Friday, July 11, 2008
Total Odometer Miles: 697.67
Max Speed: 45.3 mph
Moving Time: 66hr 53min
Moving Avg: 10.4 mph
Stopped: 24hr 23min
Overall Avg: 7.6 mph
Total Ascent: 29,681'
Thursday, July 10, 2008
We left Ashland, MD around 8:00AM yesterday morning and had about 12 miles to go to hook back up with the ACA route. Actually, the ACA route used to pass through here and most of the roads we were riding are the old ACA route. It was a beautiful area with smooth though narrow roads lined with grand old trees and white fences running straight through the undulating topography delineating horse pastures. Unfortunately this area has grown a lot and these little roads carried heavy commuter traffic. Traffic was heavy enough that we couldn't really enjoy the area, though we only heard one "Get out OF THE r-o-a-d" yelled at us, and that funnily enough from somebody in the opposing lane who wasn't affected by our presence at all.
We were approaching the D.C metro area so none of the roads we rode were really quiet, but it was pleasant enough riding. We stopped for a second breakfast sitting at a picnic table outside the deli that cooked our breakfast, and had a nice conversation with a couple of workmen who had stopped for their lunch.
Eventually we reached a part of the route -- Rt. 30 -- where a major construction project was going on and the route was posted "NO BICYCLES", but no alternate route was offered so we really had no choice but to press on. Most of the way we had a shoulder to ride on though for part of the way we had to cross the road and ride against traffic, but finally we reached a section with no shoulder to either side and both lanes constricted by jersey barriers, and there was nothing to do but take the lane and force the 50+mph traffic to slow behind us. Finally we were through it and turned off on a quieter road.
Mid-afternoon we reached Rock Creek Regional Park and turned in. We rode through this beautiful park until we reached the northern end of the Rock Creek Trail which leads in to Washington, D.C. We followed this trail south with a few navigational questions when there were unsigned trail intersections. Eventually we were far enough south to know that the spur trail through Bethesda should be close, and by questioning other trail users managed to find it and ride right into downtown Bethesda. From here it was just over a mile to Jodi's sister's house, and we arrived around 5:00PM after a 71 mile day, making a total of 698 miles since leaving Boston 12 days ago.
Right now I am sitting in my sister-in-law's living room watching Stage 6 of the Tour de France and those young riders sure do ride farther and faster than we do, but they don't carry their own luggage nor do they have to deal with motor traffic. Wimps!
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
We are at the Hampton Inn in Ashland and have about 12 miles to get us back onto the ACA route in Reistertown tomorrow morning, then about 50 more miles to get us to Jodi's sister's house in Bethesda, so it looks like we'll be finishing up tomorrow.
Monday, July 07, 2008
We found ourselves riding through rolling farm country with Amish men working the fields with horse teams. The weather was as it has been for days, heavily overcast but not quite raining. We rode for a couple of hours and while climbing one of the many hills noticed a couple on a tandem with panniers up ahead of us. We eventually overtook them and chatted for a minute before continuing on. They were the first and so far only other touring cyclists we've seen on this trip.
Soon after it started raining lightly. Finally I asked Jodi to pull over and I put the rain covers on my panniers. This is usually enough to make the heavens clear and the sun appear, bit it didn't work today. Soon we were riding in a downpour and got ourselves thoroughly soaked. Of course there is nothing wrong with being wet, as long as you're not cold, and it was a warm rain on a warm day, so we were happy to continue riding. Soon after the rain tapered off and ended, we arrived in Manheim, PA and it being lunch time we stopped at a local grill for lunch. The air conditioned restaurant soon had us in our wet clothes thoroughly chilled so we wasted no time in getting back out on our bikes. The sun was out now so the chill restaurant was soon a fond memory as we sweated up more hills.
Our original plan for the day was to cycle to York Furnace and camp for the night, but our laundry from yesterday had not yet dried and now all of our cycling clothes were wet. The forecast called for more rain as evening came as well as overnight, so we decided to get a room somewhere and get everything dried out. Looking at the map there were few options so we decided to stop in Columbia, PA on the bank of the Susquehanna River. That made a short day of only 45 miles and we arrived here before 2:00pm and had a very relaxing afternoon. Just as we were about to walk to a local restaurant for dinner another shower came through which we sat out on the wide front porch of the Columbian B&B where we are staying.
Our 45 mile day puts us 572 miles from home.
While I type this Jodi has been looking over the map for tomorrow's route and it turns out there isn't any place to stay--neither camping or hotel or motel -- other than the campground at York Furnace which is too close for a day's ride, for at least another 75 miles, and that only if we take the alternate route into downtown Baltimore. If we stick to the main route we would have to ride nearly to Bethesda, our ultimate destination, to find a place to sleep tomorrow night. It looks like we will have to depend on the POI database in our GPS to find us something off-route when we feel like we've ridden far enough tomorrow.
Oh, I almost forgot. Remember that tandem couple I mentioned earlier? While Jodi and I were on our way out for dinner tonight they were just arriving at this same B&B! Paul and Jane are from northwestern NJ and are heading for Reston, VA. Hopefully we'll get to chat some more over breakfast in the morning.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
We left Norristown along the Schuylkill River bike path and immediately crossed the river into Valley Forge National Historic Park. We took our time poking around the park and didn't leave there until almost 11:00, then headed west and stopped at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Park after lunch. We spent a couple of hours there and didn't leave until nearly 3:00, then pushed on a bit more until we reached a campground just across the Lancaster County line. The forecast had a 60% chance of rain today and it looked like it was ready to happen all day but it held off. Right now it looks and sounds like a thunderstorm is on its way so we may be cooped up in the tent reading very soon.
We made 47 miles today, putting us 527 miles from home, and probably about 150 or so miles from Bethesda.
On Saturday it happened; my brain slipped into touring mode. When we started out in the morning everything felt calm and peaceful and gentle. We rode lazily along quiet back roads along the Delaware River, and later on the D&R Canal Bike Path. We stopped for lunch in Lambertville after about 35 perfect touring miles. And yet again the ever-threatening skies held off and we got only the occasional stray raindrop.
After lunch we turned west and left the river headed for Norristown. Bucks County, PA is very pretty with prosperous looking, well-tended houses. It also seems to be growing fast with new housing developments going in everywhere, making the roads probably more trafficed than when the route was originally laid out. The roads here are laid out mostly in a grid pattern and we were traveling across the grid at an angle so we made a long series of right and left turns until we finally arrived in Norristown. The route actually skirts the town coming down to the Schuylkill River and it's bike path at the western edge of Norristown, so when we got there we turned east on Main Street and rode into town looking for a nice place to stay. Well, we kept riding and riding until we rode right out the other side of town, and all we saw was slum after slum. Norristown is evidently a city on the wane and no place I would want to spend a night of my vacation, so we turned around and rode back through town and finally located a nice hotel out in the western suburbs located in the middle of mall hell; the typical suburban sprawl of big box stores and chain restaurants. After a tough 80 miles we didn't care and had a great night in our comfortable hotel room.
Happy Anniversary Jodi Mary Silver, and thank you for agreeing to marry me!
As I mentioned we made 80 miles on Saturday, putting us 480 miles from home.