Events: Festive 500 Day Eight
(2015) Ride Distance: 55 Miles/ -- Miles Remaining
In Paulo Coelho’s book, The Alchemist, he discusses how, when one is within reach of a goal, suddenly everything becomes difficult. His fable-esque story states this is the moment when the universe has decided to throw everything against a person to deem him worthy. It tries so hard to make the person quit as a sort of last-ditch effort. Perhaps that day was yesterday for me.
Groundhog Day. I can feel it. I opened my eyes and looked out the window. It has to be foggy as usual. But it wasn’t. It was sunny, and I shot out of bed acting like I had planned this whole thing to perfection. I got my route mapped out where it would send me north. This was going to be an enjoyable first-sunny-ride-in-ten-days experience.
There’s been a Doan Brothers tale that I never got a chance to share: In the days leading up to Washington’s crossing of the Delaware, the Doan brothers, Moses in particular, noticed a peculiar trait on the River. He noticed that suddenly no boats were available for crossing the Delaware for numerous miles. Apparently Washington had sent an order out commissioning the possession of all water-worthy crafts or their destruction. Moses Doan could have noticed the absence of boats to solidify his information that Washington was headed toward Trenton.
I chose a hurried pace down the New Jersey side of the Delaware from Milford to recreate this moment. On this route one will find numerous ruins as well as natural features that are hidden by summer lushness. Coming this way would also be a quick way to rack up miles toward my final tally.
It was also on this road that it felt like the Fates dealt me a favor. Not only is this road fairly simple to ride, it’s more enjoyable to ride with a tailwind that I was dealt. Perhaps, just perhaps, this was the moment when the Universe decided I was allowed to proceed to the finish of the Festive 500. Perhaps the ghosts of the Doans, who certainly operated on this side of the Delaware as well, gave passage so long as I kept their story alive. Or perhaps it was just a wind out of the north. Is there really a reason to overthink this?
The Doans had a couple of run-ins on the New Jersey side in the parts off of Route 29. It’s supposedly where a love interest of one of the Doans lived and, after being rejected, managed to be in the right area to beat down an intruder in her home. These outlaws certainly knew their way around these parts.
I crossed at Stockton, NJ, into the Pennsylvania river hamlet of Centre Bridge. I turned up River Road to Paxson Hill Road to explore roads I used to use regularly. The ridges came into view as I was rolled into Carversville again for the Festive 500.
The next ridge that sees the town of Plumsteadville came into view. This was the land of the Doans. Their farm was in these parts, though I’ve not been able to locate it. Their tavern was in Hinkeltown, though I’ve not been able to find the foundation that is rumored to be present. But it’s where one of the more interesting Doan stories takes place: During their supply years for the British Army they would steal horses from locals, particularly the locals who they deemed unfavorable. One of them was a constant target of theirs. They robbed this farmer of the same horse three times. However, in some modern-day Robin Hood, each time the farmer was relieved of his horse, it came back in the ghostly same way it had disappeared. The Doans were apparently famous for returning horses when they didn’t need them.
I rolled into familiar lanes and courts. The wind had whipped up but I didn’t care. The Festive 500 was complete. Now I know I said I would celebrate at the Gardenville Hotel to end this whole story, but my early departure made not possible. I decided I would save this for the weekend when I could ride down to Carversville, where the local boy let it slip that he needed more flour because the Doans were at his house. I would then fly up Point Pleasant Pike to the Gardenville where the word was passed onto William Hart who detested the Doans and flew to the house reported by the boy.
What happened after that can be researched on various sites. Or one can come to Bucks County to ride the historical roads that echo with the Doan presence.
When I started the Festive 500 I did so using the Doan Brothers as guidance as to where I should pedal. I feel that, although I wasn’t able to get to Newtown, I managed to visit some of their old haunts and consider how much they moved around the Bucks County as I tried to attain the distance of 500 kilometers. Perhaps the Doans did have something to do with the tailwind on the final day.
And speaking of feats of strength, in the same era of history, a mysterious man jumped over a stick in Lancaster, PA, much higher than anyone else in town. The man stated, “Your either the Devil or a Doan.” Upon finishing his sentence he looked up and noticed the man had disappeared. Perhaps the Doans, and their physical prowess, wouldn’t be so impressed with 500 kilometers of riding after all.