Weekend Wheeling in Philadelphia

The City of Rubberly Love
By Patricia Vance
  |  Gorp.com

Great meetings in history that never occurred: Ben Franklin and Rocky Balboa. Two famous Philadelphians — the worldly inventor-statesman and the rough-and-tumble, fictional boxer of celluloid fame — separated by several centuries but living only blocks apart. You know something, they'd have gotten along fine.

But that's Philly for you. One minute you're strolling in an 18th-century time warp on the streets of Society Hill, the next you're caught up in the pulse of funky, tattooed South Street ("Where the hippies meet," as the song goes). Cheese steaks and five-star restaurants, Mummers and opera, Philadelphia (or "Fluffya") is a city of contrasts that somehow works. Must be all of that "brotherly love."

Bikers are thankful for yet another Philly contrast: the undisturbed natural beauty of Pennypack and Fairmount Parks versus the industrial waterfront along the Delaware River. The parks place Philadelphia among the most green-blessed cities in the world.

To appreciate this side of Philadelphia, find your way to auto-free Forbidden Drive along Wissahickon Creek in the northwest part of the city — reachable by bike path from downtown. Tulip and oak trees tower overhead. The creek tumbles below. Deer wander the hillsides. You're 13 miles and a world away from downtown. Alternatively, head out of town along the Schuykill River Bicycle Trail to Valley Forge National Historic Park and enjoy the roads out there, especially those along the Valley Forge Auto Tour.

Like Rocky, you might be inclined to say, "Yo, Philly."

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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