Friday, September 4, 2009

Monday August 31

With only two days of pedaling ahead of us, it’s about time that the weather became our ally. The humidity has totally abated and with it the heat. Today it only hit the low 70’s. Kind of like western Washington. With an ‘easy’ ride of around 50 miles ahead of us, we took our time leaving town. The firehouse was a logical place to waste some time. A different crew was in this morning so the faces were all new. Didn’t matter. Everyone was friendly but not extremely curious. We were just more cyclists passing thru. We finished off our half gallon of OJ that was purchased the night before and with it some oatmeal cookies and granola bars and poptarts. Since there was no coffee to be found in the place, we decided to visit the Mineral Café on the way out of town.

It was 9:00 when we pulled away from the volutneer fire station. At 9:05 we pulled up to the café. As soon as a foot was stepped into the establishment it became apparent that this was another of too many restaurants that have cigarrettes constantly burning. But the need for caffeine overwhelmed Donna’s reluctance to nicotine so we entered nonetheless. The stares we drew were not unlike those we’ve observedfrom a hundred other places across this country. Perhaps it is the fact that Lewis too is dressed in Spandex. More likely it is just a conditioned response that the locals have no contol over. When someone enters wearing cycling shorts and a brightly colored jersey, the have to stare. They have no choice! But as I’ve said, this was no different than countless other times. I’m only being thorough as my time to journal is quickly drawing to a close.

We each had a different version of the special which included 2 eggs, some bacon, some potatoes, and some bread. Coffee was included as was the cigarette smoke! All this for only $4. After we’d cleaned our plates, we were ready for the road. From this point on, we would be leaving the safety and security of the adventure cycling maps and following a route that Google prepared. We punched in Google maps and requested a route for walking. This would keep us off the interstates. With less than 100 miles between Mineral and DC, what’s the worst that could happen? We’d find out shortly.

Initially the route was very similar to the roads we’ve been riding in Virginia. But after the first 20 miles were behind us, we hit route 1. This four lane highway occasionally had a shoulder we could ride on but that was the exception. The traffic volume was initially on the light side but before the day was done, we were in Rush Hour traffic. Being this close to our nations capital means that urban development is now the rule and the undeveloped the exception. It would be like riding your bike down Black Lake Blvd in west Olympia, or Fashion Square Blvd in Saginaw. Most of the drivers gave us a break and moved into the next lane if they could. But there were several instances when a guy (it was always a guy) chose to stay in the outside lane without budging even though the lane next to him was unoccupied. There were times when the only car within 50 yards of us would be the ‘guy’ who was in the outside lane, doing 50 miles an hour while passing us leaving just inches between his vehicle and our handlebars. There are certainly some ignorant ‘guys’ out there. We persevered as we have done throughout and by 4:00 when the traffic was becoming unbearable, we got off the road and pulled into a Best Western. A total of 54 miles having been ridden. Before going in to check out the prices I discovered that a Walmart was only a half mile away. We had previously talked about camping at Walmart and this would definitely be our last chance. But when given the opportunity to choose between Walmart and the Best Western, the majority rules and Best Western won out. This room was $100 but reportedly had a “really good” continental breakfast. We’d see in the morning. In the meantime, some wifi was in order as we needed to make contact with our hosts in DC.

We now have 2 different Warm Showers hosts who have agreed to take us in while we wrap up our vacation with multiple days of sightseeing in the DC area. Our first host, Ted, has only known of our existence for 3 days. We’ll be spending our first 2 nights at his place. The next host, Anne and Carl, have been on board this adventure for the previous 9 months. I contacted them via Warm Showers, back in January.

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