Rides We Like: Rodale Fitness Park
(2018) It’s Sunday afternoon and there is a bustle in Trexlertown, PA. It could be the local cricketers hurling in sweltering heat that accounts for the cars. Perhaps it is the random pavement velodrome next to it that has attracted all those cars, except the collection of automobiles are concentrated across the street. From all those cars one could take the paved walkway, past sign for Rodale Fitness Park, past the pavilion access, beyond the kids play area complete with bike track, and onto a one-mile loop that is three lanes wide. It is a park that should be in every community in the States.
It is not just random Sundays one can find cyclists zooming around the course. Thursday nights are for racing as well. It is home to the Thursday Night Training Series. Twenty dollars gets you a number to keep for the rest of the season. Each race after that, provided you have your number, is eight dollars. Those sprint primes are good for move-up points, too. It is a park that is heavily used, predominately by cyclists. It is the best part about the park, but it could also be its undoing.
Rodale Fitness Park is unique. It has a one-mile loop with scant elevation change and plenty of passing areas for the competitive cyclist. We have raced there dozens of times. During off-race times, the traffic flows the opposite way. Should a racer need to access the pits, Rodale Fitness Park also has a paved path through the middle to provide a half-mile loop. It acts as a warm-up lane, too. There are a couple of soccer fields and a few benches around the course. It is a well-used park, consistently populated by recreationalists getting outside. How many times have you gone to a park to find it empty of people? Not this one.
This past Sunday we noticed an odd urgency in the order of events. The race had to be cleared out of the park in fewer than five hours. This type of urgency had never been implemented before. Perhaps the heavy cycling usage has caused residents to protest the amount of times they were greeted with a cone that states, “Asphalt Closed for Event.” Several years ago, during a Thursday Night Traing Series, a runner insisted on proving a point. Each lap he caused the peloton to react to his presence. He yelled back each passage with, “It’s a park, I can be here.” I wondered if his insistence of running at that time, during a well-established event, would be a voice of reckoning later. Just a few days ago when we talked about that story, other riders stated he would run during other races.
Bob Rodale was huge into cycling. The Rodale Fitness Park should be first and foremost a cycling park. While there are growing pains as the Trexlertown area becomes more populated, it should be noted just how heavily the park is used. Aside from larger parks that have lakes, many recreational areas in Bucks County can go from unpopulated to populate in just a single car. That happens often here. To have a park where fitness within the concept of cycling is centered is a great model for each community. As Rodale Fitness Park continues to strive to find a common ground for its residence, perhaps opening nearby parks with like programs could ease the demand for this little slice of cycling heaven. Imagine just how many more opportunities up-and-coming cyclists would have if they had their own Rodale Fitness Park just down the road.