No Way So Hey -Day Six

Let’s begin at the end. 

I arrived in New Bern, NC with low expectations. I am happy to report that they were greatly exceeded. What a cute little town!

Getting here was pretty ho him, though.

I left the Chateau Monte Python at daybreak with a quick stop at a gas station Quikie Mart for breakfast. Boy, did that chicken and cheese on a biscuit taste yummy. NOT. But it was calories. I neglected to write down the departure times for today’s ferry so I hammered away across the level ground in hopes of catching an imagined 9:30 ferry. 

The crops were the same. There were dogs from time to time too. (They really need to up their game. None of them came close to The Mule and me – although we did manage to accelerate to nearly 18 mph.) 

The poverty is wearing me down. Poor people living in crummy mobile homes next to old homes that are falling apart. Every few miles a hoarder, with a shit ton of junk either inside the house, on the porch, or strewn about the yard.

People here spend a ridiculous amount of time mowing their lawns. The lawns look like fairways on golf courses. They are cut so low. I suppose there is not much else to do.

It is apparent to me that your express your masculinity in these parts by having several big pick up trucks. You prove your virility by having big noisy tires, especially the kind that stick out from the frame of your car. 

So many houses have derelict cars in the yard. They’re like monuments to economic frustration and global warming. 

About 6 miles short of the ferry I stopped at an eatery that had the ferry schedule displayed. The early ferry left at 8:45  It was after 9:00 so I ordered some food. A hot dog. It was apparently a meat based food product but it was so desiccated from the microwave that it achieved a culinary impossibility; it tasted worse than the neoprene vegan hot dog I had at Nats Park. (Katie Lee, you may convert me yet!)

The ride to the ferry was lackadaisical. Even so I still had a 30 minute wait. There were two trucks and me for the 40 minute voyage across the bonnie Pamlico River. 

The ferry dropped us off at the Aurora Potash mine. Gray dirt in piles that extended for miles. We’re having fun now. 


The potash gave way to phosphate. This went on for a few more miles before we were back to legumes and cotton.

Along the way I was startled by a loud buzzing sound coming from beneath me on the bike. Apparently I had intersected with a gigantic bug of done sort. It freaked me out until the bug disengaged. 

As I approached New Bern I looked for the KOA campground nestled between busy US 17 and the Neuse River. I never saw it because I was busy riding on the shoulder of a divided highway. This was no less stressful than riding around DC but the change from near zero traffic country roads to high speed mayhem was a shock.

I spent some time toddling around New Bern looking for a pharmacy so that I could get some toothpaste, earplugs, and a cotton t-shirt. It’s Sunday in bible country. Not gonna happen. But the pharmacy I did find is the birthplace of Pepsi Cola. (Being nearly a descendent of the Coca Cola inventor- a very long story – I decide to leave before being accused of spying.) 


So I checked out the replica of a Swiss estate, Tryon Palace,  Straight out of the Old World. 


Part of the reason I gave up on the campground was the fact that the Nats are playing on ESPN tonight. In order to explore options I decided to take a seat at The Bruin, a craft beer place. After two beers I contacted a Warmshowers host. My last minute communication was understandably not welcome so I checked into a hotel across the river from town. The ride there was admittedly a tad wobbly but the two pick up drivers who showed no kindness as they honked their horns did not float my boat.

The room is clean. I have a view of the river. There is a restaurant within walking distance. The game starts in 2 hours. 

And I rode another 70 miles. 431.5 miles so far.

I hope to find a clean shirt before I get to Wendy’s house.  Hope your washing machine works. 

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No Way So Hey – Day 5

I never sleep well in a tent but I did much better last night. Special thanks to Michele Cleveland who recommended a better sleeping pad. I still tossed and turned but the eerie animal that sounded like a werewolf may have had something to do with it. I was also visited by a small critter scratching around my tent for food. And there were owls hooting all night. Nature is noisy. 

The day began at last night’s gas station eatery. The food so far has been greasy and disgusting so I wasn’t surprised that breakfast was more of the same.

A kindly driver ed teacher who was fueling up told me that visibility was poor so I put on my vest and hit the road. 

Marshy land and farmers fields for mikes and miles. I sang songs to myself and had conversations with my monkey mind. The terrain here rivals northern Indiana for levelness. So my legs were having no trouble at all.

I stopped at every store and bought either food or drink, fearful that I’d hit a string of closed shops. I found this sign interesting. 

I stopped I for an early lunch in Colerain. Cafe 45 was not listed on my maps but the food was cheap and tasty. At last!

The rest of the day was more pool table riding with increasing heat and humidity. A customer in the cafe told me my destination, Plymouth,  was a cute fishing town. 

After miles of farmland I climbed a bridge over the Cashie, Middle, and Roanoke Rivers. Very pretty. Then I rode into Plymouth. What a disappointment. I called a campground 30 miles further on. They were booked. 


The motels in Plymouth were either a Holiday Inn Express or two run down motels. I opted for one of the motels. No cable, no TV, no WiFi. I complained at the desk. The dude fixed the TV and cable but said I was too far from the WiFi. Then he said the WiFi comes and goes with the weather. I said lower by bill. No, the manager says WiFi is complementary and not part of the bill. 

I had checked in to the Monte Python Inn!

If you want you can leave and get a refund but you have to leave in 5 minutes. (This is actually what I was told.)

Well since the AC and the shower worked I decided to stay. I am sitting outside connecting to another room’s WiFi.

There are no restaurants in sight so my convenience store stash will have to suffice. for dinner. 

I should have known Plymouth would be a problem. This is the town funeral home. 


You can’t make this stuff up.

Well the day was nice until now. I made it 68 miles. So far that makes 361.5 miles in 5 days. Tomorrow I plan to ride to New Bern. 

No Way So Hey -Day 4

I woke up waay too early and puts around until the fog lifted. The hotel breakfast was barely edible. I hit the road intending to eat breakfast after about 15 miles but the place was closed. At 20 miles I hoped to stock up on lunch and dinner so that I could camp nearby. The place was gross. Do I ride to tomorrow’s stopping point, 75 miles away? I felt I had no choice so I started pedaling. 

The road was thick with turkey vultures – no lie! Omens R Us! 

Then I thought to call the campground to see if it had food. The answer was no but a gas station only a mile more off route has all kinds of stuff.


Sure enough. I bought 2 sammies and other assorted snacks and headed to the campground. For $14 (with the senior discount) I have a place to rest my head and recover from the hard pace of the first three days (252 miles) and eat breakfast in the morning. 
With today’s 41 1/2 miles I have 293 1/2 miles and I’m now in North Carolina.

No Way So Hey – Day 3

So Nick and Amy were at the hostel. They are from England and have embarked on an honest to god 50 states bike tour. They have 49 to go. Godspeed.


Nick and a cool Bhuddist tattoo on his calf.


I went out to dinner at Perlys, a bona fide Jewish deli. The beef hot dog was huge, the bun was beyond awesone, and the everything chips were so good I ordered a second helping. (Everything means onion, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, salt, etc. Like an everything bagel.) And they had draft beer and ale (and cider and wine and all the things). I had a lager and a red ale. Burp.

Back at the hostel a little boy named Logan was acting like a dog. He had curly brown hair and was impossibly cute. Four Japanese young women were playing pool incompetently. A Japanese guy tried mansplaining it to them. He was ineffective. 

Breakfast was free. After stuffing myself I made myself a double decker PB and J just in case. Nick, Amy, and I agreed that we must stop periodically and eat. That was my plan. 

Hostel bike parking humor

Note to Cathy Plume: Tell John I really liked the hostel. 

Our the door and past the state capital, I wandered a bit until I found the Capital Trail. It’s a paved trail that goes from Richmond to Jamestown and the ferry across the James River. 

Services were lacking so I rode about 30 miles until I came to Cul’s Courthouse Grill. It was 11 am so time for second breakfast like a good hobbit. Another club sandwich and ice water. (Lord, the beers on tap were tempting.)

On impulse I bought a big chocolate chip cookie, just in case. 

Charles City is all about the love

The trail is bordered by a two lane highway which is a bit of a buzz kill. Bandit campers, however, would have a field day. Lots of opportunities to sneak off into the woods.

At one point I spooked a very large bird of prey in the tall grass next to the trail. It burst into the air and careened away from me into the woods. Scared the crap out of me.

The trail passes several plantations which gets kind of depressing. History buffs will take forever riding the trail because there are historic markers, sometimes in clusters, from end to end. This area is thick with colonial, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War history. And President Tyler lived here. (I don’t know much about him either.)

I stopped at a store and bought some sports drink, a banana, and chewy candy. Just in case. 

I didn’t visit Jamestown, because I already went with my family years ago. (It’s well worth the time by the way.) 

I just missed a ferry and waited 20 minutes. The chat with a 60 something guy in a Miata was fun. The ride itself took about 15 minutes. The river was calm and the weather was a comfortable 79 degrees. Twas a lovely cruise.


A few hills came next, but my granny gear got the job done. 

Most of the farm fields so far had been filled with either soy beans or desicated corn stalks. Big farm machinery was chopping it down and spitting the ground up remains into trucks. 

On the south side of the James I think the soy turned to peanuts. (I am a city boy.) And I rode by field of cotton for the first time in my life. I can’t imagine what picking cotton in southern heat and humidity must have been like.

I reached my scheduled stop, a state campground, at about 2:30. I had ridden 60 miles but I had fresh legs and oodles of food and drink so I decided to push on. At Bacons Castle I didn’t see any bacon or a castle so I bought a banana and a bottle of water and forged ahead.

Cotton, peanuts, corn and level ground. It never got oppressive hot or humid and a gentle breeze seemed to come from every direction. 

The roads were narrow. Local drivers don’t get the three-foot passing rule so I had a few close encounters with big metal things. The roads were mostly chip seal so the tires on the passing vehicles made much more noise than usual.

A UPS van driver pulled up next to me. His right hand door was open.

Where’re you coming from?

D.C.

Where you going?

Key West.

Have a great trip! 

And he drove off.

I arrived arrived at the turnoff to the next campground at 85 miles near Athens town of Isle of Wight. It was about 4:30. My legs were fresh, I had consumed my sports drink but still had my PB and J and the cookie. No fear! On to Suffolk.

The next 5 miles were more of the same. I was starting to get tired so I ate the PB and J. Rebirth!

I arrived in Suffolk Va and called the campground. No tent spaces, only cabins for $70. I said ” No Way so hey” and asked the Google for motels. After some pathetic wandering I asked the Google for directions. The route took me through a poor section of town. Depressing. 

I arrived at the Super 8. It’s not posh but it’s cheap and the room isn’t half bad. 

103 miles. Whoa. 

As I typed this my legs have been cramping. Could be an interesting night.

I thought I messed up my day by day plan but it was just the fatigue of the end of the day getting to my head. I am now about 1/2 day ahead of schedule. 

My maps indicate that there are few services after 30 miles tomorrow. So I may be doing about 90 miles. 

Either way I’m scheduled to enter North Carolina tomorrow. Woot!

No Way So Hey – Day 2 

After 88 1/2 miles yesterday I was up for an easy day. How’s 60 1/2 miles grab ya? 

I woke before the sun and waited for the rain to stop as it pitter pattered on the roof of my cabin. 

If I went and the rain returned in the form of mist with a dash of fog. I wore my reflective vest (thanks Bike Arlington) for visibility. 

My day began with a hill but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. In fact none of the hills today were all that difficult.

Unlike yesterday’s suburban bike hell that is officially called Prince William County, today’s ride was mostly rural. I was counting on breakfast at a country store about 20 miles into the ride. It was closed. Out came the granola bars. 

I ate six. Not exactly fine dining but it kept me from bonking.

I stopped to help a turtle cross the road. I thought of Ultrarunnergirl who did the same on a ride we did a couple of years ago. 


40 miles of farms and field led me to Ashland. Along the way my route US Bike Route 1 overlapped with the transAmerica bike route, US Bike Route 76.  If I took a right I could go to the Pacific! That’s for next year.

A major east coast rail line goes right through the center of town. The Iron Horse was the first eatery I saw. Good enough. I had a club sandwich. It was big as was the side of slaw. I was tempted by the beers on tap but Diet Coke won the day. The waiter kept me watered too. And he filled my bottles with ice water. 

The rest of the ride was straight into Richmond. I could tell when I saw the statue of A.P. Hill in the middle of the road. He was facing south. I rode up and down Monument Street and saw the ludicrously immense statues of Robert E. Lee on Traveller and J.E.B. Stuart with a dramatic cape. 

After seeing the capital building and rolling through the location shooting for Homeland, I headed to the hostel. It’s clean and cheapish. They have free laundry and breakfast and in a few minutes popcorn and evening entertainment. I am heading out for  vittles and grog. 

Once I got cleaned up I reviewed my route for the next few days. I managed to overlook about 70 miles of my trip so I may be getting to most of North Carolina a day later than planned. 

Oops.

No Way So Hey Day One

After goodbyes to the women of the house, I rolled out with the usual pretour jitters. They went away after about 3 miles.  

The Mule was tracking like it was on a monorail. We even climbed some early hills with crying. 

I followed my maps like a dummy and went down a long hill to the wrong side of the Occoquan River. So I climbed back out l, found the correct way and descended. Then I climbed the bitch of a hill heading south. 

Dang.

I was expecting many more hills built my route through Prince William County around Quantico was surprisingly level. 

And the weather was superb.

This can’t be happening. I’m on a bike tour!

A brief visit to Fauquier (say it right!) County and I was in Stafford County. The rollers began. 

After exhausting my legs on the 50 States Ride, I decided to check my ego at the base of each hill and use my super low granny gear. Bueno!

I stopped to flip my map and was passed by three men of about my age on a bike tour of their own. I caught them soon because one of them had a flat. A few miles later at a general store I encountered two more south bound bike tourists. It turns out they are on an official Adventure Cycling tour from Bar Harbor to Key West. The three men I had just passed were part of their tour group. We chatted as we snarfed all the things. The woman on the group bought me ice cream. I love her.


I parted alone and cruised along the increasingly hilly roads into Fredericksburg. I stopped for more ice cream because it was RIGHT THERE! 


I skipped the battlefield since I had already been there. Just watch the opening of the movie Cold Comfort. It wasn’t pretty. 

Hills and more hills led me to a KOA campground south of town. (The tour group camped at a church.) I rented a cabin because it is supposed to rain and because I wanted to. It has electric but no water. Roughing it!


With 88 miles behind me I face 60 miles of hills to Richmond tomorrow. 

Further.

Come On Baby Ride South

After much gnashing of teeth over the last several days, I was fully intending to switch my bike tour plan to do a big loop up north. DC-Pittsburgh-Erie-Niagara Falls-Burlington (or Albany)-DC. I even bought maps for the Pittsburgh to Erie section.

And I checked the weather. Let’s just say it’s a tad brisker up yonder. And I noticed that the track of Irma is toward Saint Louis. I figured I’d have a better chance of meeting up with Irma’s remnants by riding to Erie than if I followed my original plan. And with hurricane Jose marking time near the Bahamas, it looks like I will get good weather for a least a week if I head south. So south it will be.

I spent the day packing and checking out my bike. My newly installed rear tire had a hop in it. I deflated it and re-seated it. Hopefully that will take care of things. There is a possibility that the rim is messed up. If so, I will literally hear about it when the tire blows off the rim.

Once I re-seated the tire, I loaded up the beast. It’s a lot of stuff. Tent. Sleeping pad. Sleeping sack (a thin sleeping bag), sleeping bag liner, clothes, rain gear. Tools and tubes and a spare tire. Food (granola bars out the wazoo), chargers and batteries and other electronic junk), toiletries and other assorting stuff. Somehow I neglected to find a proper paper journal for recording memorable events. I’ll pick one up tomorrow en route.

That’s right. I leave tomorrow as originally planned. I have no idea how far south I will get. Maybe in 3 weeks the east coast of Florida will be ridable. Maybe not. What’s a bike tour without a little adventure? The worst that could happen is I get to a point like Jacksonville or St. Augustine and have to turn around.

So today I test road the fully loaded Mule. It rides better with a load than without. Don’t ask me how this happens. Also, I installed lower gearing on the beast over a decade ago. I hope they are up to the challenge of the hills over the first four days.

TheMuleLoaded

As is usually the case, I have butterflies in my stomach. They seem to go away after a day.

My tour will be called the No Way So Hey Tour. This is because when my son was a toddler that’s how he said No Way Jose.

 

 

 

Fifty States with a Six Pack

For the last couple of days, I had nothing in my legs. I’d pedal and it felt like my legs were just lifeless. This is what happens when I ride 6 days in a row for 210 miles. So did I take the day off before the hilly, 62-mile 50-States Ride? Surely you jest.

For the uninitiated, the 50 States Ride is the main event for the Washington Area Bicyclists Association. It is held annually for at least the last 12 years (I did it in 2006 and it had been held before that). The route traverses the entire city as bicyclists ride on the streets named for the 50 States. After about 20 miles of warm up, the ride also appears to seek out every hill in town.

The day broke with clouds and a beautiful sunrise over the Lincoln Memorial as I drove to the start. I arrived at around 7 a.m. just in time to see Brian (@sharrowsdc a.k.a Gear Prudence) heading out alone. I begged him to stay and ride with me to no avail. Celebrities don’t ride with the little people.

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I took my disappointment to the start where I somehow managed to put together a fantastic team of riders:

  • Rachel (Don’t call me “Bob): Rachel and I met several years ago at Friday Coffee Club a few years ago. When she worked in a DC bike shop, she sold me my bike du jour, a Surly Cross Check. I have sung her praises before in this blog more than once. Despite our cycling connection, we had never ridden together.
  • Miss Emilia: Emilia was one of the five rookies that I rode with on the 2014 50-States Ride.  With her constant smile, deep voice, and Venezuelan accent, she lifted my spirits during the heat and rain and hills three years ago. As I noted recently, she is a much stronger rider now, pedaling slowly but powerfully.
  • Scuba Michael: Michael, another Friday Coffee Clubber, was one of the co-leaders of our 2015. Nothing bothers Michael, probably because he literally swims with sharks. Seriously. He’s a powerful rider who takes mercy on old dogs like me.
  • One-bag Kevin: Kevin moved to DC last fall. We met at Friday Coffee Club a few weeks ago. He rode the ride with one Ortlieb roll top pannier filled with an assortment of foods including a jar filled with mystery glop.
  • VIP Steve: Without Brian’s celebrity we needed to upgrade our group’s status. Steve payed the big bucks for VIP status. He wore the VIP 50 States cycling cap, which cost about $1 per state. Steve is a man with sartorial priorities and strong cycling legs.
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Lesly, a course marshal and the voice of #bikedc, with Rachel and Emilia at the start

We rolled away around 7: 50, closely following Kitty’s Club. Kitty (real name Grace) was marshaling the ride and had a bunch of friends in tow. Big groups move a bit more slowly than our six pack.  The temperature was in the high 50Fs with a gentle breeze. Ahhh.

The downtown section of the ride was changed this year but we were not fooled one bit. Wyoming, California, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and New York were conquered without a fight. Once I we hit New Jersey, the next few states fell like dominos without more than a glance on the 12-page cue sheet. Louisiana, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington. A police road block put Virginia in jeopardy but we picked up the 600 block without a bit of trouble.

Once clear of downtown we cruised down to Hains Point on Ohio Drive. The breeze off the river was refreshing. We negotiated the construction zone at the Wharf project on Maine Avenue. A long stretch down M Street led us eventually to an alley that plopped us on the sidewalk across the Sousa Bridge on Pennsylvania Avenue across the Anacostia River. The sidewalk leads to a shaded sidepath down to the Anacostia Drive along the river. The shade obscured some truly nasty tree roots. Nobody crashed and good dental work kept our fillings intact.

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Emilia, Todo Sonrisas, in East Potomac Park before the Hills

My dead legs were already in evidence on the flat terrain. Now, after a rest stop break, we headed into the dreaded hills of Anacostia. These are overrated. There are many more and harder hills yet to come. Bwa ha ha. My dead legs didn’t much care. Dead is dead.

Before starting the climb, I took a wrong turn. Oops. We quickly corrected the mistake and headed up. A fortuitous red light on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard broke up the first long climb. No problem. We descended to Mississippi and enjoyed the flat cruise alongside parkland. All good things must come to a hill. Up Stanton Road we rode. Bye y’all. The five left me in their wake and I huffed and puffed all the way to Alabama. I rejoined the group at a red light and we proceeded to climb further to the eastern top of the city. This climb (and the many others to follow) were MUCH easier in the pleasant temperatures and low humidity of this early September day.

We rode down Pennsylvania to Texas, an ironically small side street. After doing a quick circuit through a residential neighborhood we made our way along peaceful, downhill Fort Davis Drive to Massachusetts. The descent back toward the Anacostia River is one of the high lights of the ride. The sensible members of our group rode cautiously. It was fun passing them. Yee haw!

The downhill ends at a dead stop at a traffic circle. Around the circle and along Minnesota Avenue which led to another traffic circle. And lots of traffic.

Soon we were back on Anacostia Drive along the river. The riders in front of us were making a wrong turn en masse onto the south side of Pennsylvania Avenue. Having made this mistake a couple of times, I yelled “No turn. Go Straight.” The clipped in riders started wobbling and falling. Temporary chaos. No fatalities. On to the turn to the north side of Pennsylvania which took us back across the river to Kentucky and South Carolina on the east side of Capitol Hill.  We missed the turn to the lunch stop (the turn wasn’t indicated on the cue sheet) but recovered after a little tour of tree lined streets and the lovely townhouses.

After a burrito and some other munching and libations, we headed off on North Carolina into Hill East. Tennessee led to Oklahoma. Sooner (sorry) we were headed back across NoMa to pick up Florida and West Virginia in the Trinidad neighborhood past Gallaudet University. At Mount Olivet Street, Michael peeled off for home. His shoulder gave us 36 good miles and we were left to fend for ourselves as a quintet.

Mt. Olivet goes UP. I was dropped again. I caught and passed the group on the 9th Street Bridge over the railroad yard into Brentwood. I led the group up another hill and over to Montana Avenue. We rolled downhill to South Dakota, with its heavy traffic. I hate this road. It just feels unsafe. We escaped intact and turned left onto Taylor Street. This led us to Michigan which is nearly as awful as South Dakota.

We crossed back over the railroad tracks. This time I took the sidewalk and the rest of the group took the road. Dropped again. Dead legs.

After a brief reprieve near Catholic University, we climbed up Hawaii Avenue to more ups near the Soldiers Home Cemetery. We rode downhill to Upshur. This is a slight change from prior years so we missed the ensuing turn onto Illinois Avenue. No worries, we back tracked into Grant Circle and picked up the route on Illinois headed northwest. To Kansas back toward the southwest. The turn on Iowa sent us northward to Arkansas and a northwest heading. A turn on Georgia took us north so that we could turn left and left again to Colorado headed northwest to Missouri to the southeast. And you wonder why people get lost!

After some side streets we headed back to the northwest on North Dakota. We nearly missed a turn at 3rd Avenue (my bad) but recovered again. Soon we were in the Tacoma Park neighborhood and arrived at the fourth pit stop at the home of Crazy Rando Mike and Lisa. (Lisa’s not crazy, just Mike.)

After a chat with our cheerful hosts, we headed north to Alaska. Works for me. Alaska head down to 16th Street then onto Sherill Drive into Rock Creek Park. If there were fewer cyclists and an open gate into the park this would an awesome descent. Even so, it was a blast. It led to the closed Bingham Road. We rode on a hilly, windy sidepath to another hilly, windy side path along Oregon Avenue. The terrain kept us from reading our cue sheet and we rode past our turn off the path. When we realized the mistake we walked through some weeds to Oregon and backtracked. Then it was up Beech on my legs which were starting to show signs of rigor mortis. Needless to say I got dropped again.

Utah, Nevada, and Nebraska were conquered without a fuss.

I rejoined the group and Emilia told me that she was having trouble getting her lowest gears to work. She was kicking my ass on the hills and spotting me three gears. She really is La Terminadora!

Up we rode on Fessenden Street. Actually up they rode as I was dropped again. Hello morgue, you have my legs.

After a brief rest stop we climbed Wisconsin to Tenleytown where we picked up Nebraska past American University, Rachel’s alma mater. Nebraska becomes Loughboro and descends. Arizona is a left hand turn at a stop sign. I confess I blew through the sign. In front of a DC patrol car. Oops. The police officer must have sensed my legger mortis and did not pursue me for arrest and incarceration. The other four in our group actually stopped. I feel so ashamed.

So, once they caught up to me (I waited), I missed the turn to go back up the hill on Ashby. I believe my legs had affected my brain. After a reprieve on 49th Street, we faced the climb up Garfield, the dreaded worstest hill on the entire ride. Some sicko added this beast to the course in 2014. Emilia, not knowing it was coming, was not amused. A detour put us instead on Dexter.  My faint hope of topographical forbearance from Mr. Dexter was dashed as soon as I turned and looked UP. DANG!

Up went Steve. Up went Kevin. Up went Rachel. Up – without her lowest gears no less – went Emilia. I wanted to cry. Not. Gonna. Walk. Dammit. And I didn’t.

Over the top to a series of rolling hills. New Mexico was conquered without a shot. Once we reached Idaho the cue sheet went away. We rode crested Cathedral Heights and cruised down to busy Connecticut Avenue. With Connecticut traffic stopped at a red light, we took the left lane and made it to the left hand turn onto Calvert Street. And the triumphant final half mile to the after party at Mellow Mushroom in Adams Morgan.

When we walked into the bar, I raised my hands and yelled “NINE!!!!” Then Emilia posed for a recreation of her 2014 t-shirt photo,

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Missing gears. No problem! Way to go Emilia. Let’s do it again.

Next, Rachel took a shot of the two of is together. Note how I have helmet hair and she doesn’t. Dos Sonrisas.

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I can’t imagine doing this ride without my lowest gears. Emilia didn’t complain. She just found a way and buried me on every hill. Awesome.

After a big and well deserved un fuerte abrazo, Emilia hit the road and the remaining gang of four headed to the roof for pizza and drinks. Thanks for the pie, Rachel. How good to finally ride with you.

Once the party broke up, I drove up town to Petworth to see Alex Baca, my favorite bike ride stalker. We met because she spotted a SharrowsDC pin on my saddle bag on a bike ride in Baltimore. Brian sold the pins to raise money for WABA. She just celebrated a birthday and is still recovering from a nasty crash that resulted in a broken jaw. I am happy to report she looks great and seems in good spirits. And, to bring the day full circle, Brian and his wife Nikki (married all of three weeks) walked in. Brian, a solo rookie, finished the ride too.

Many, many thanks to:

  • the volunteers and staff of WABA, many of whom got up well before sunrise to run the pit stops, take our picture, and keep us safe
  • Laura Miller who was the WABA staffer in charge. Not a bad debut! You can handle the WABA weather machine any time you want
  • the course marshals, particularly Kitty who’s group we road with on and off throughout the day
  • the  folks at District Taco and Mellow Mushroom who fueled our two-wheeled foolishness
  • all the other sponsors including Signal Financial, the lead sponsor of the ride.
  • the people of DC, who once again supported us with smiles and shouts, all day. What a change from 2006 when drivers cussed me out!

And big, big thanks to my team six pack. You guys were so much fun to ride with.

 

Eve Teasing

In India, Eve teasing is what we call catcalling or public sexual harassment. We do not approve of Eve teasing here at the Rootchopper Institute. We do however get teased by the eve of big events and tonight is one of those.

Tomorrow is the 50 States Ride. It sold out a few hours ago. There is a new rule this year: if you don’t ride the whole thing you can go to the after party but you have to give your beer and pizza to bona fide finishers.  (Me.)

I rode to Friday Coffee Club at dawn. The temperature was hovering just above WTF. (It was 51 degrees F when I hit the road.) Now that the sun has moved a bit further south, I can take a sunrise picture at Dyke Marsh. So I did.

Image may contain: 1 person, riding a bicycle, standing, bicycle, sky and outdoor

Former co-worker Kelly saw this picture and thought I had gone back to work. No. Not gonna happen, Kelly.

Coffee Club was hopping. I signed up Kevin to join Team Rootchopper. Scuba Michael may also be joining us if his ear infection clears up. “Us” so far is Emilia and me. So if you’re coming and riding, we’ll be at the start around 7 am looking for other victims.

It warmed up for the ride home so the jacket came off. The weather has been glorious around here, such a start contrast to the news from the Caribbean. Hang in there Renee and John and Wendy. Based on today’s forecast (a Category 4 or 5 storm running right up the spine of the Florida peninsula), the bike tour to Key West isn’t going to happen. I still have fingers crossed but the Plan B (DC to Erie to Burlington VT or Albany to DC) tour is beginning to look like a real possibility. I have to be mindful that the point of this tour is to do my longest tour and see how my body reacts in preparation for a ride to the west coast next year.

This eve is also the eve of Clinchmas, the day the Washington Nationals clinch the National League East and a spot in the playoffs. The magic number is 4, so the clinch could happen tomorrow.

As soon as the Nats game is over, I’m going to sleep.

Volunteering for Ducks

It rained all day here in DC. I knew I was volunteering at WABA tonight so I didn’t bother to go out in the gloom and wet. At around 4 pm I headed to DC in rain jacket and pants. It was only about 62 degrees. i warmed up in a half mile. The ride was not half bad except for the 10 minute wait for a school bus to unload grade school kids in a downpour. I was okay with them taking their time but some of the kids went back on the bus to fetch things they had forgot. Must not kill.

I took the 15th Street cycletrack about 10 blocks north. The cycletrack is supposed to encourage bike commuters but I find it really unnerving especially when visibility is impaired by rain. I lived. End of story.

I arrived at WABA world headquarters. Volunteers were already at work at 6 pm. We were helping WABA staff get ready for Saturday’s 50 States Ride. (As of this writing the ride is not sold out but it probably will in the next day or two.)  I spent the first 90 minutes moving stuff out of storage to staging areas for the pit stops. Tables, banners, food, pens, zip ties, id labels for people staffing the stops, scissors, tape, binder clips, tents, a cooler, powdered sports drink, etc. When that had run its course, I helped put together the 12-page cue sheets. The 50 States Ride route is notoriously complicated. It’s part of the fun.

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Volunteers Hard at Work

If you are doing the ride, you’ll be stopping a lot. Don’t get frustrated. Go Just with it. Say hello to the people at the stop light or stop sign. The secret sauce of the 50 States Ride is that it is a social event that even introverts will love.

After a couple of hours, the evening’s activities came to a close. Cue sheets were still being run off the office printer. I suspect someone will be feeding it paper for another hour or so.

I rode home in the rain. It was dark. I was concerned about visibility so I wore a bright yellow belt that lit up from within.  I also had my Stella headlight blazing away. With raindrops on my glasses I couldn’t see very well but drivers would have to be blind not to see me. My wet glasses made it extremely hard to see when I was facing headlights. So I rode very slowly. The ride home took nearly 2 hours.