Favorite Spot: 5th Street bike tunnel
Neighborhood: Old City
Address: 5th Street between Arch and Race
I Am: Into ads, dogs, cycling and my ladyfriend Gwen
Years in Philly: 9 (nonconsecutive- I moved back in ’10)
Current Home: Point Breeze
My Love Note
The 5th street tunnel.
I wait, straddling the crossbar on my single-speed as traffic streams North under 676 from Old City. It’s a long, straight drop from the steps of the US Mint from Race to Callowhill, and the bike lane is filled with debris. It’s better to wait until JUST after the light turns yellow on 5th. Check for other bikers. Check for obstructions. Check for cars. Check my brakes.
The cars ebb. I drop my feet into the pedal straps and push, hard and quick, picking up speed as the single-lane underpass unfolds in front of me. There’s a strange light in here at night, yellow and worn like an old porch light. The sound of lungs and pedals ricochet’s off the corrugated concrete walls. Keep the pedals moving, building speed. On a fixed gear you can’t stop pedaling; it’s easier to keep pushing then to let your legs loose.
I hope for no loose glass or screws.
I hit the bottom and begin the climb, pushing to keep as much momentum as possible. Drive drive drive your feet down I keep telling myself. Push through. Catch those cars slowly pulling up to the light at Callowhill. If I’ve timed it right, I hit the top of that tunnel and emerge as the light changes, careening off into the Northern Liberties night without slowing down.
That little stretch of road on 5th dipping below 676 is my inspiration for many evening rides. Often I’ll find myself heading out from my house in South Philly not having a plan past bombing as fast as possible down that long straightaway, emerging winded and excited on the other side and ready to explore the city.