Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Popeapalooza ("The Saxophone")

In the prior post I explored some of the non-bicycle aspects of this epic event. In this post we'll dig into the actual rides, all three of them:
  • The Ride to the Pope Ride (pretty self explanatory). This one started with an informal meetup of about 30 riders in the parking lot of the Conshohocken Ikea. We rode the SRT via The Trolly Cafe,  Manayunk, and the Zoo to 30th Street Station.  Every mile got more Pope-ish with more riders, national guard troops, and palpable excitement growing.
  • The Pope Ride was of course the featured bike event. This was the Open Streets Edition rolling from 30th Street Station into Center City and then east to the river. Reports from the train station were that Market was jammed with riders queuing up for two blocks prior to the ride. Newspaper reports of hundreds" of riders were vastly understated. We joined the Pope Ride as it entered Center City and then took a leisurely meandering ride through the neighborhoods of East Philly with pedestrians queuing up at crosswalks and locals coming of their homes to take pictures and cheer on the riders. Magical.
  • After the Pope Ride we took a few hours to eat and explore the Center City festivities. Finally it was time for The Ride from The Pope Ride which somehow passed the same saxophone player three times before finally hooking up with the SRT heading north. We managed to work in a side-trip through an impressive cemetery perched on a hillside south of Manayunk (because we hadn't seen enough miles or hills or mausoleums yet). 
On the ride home I was struck by the number of people still streaming into town. Lots of extended families (grandparents, parents , and kids) pushing strollers down Kelly Drive. Some were in street clothes and others were dressed in their Sunday best. But what really struck me was that they had already walked many miles, and had 2-3 miles left to go, and then the same miles on foot after the festivities. This was HARD for many of these people, but the mood was celebratory and positive. This part was humbling.

My next post will feature some coverage from my daughter Sara who was also at Popeapalooza and who (unlike me) she stuck it out for the evening and got to see the man himself.


"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose."
     -- Dr Seuss

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