I took a short day today and am likely to take a rain/rest day tomorrow. I know that 93 miles doesn't sound too short, but it only took about 6.75 hours of riding, versus 9.25 yesterday. I stopped for several reasons: I had ridden more than 90 miles, a good motel buy ($35 for a Days Inn with quite a nice room and a modem jack), several good place to eat nearby, it was starting to rain (and has been raining for several hours as I write this), routes 15 and 11 had just combined to give very high traffic, and the next two miles of road are under construction and have no shoulder on the right side. I think the first and any one of the other reasons would have been enough, with all these things the decision was not a hard one.
This morning I slept in till almost 8 AM, but still was on the road by 8:30. I was hungry and I had to ride into towards Scranton to get breakfast. I rode only 1.5 miles to Abingdon where I had an excellent breakfast at Kathy's Cafe. After breakfast I rode on into Scranton. If I had to do it again, I think I'd ride back to Clarks Summit and then take 307 and 92 around Scranton. Riding though it wasn't too bad, but it took at long time, I got lost once (turn left on Cedar St just after the, really neat, train station), and some of the riding was a bit dangerous: having to make turns from the left lane of an expressway, as well as dealing with 50 mph traffic merging from the right, and lots of exit/entrance lanes to cross. I think the other route would be faster and safer, but I haven't ridden it so I can't be sure.
Route 11 goes in to, and out of, the middle of just about every city on the route. This has good and bad aspects. The good aspects are related to actually getting to see things in the cities (like that neat train station in Scranton). The bad aspects are the extra riding time and the amount of urban and suburban riding required. I rode for at least 15 miles just getting through Scranton. Then I rode for another 15 miles before I got out of the strip of cities on 11 west and south of Scranton. Some of this riding was neat, some of it was dangerous. Most of time the outside, or only, lane was wide or had a good shoulder.
In addition to the Scranton Expressway part I mentioned above, there was a miles long stretch starting in Wyoming (PA of course), continuing through Fourty Fort and ending in Kingston, where there were four lanes of, often heavy, traffic with parked cars along the sides of the road. People were getting, or in some cases trying to get - the traffic was so bad that they were having a hard time, in and out of those cars so car doors were a real threat and the lane was not wide enough for a car, a bicycle, and a parked car with an opened door. Dangerous riding.
I stopped in Kingston to recover from that stretch and to get some Bagels before the end of the suburban sprawl. After Kingston things got more rural, and, after Plymouth, route 11 was quite rural. The shoulder came and went and the truck traffic was pretty heavy, but riding was generally OK to good. I'd say that, other than the urban/suburban parts, half of the route has a good shoulder, maybe another four tenths has a rideable, but rough with occasional potholes, shoulder and one tenth does not have a rideable shoulder. 11 usually has a middle passing/turning lane which largely eliminates the need for a shoulder. Even when I was riding on the shoulder, many drivers, and almost all of the big truck drivers, would pull over into the passing lane as they passed me. It almost as noisy as riding on an interstate, but not tense riding. I wouldn't do it again for pleasure - as I would some of the earlier parts of 11 and some of the parts in VA - but it was OK for 'getting on home.'
My average speed was high because, other than climbing out of Scranton (maybe 400 feet of total climbing) and climbing into Beach Haven (another 400 feet or so), it was a remarkably flat ride. I was often able to cruise at 16 to 20 mph. Pretty good for a loaded bike without a tailwind! What winds I had were mixed, with some moderate headwinds, but mostly no real wind.
That second big climb came shortly after I passed a big nuclear power plant labeled 'Steam Generating Station.' Not a nuclear plant, a 'Steam Plant.' Similarly the Prison was 'State Correctional Institution Retreat' (with ribbon wire atop the fences) and the Reformatory was 'Maximum Security Institution for Youth Development' or something close to that.
I stopped before Berwick, at a ice cream / dining place for lunch. Bad choice. Expensive and not very good food. I've been suffering from it ever since. Ah well, the pineapple shake was good. I stopped again in Danville for hot chocolate and a bagel, and to put on my knee warmers. My left knee was hurting and, as the temp was about 70 F and falling, I figure the knee warmers would help. They did.
The weather was threatening all day today and I am amazed that I rode over 90 miles without getting rained on. I did get a few sprinkles, but nothing measurable. As I rode out of Northumberland, light rain was starting. A few miles later, quite pretty miles right along the river, I decided that I'd stop at a motel that I hoped (I do a lot of hoping for places to stay and places to eat..) would be at the intersection of 15 and 11. My hopes were realized on both price and location.
I think when I leave here - possibly tomorrow, more likely the day after - I will go back a few hundred yards and cross the river to Sunbury. I can ride down the other side on little roads and leave the bad traffic on this side. Then, in Harrisburg, I can cross back over and, eventually, get back on 11 after it is paralleling I-81 again and the bad traffic is gone. I hate to abandon my ride of 11 in this way, but I'd hate it even more if I got run over in the traffic / construction mess I see ahead of me on 11/15. My proposed route simply parallels 11/15 where 11/15 is the major arterial.
I walked about a quarter mile back down the road to a shopping center after supper tonight. Coming back I noticed that pedestrians are prohibited on this road. I can certainly understand why. Some parts of 11 in this state, including the Scranton Expressway and the next 50 miles of 11/15 aren't suitable for anything other than car and trucks.