon energy burst. I cruised at a good clip for a long distance - considering the terrain. I took a break where the tow path crosses the driveway leading to Sommerset Christian College. There was activity - some sort of Vacation Bible school. At 7:21 I was trying to convince the drinking fountain in the Gymnasium to squirt some water into my bottles. Beep, beep. Not happening. I used the sink in the bathroom. All the gravel-cruising got me covered in grit. I tried to wash off a little bit with some paper towels, but that wasn't helping too much. Continuing.
When the path ended in "New Brunswick" or whatever that was, I had gone 70 miles. This is further than I intended, but I felt a strong urge to get to the end of my current cue sheet. So I did. It was getting dark. Traffic was heavy, and I didn't know where to go next. Find a bar to sit for awhile? Fuck this area. I decided to follow the next cue sheet while looking for a place to sleep as quickly as possible. The sun had set, and the light was disappearing fast. It was a pseudo urban shitty area, for sure. I poked and prodded some trees and some areas, but it was all far from ideal. I found a "natural plant habitat" with what I'll call a bubble tree because I don't know what kind of tree it was. It was one of those trees with thick greenery and branches that poof out and go all the way to the ground. I rammed my bicycle right through the branches, and followed it in. It was like a fort in there. It was big enough to stand and move around a little bit. Big enough to camp. What a location though. I was very close to a big road - indeed a literal underhanded stone's float to a bus stop. I was in very close proximity to a nasty-stank embarrassment of a river. I was in viewing distance of a train bridge over said river. I was not ready to cycle further, so this was it. It was hot and stinky. I was gritty. It was 9:45. I was tired - but far from passing right out. I crawled in the bivy sack. It was too hot for full bivy coverage, so I just laid there half out.
The stink from the river was intense. I'm from Kennett Square. Kennett Square is the proud "mushroom capital of the world" - a small town so notorious for smelling that it was featured in a segment on The Daily Show, Craig Kilborn era. I've lived there, I've shoveled horse shit for a job. I say: this river stank unforgivably. It makes me sad to see how disgusting we've made our rivers. Getting worse daily. Solutions? I hope I can share reports on the conditions of rivers at the upper latitudes I'm aiming my bicycle at. Last I checked, the water was pure clear and beautiful there.
I laid there hot and full of thoughts. A cop pulled someone over, and boomed his voice over the PA system. His lights lit up my tree-dome like a disco. I brushed off the intermittent mosquito or crawler. I didn't sleep much.