Lost in Shame

I hadn’t been awake but a couple of hours when the first food shaming comment hit my Facebook page. Eating turkey is morally bankrupt, utterly unnecessary. and an offense to the universe. Okay. I’ll just go for the veggies and other stuff. Then the next bit of shaming came in. Sweet potatoes are dug up by hand by migrant workers. This is back breaking and inhumane.

Pass the beer please.

So, I punted on the shame. I had some turkey and piles of non-animal foods. No sweet potatoes though. It wasn’t shame. I hate them.

Today, I took the day off from work.  It is apparently the thing these days to shame people into not shopping on what has come to be called Black Friday. REI closed its doors and urged its customers to go do something outdoors instead. They even created a hashtag for it: #optoutside

I could tell you that I chose to give in to this shaming because, after having eaten the turkey, I was riddled with guilt. The truth is I hate shopping even more than I hate the taste of sweet potatoes. To me, one day of shopping is like eating corn beef and cabbage every day for a month. And I don’t need REI or any other store to persuade me to go for a ride or a hike. So I went all in on the #optoutside thing today.

I waited until 11 to get moving. Mostly because the temperatures here in the DC area were rising through the morning. At 11 they were rising through the 50s. Time to boogay.

I decided to drive to Indian Head Maryland and ride their rail trail. I also took the cue sheet and map from a book of rides I have. The plan was to ride the trail one way then do the book’s ride that covers some of the same route as the Southern Maryland metric century.  Just by eyeballing the thing, I figured I’d be doing about 40 miles of riding.

Even though I’ve done the rail trail many times, I had trouble finding it. I eventually gave up and took the roads from the century ride. After about five miles this route intersected with the trail and I switched over to Plan A.

The trail was newly paved. Each time I do it some additional improvements have been made. It’s getting better every year. This time of year there is not much to see along the trail. A damned up creek forms a trailside pond. I spotted two bald eagles in trees along the edge of the pond.

The trail ends in a parking lot that continues on to scary US 301. This is a high speed, four lane, divided highway. I think driving it is unsafe so you can guess how I feel about riding it.

I backtracked along the trail and hung a left on Middletown Road, a lightly traveled two lane country road. Weee!

From the book map, I could tell that Middletown would soon meet up with the route in the book. And sure enough it did. At US 301. All I had to do was ride on this highway of death for 1/2 mile. I did and it was pretty scary.

The book route is a figure eight. I had already ridden half of one loop of the 8 now I was looking to doing the other loop before returning to finish the first loop. I noticed that this meant that I’d be going against the directional arrows in the book. No big deal…..

The route took me into La Plata Maryland. La Plata is the county seat of Charles County Maryland. Charles County used to be all about tobacco growing and casinos. Both are long gone, replaced by a bed room community. It is a distant suburb of DC and Annapolis.

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It dawned on me for the very first time that this town bears the same name as the hometown of an Argentinian friend of mine. Our La Plata has cinderblock evangelican churches. Their La Plata has a gothic cathedral. Our La Plata has a horrifically scary highway blasting through town. Their La Plata has tree lined boulevards that radiate from a central square. (Their street grid actually looks a lot like DC with boulevards cutting diagonally across a a grid of streets.) Our La Plata has the world’s best barbeque. (It said so on a sign so it must be true.) Theirs has world class padbol. (Don’t ask.) Our La Plata is a tornado magnet. Theirs not so much. Both, as it turns out, have Thai massage therapists. Whoda thunk?

I passed through our La Plata and kept going. Then I found out that going against the arrows was not such a good idea. The route took me back to 301. To stay on course, I was supposed to ride the shoulder of 301 against the traffic for 1/2 mile.

Not gonna happen.

So I crossed 301 and continued on the country road opposite in hopes it would re-connect me with the route. After 1 1/2 miles I came to a fancy gate. Very big and impressive looking. With keyed entry. The road continued through the gate and wound up a hill to a massive house overlooking acres and acres of carefully groomed land. Next to the gate was a sign that said “Private Road.”

Not gonna happen.

Frustrated, I turned around and decided to head back to La Plata. After back tracking halfway to town I decided to look at the map. Sure enough I could actually get back of course by riding a big circle to the east. It looked like about a five mile detour on country roads. Onward!

It actually turned out to be a mighty nice ride. There was one big downhill to a creek crossing and an uphill on the other side but the views were pretty and the traffic was light.  Then, about a mile from re-crossing 301 I came upon Rich Hill. Straight up. No messing around. I do believe they should change its name to Bitch Hill.

Finally, I re-crossed 301 and was back on course. Chapel Point Road is another lovely two-lane country road that meanders by farms and fields. At the top of a hill is a beautiful old church. It’s bell was ringing the three o’clock hour. Next to the church was a graveyard. Just beyond, the hill fell away and the Port Tobacco River could be seen down below bathed in the late November sun. I really should have taken a picture but I was worried that any more delays might leave me out in the dark. I didn’t bring any lights so this was a pretty serious consideration.

The road followed the drop off of the hill and wound up, down, and around small hills that overlooked the river. As the road nears Port Tobacco, it passes dilapidated tobacco barns. Then the remnants of the original settlement from colonial days can still be seen. The US Census says the population is 13. Quaint.

On the far side of the town of Port Tobacco is Rose Hill. I remember Rose Hill from all the times I rode the Southern Maryland Century. It winds up and gets steeper near the top.  What makes it hard is heat and humidity. There was little of either today so I managed to climb the hill without too much difficulty. Perhaps my ease in climbing was relative. After making it up Bitch Hill, Rose Hill wasn’t so bad.

The rest of the ride was rolling hills on country roads. I was worried that I’d get caught in the dark with temperatures falling so I kept plugging along. It was something of a relief to get back to the trail. The trail goes gradually uphill for 5 miles to Indian Head. This sort of false flat can really be discouraging, especially after you’ve already ridden farther than you intended.

Pedal. Pedal.

Soon I was riding under the archway at the trail head. I made it back to my car with plenty of daylight left and 53.5 miles on my odometer. I could feel the air cooling as I prepped for the drive home.

So there is no shame in La Plata. What would you expect for a town that lived off of tobacco and gambling?

Time for some leftovers. My mama always said that it’s a shame to waste food.

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Lost in Shame

  1. Great report! Still jealous of ANY ride, but this was good. Thanks for posting it. I can’t wait to ride in your neck of the woods. We had a high of 29 today.

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