I had planned to take my e-bike out for a spin once the weather improved. Cold weather and uncomfortable mornings in early May had made me hesitant to go cycling. However, when I woke up on the weekend and checked the weather, I was relieved to find a wonderful forecast of warmer weather and clear skies. I couldn’t miss this opportunity, so after enjoying a hearty breakfast, I ensured my helmet and trusty Xpremium bicycle were in good condition. Then, I set off towards Rocky Hill.
Years ago, Bhavna and I embarked on a winter walk along the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail from Griggstown Lock to Kingston Lock with a group organised by the Montgomery Friends of Open Space. It was an invigorating walk in freezing weather. On a few other occasions, we also walked from Kingston Lock to Millstone Aqueduct and once from the Millstone Aqueduct to the Harrison Street Bridge. Simple pleasures.
My previous rides on the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail were shorter, so this time I aimed to go a little further. My plan was simple; ride from Rocky Hill to Kingston Lock, take a breather, capture some photographs, and then continue to the Millstone Aqueduct and footbridge. However, upon reaching the footbridge, I wanted to push on. I told myself I would go as far as Lower Harrison Street. Crossing the footbridge, I carried on.
When I arrived at Lower Harrison Street, I questioned myself, “How far can you go?” I worried about going too far, becoming too tired, or experiencing low blood glucose that would require Bhavna to come to my rescue. I checked my camera bag to ensure I had enough jelly beans to manage potential hypoglycemiahypoglycemia1. Feeling confident, I continued my journey.
I crossed the Washington Road Bridge, then the Alexander Road Bridge near Turning Basin Park in Princeton. Each time I reached a bridge, I wondered, “How much further can I go?” By crossing the Alexander Road Bridge, I had mentally committed to continuing to Port Mercer.
Port Mercer, a hamlet in Lawrence Township, owes its development to the opening of the Delaware and Raritan Canal in 1834. Before the canal’s construction, the area mainly consisted of agricultural land, primarily located further east and centred around Clarksville along the Trenton-New Brunswick Turnpike, known today as US Route 1. Prominent families like Clark, Gordon, Applegate, Phillips, Arrowsmith, and Forman owned extensive estates and farms close to Brunswick Pike.
The canal’s inauguration brought the residents a new avenue of transportation and economic opportunity. Alfred Applegate, an enterprising individual, seized this chance and established a store near the present-day bridge crossing, adjacent to the newly constructed canal bridge house. Over time, the store changed hands, with notable figures like John A. Crater and Charles Mather taking charge. By the 1850s, the canal hamlet thrived, featuring a cluster of homes, a post office, an inn, a steam-powered sawmill, a coal yard, and a turning and delivery basin.
The name “Port Mercer” emerged from the basin’s significance. It served as a loading and delivery area, facilitating direct transportation and the exchange of goods with larger markets in Trenton and New Brunswick. Additionally, it established connections to major cities like Philadelphia and New York City.
The ride to Port Mercer was a simple yet invigorating experience. The air smelled crisp and clean. I enjoyed witnessing everything that makes the Delaware and Raritan Canal Park Trail so fascinating - birds, turtles, humans walking dogs, paddle boats, and wildflowers. I even caught a glimpse of a snake. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride there and back again, with paddle boats gracefully gliding through the canal.
A sense of contentment washed over me as I made my way back. The ride offered a blend of adventure and tranquillity, for which I felt grateful.
- I have Type 1 diabetes and manage my blood glucose with insulin. Hypoglycemia is always a concern. ?