The Hidden River Ride & Philly Pop Ups

Many things about Philly are surprising–the people are nice, the food is great and the history is at your fingertips.  It’s almost the corollary to Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon slogan, where “all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking and all the children are above average.”  To me, nothing in Philadelphia is close to average.

fullsizerenderThat said, Philadelphia is a new place to me, and not quite home, so I have been traveling on weekends to visit friends, family and familiar places.

This weekend, one in the midst of a heatwave, I stuck it out and decided to jump all in for the Philadelphia Bike Club‘s annual ride, the Scenic Schuylkill Century.  Against the wisdom that overcomes training, I have not ridden more than 60 miles this year, and less than 20 miles in the fortnight leading up to the ride (I was out of town, dontchyaknow?) and I knew it was going to be a leap–but I have traveled along the Schuylkill enough to know it’s flat, so I was sure it wasn’t going to be that hard.

It’s always wise, however, to read the fine print.  “Schuylkill” is dutch for “Hidden River” and on September 11, 2016, I felt like I had found the “hidden” hills of my regular daily commute along the bike path.  There was no path to follow, and within the route that extended west from Conshohocken, PA, there were +4980 feet of climbs to find.


I was fine until I hit mile 80, and from that point–my lungs, heart, head and legs warned me to go much slower, and I crawled into the end point for a slice of pizza and something cold to drink.  But my start had been Center City–and I had 10 more miles to go.  I dreaded the extra miles it would take me to get home, until someone in my (well-trained) group added, “We can end at Parks on Tap!”

Any resident Philadelphian will remind you that Ben Franklin once said, “Beer is proof that God loves us” and this is a mantra that has served the city well.  “Parks on Tap” is a collaboration with the city that brings a pop-up beer garden to 14 spots around the city–if you don’t have a patio, back yard, or built-in friends, this is a place to go to find comraderie, grass beneath your feet and good drinks within a tailored, out-door garden!

I chose a hefeweizen, which seemed to fit the weather and my depleted move, but others opted for a Yards IPA or the Sly Fox IPA (those people had more training than I!)  The stop was refreshing in all senses of the word.

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I am a fan of Parks on Tap and am lucky that a day spent in the pursuit to find more about the hidden treasures of the area and people, I was able to end the day finding yet another reason Philadelphia is a great place to live…and bike!