Following the route of last six years’ sophomore ride and the inspiration of the “Trail of Tears” cycling trip in 2004, and the 1996, 1998, and 2000 cycling trips of The Principio Project, the Sophomore Bike Trip is focused on enabling younger Peddie students to experience their country first hand, country that they, and much of modern America, could otherwise easily forget. A group trip in all respects, students not only ride each day’s route and explore the countryside but also plan menus, shop, cook, clean, and manage their own success and the success of the group, under the guidance of veteran Peddie faculty. Is the trip fun? Rich? Challenging? Worth the time? Read past participants’ testimony (see box on right).
This year we pedal out of Hightstown and head south to Bordentown, where we’ll load up in vehicles and leapfrog over suburban Philadelphia to a campground south of Reading. Then we’ll cycle through Lancaster County and Amish country, camp on the Susquehanna, head west below York and into Gettysburg, and then climb into the mountains west of Gettysburg. From Blue Ridge Summit we’ll turn south into Maryland and head through Boonsboro, Sharpsburg, and on to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. We’ll then drive into Washington, but finish our cycling with a tour down the National Mall, finishing at the foot of the Capitol. Cool.
Each day begins with breakfast, breaking camp, a route meeting, and, just prior to departure, the “Rumination,” or question of the day [“Does the land make the people, or do the people make the land?”] Cycling through the morning, stopping for a leisurely lunch along the road, we generally arrive at our campsite mid afternoon. The day’s food crew departs either after lunch or on arrival at camp to shop for that evening’s dinner, and the next day’s breakfast and lunch. Others enjoys the campsite, spending time making camp, writing in journals, comparing notes on the day’s trip. Dinner is a focus for everyone, and evening campfires, and the stories, songs, and camaraderie they engender, finish the day. The next morning, we happily do it again!
Important also are the cultural, historical, and geographic opportunities along the way. For example, we explore the town of Intercourse, PA; we stop and examine the exhibits and the battleground of Gettysburg; and we’ll enjoy the historical and cultural opportunities of Harper’s Ferry, WV. We also “smell the roses” along the way, easy to do in the Amish farmland of Lancaster County, along the forested mountain ridge carrying the Appalachian Trail through Maryland, along the quiet current of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal or the still powerful Potomac River.