I take back everything I may have said about cycling in Delaware. For those who don’t know, I now spend a significant amount of time in The First State, so named because it was the first state to get a commemorative quarter back when that was the big thing. The fact that there are almost no paths, that any route out of Wilmington is through the kind of neighborhood that doesn’t feel welcoming to spandexed speedsters, and the generally hellaciously high traffic levels, combined with my inability to find more than one or two rides even mapped on MapMyRide, made me despair of finding a decent ride around here without driving for miles and miles to a decent starting point. But I ventured down to New Castle, pretty much like Colonial Williamsburg except people live there, and picked a couple of rides starting at its Battery Park. Yesterday I tried The Coastal Evacuation Route, which gave me no assurance that it would ever, in event of a coastal disaster, lead me to any kind of higher ground, but it did take me through refineries and industrial areas down to Delaware City. The shoulders on these roads are not to be believed — routinely 8 feet wide, in perfect condition (except for strewn glass), and generally used only for turning. When they are used for turning, signs require drivers to yield to bicycles. Who’s the bike-friendly state now? Well, I did get a flat tire, but I didn’t let it stop me, and I took on another 14k after that to stick with my plan.
Tonight I tried another run out of Battery Park, around the suburbs of Christiana and so forth, and it was more of the same. Only faster — MUCH faster. I posted my highest average speed ever in the history of ever, 31.9 kph, over 51k — and in reality I was doing more like 32.5 until I hit some sloggy traffic at the end. It was astonishing, and I wasn’t even trying that hard. The combination of flat, smooth and straight just delivered an amazing boost to my speed.
And then after that, of course, I sought out the Performance Bike store and picked up some new jerseys (well, actually that’s across the bridge) and a proper raincoat, justifying it all with the commuting I say I would be doing, if I were ever actually in Albany to do it.