Category 9. Fun Stuff

Day Nineteen

I was (clearly) wrong when I wrote yesterday that I wouldn’t write about today. I’m too eager to capture the memories of these days before they fade away to not record them. You probably knew that.

James made a terrific suggestion at breakfast this morning: that we not only do a loop through the Maryland side of the Delmarva peninsula today, but also get a jump on tomorrow’s one-way ride to (his family’s home in) Philadelphia by doing an extra 20 mile northbound leg after the southbound loop. That way we’ll have more time to catch up with his parents, do much-needed laundry and meet the friend, Dom, who intends to do Friday’s complex ride/ferry/ride to Westchester County, NY with me, when he arrives by train at 30th Street Station...

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Day Eighteen

Today’s 71 mile ride took me first from Washington’s eastern suburbs to Annapolis, then from Kent Island, just over the Bay Bridge, north along the Delmarva Peninsula’s western coastline (a.k.a., the Chesapeake’s Eastern Shore) to Chestertown.

I was feeling great when we set out this morning. The first half of the 30 mile segment to Annapolis was on big, anonymous roads, but I had a wide shoulder and almost all the traffic was heading the other way – toward D.C. I spun along merrily at a nice clip, not thinking about very much other than the joy of movement.

As I got closer to Annapolis, the scenery came into my conscious view – quieter roads, more elegant homes and a new subdivision (with a sign announcing ‘New homes from the 700s’)...

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Day Seventeen

This morning at breakfast, James and I decided that rather than aim straight for Washington, DC, I would ride ENE toward a crossing of the Potomac at Dahlgren, then after crossing the Dahlgren bridge in the van, do a second segment heading toward the District through Maryland. This route was expected to have much less traffic than a straight shot from Fredericksburg NNE through suburban Virginia, and to set the stage for tomorrow’s (also split) rides to Annapolis and then on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake.

Our luck with the weather was expected to hold, with temperatures slated to rise steadily from 53 at 8:00 AM into the 60s, and the chance of rain negligible, so I decided to skip leg coverings and wore only a light vest over my shirt. In that I chose poorly...

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Day Sixteen

Our luck continues to be absurdly good. No rainouts, generally fair winds and days like today, when we had to ride on some roads that under normal circumstances would have been expected to be awful, but were great.

The first twenty miles of today’s 88.5 mile ride from Petersburg, VA to Fredericksburg, VA were on Route One. In that section, the east coast’s oldest thoroughfare is a straight, four lane behemoth, mostly without a shoulder, on which drivers are entitled to go 55 mph and often go much faster...

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Day Fifteen

Today’s ride was easy. I covered 77.5 miles, heading more or less due north to Petersburg, VIrginia, at a relaxed pace in near-perfect weather. The NNW wind hindered me from time to time, particularly when my course veered temporarily in its direction, but given the limited distance I knew I had to ride, the absence of any time pressure and the bracingly fresh, cool air I was breathing, I didn’t let those slowdowns get on my nerves.

The first surprise along the way was passing through a very New England-y looking suburb just outside Roanoke Rapids, N.C. Unlike the more uniform, newer subdivisions that we had been seeing, this one had substantial, perfectly-kept homes of many styles and vintages on lots of various sizes...

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Day Fourteen

Before I set out on my ride from Los Angeles to the Connecticut shoreline five years ago, I decided that a custom-made steel bike would provide me with the most comfortable, and therefore most sustainable, ride. Sure, a steel frame would weigh a couple of pounds more than carbon fiber or aluminum, but it would absorb road vibrations that would otherwise take quite a tollI on such a journey, and it’s not like the added weight would mean much to a man in late middle age who wasn’t trying to set any land speed records.

I asked Michael Barry, a friend, an ex-pro cyclist, a second generation bike maker and a fine writer (seriously: read Shadows on the Road if you want the true, sad story about the pro cycling doping scandals, lyrically presented) to make me two such bikes (in case I ha...

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Day Thirteen

Today we headed off at an angle to avoid the more crowded roads we would’ve expected to find had we gone due north to Fayetteville and eventually Raleigh. We ended the day in Goldsboro, NC, 104 miles NE from the day’s start in Lumberton.

In some respects the countryside I was riding through was indistinguishable from yesterday’s. I could’ve taken pictures that looked just the same. The feel of the ride was quite different, though. For one thing, I was riding straight into a fairly strong headwind all day long – so while the roads ahead might have looked the same in a photograph, today they felt a great deal less welcoming...

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Day Twelve

As you may recall, James and I were stunned by the stylishness of the hotel we stayed in last night in what we had expected would be a wholly nondescript small town in South Carolina. Our amazement continued when we went out to dinner at a nice restaurant and walked past an art gallery featuring serious-looking modern art, then again this morning when we found a fabulous breakfast place nearby. So befuddled was I about the town’s unexpected signs of wealth that I asked our server at breakfast if she knew what lay behind the town’s obvious affluence. A very successful company? A government operation? Tourism? She said she didn’t know.

As I prepared to ride after breakfast, James googled the town and found the answer...

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Day Eleven

Over breakfast this morning, James and I decided that today we would head NNE and inland rather than ENE toward Myrtle Beach and a possible subsequent route along the Outer Banks. The immediate impetus for this decision was the realization that the coastal route would have meant spending virtually all day today on a crowded, fast-moving Route 17; the deeper reason was that both of us felt that we had seen enough coastal resort communities over the last ten days and that it was time for a change.

James drove me to North Charleston – I didn’t think it necessary to essentially re-trace Ken’s and my path into the city yesterday, and skipping all that meant I avoided miles of stop and go city traffic. From North Charleston, I rode 87 miles to Lake City, South Carolina, where we are now...

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Days Nine and Ten

As advertised, yesterday (Sunday) Ken, James and I had a rest day in Savannah, which none of us had previously seen. James and I wandered the old city center during the morning while Ken was tied up with business, and I did the same during the afternoon, solo, searching unsuccessfully for a nice I-left-you-with-my-puppy present for the Beloved Spouse. I’ll have to try again in another place.

I found the older center city sections of Savannah to be quite beautiful. Rather than explaining why, I am attaching some pictures I took at the bottom of this post. Most were taken in the little pocket parks that appear every other block on the main streets; the last one looks down one of the residential streets. Glad we tarried there.

Late yesterday afternoon Ken spent some time showing Jame...

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