After drinking with Steven the previous night I woke up at 8.30am and found myself on the sofa in front of the TV, fully clothed, with a faint odour of whiskey . The hoboness has begun – but I’m sure my Dad will attest that this was a regular occurance when he came home at 6am from work. I had a quick shower and got all my stuff ready to go, at which point it was 9:15 and I crawled out of the basement to meet Jeff.
Having now been at his house for 2 nights, this was actually the first time we’d properly spoken to each other. We chatted about the trip and talked of the tours he’s been on and wanted to do in the future. He then very kindly rustled me up some scrambled eggs and toast and wished me good luck.
As I quickly ran out of clean clothes, it was time to don the cycling shirt which was signed by the Outlaws softball squad. I wasn’t planning on wearing it for a little while longer because it’s a little tight fitting but it was the least stinky top and had to suffice.
I soon realised my mistake in wearing this as I was glared at at every rest stop I took; be it in McDonalds, 7Eleven or on the pavement. It did generate conversation a few times though which was also nice. As a side note, Americans call the road the pavement and the pavement the sidewalk. Slightly confusing to begin with but I’ve been guilty of turning slightly American and used their terminology on a couple of occasions.
Todays route consisted of the highway for a couple of hours, navigating through Baltimore for a couple of hours and the rest of the way along country roads and trails.
The highways were fine, and slightly downhill so weren’t too taxing on the thighs, this was thanks to Jeff modifying the route Google suggested, which would’ve consisted of more rolling hills to meet the highway. Jeff’s route added an extra mile but was definitely worth it.
I rode into Baltimore and proceeded to get lost straight away. That was until the help of a very nice security guard who showed me which direction to head. I got back on track and 5 minutes later, was lost again trying to find a trail. After going full circle and cycling an extra 2 miles I figured out where I was going wrong and carried on again.
I was still on track when I bumped into Bob and Lorna who were on a tandem bike. Lovely people who decided to add a few miles to their ride and cycle with me. We chatted and said our farewells and I ploughed on.
Now I was out of the city and it was time to hit the rolling hills of the countryside. I hate these types of hills. You put a good 5 minutes effort pushing up them, get 15 seconds of enjoyment coasting down them – and repeat umpteen times. It gets demoralising after the fifth time.
There are large collections of shops with great frequency along common routes, and I cycled past another row of them without batting an eyelid. That was until out of the corner of my eye I saw REI. This is a massive outoor shop which has a huge cycling section, including… bike GPS’s! I got there 5 minutes before closing and checked out their selection of gizmos. I picked a decent looking one up for $260 and also bought a couple of proper water bottles. Happy as Larry – now I won’t be wasting time getting lost anymore!
I hit the Anacostia trail just as it was getting dark, I still had another 15 miles to go. 2 miles in and it was pitch black, I could see 10ft in front of me with my head-torch on. Roads at night aren’t too bad because you get some nice white lines to follow and there are few potholes. Trails on the other hand are littered with branches, sharp stones, puddles and furry creatures – all the things which can easily throw you from your bike and kill you. Well, maybe give you a few scrapes and grazes. Lesson #2 – Try and avoid trails when it’s dark.
I heard rustling up ahead so I lifted my head to shine the torch further. Fifteen deer all froze and looked at me in unison. I slammed on my brakes and watched as they all scattered throughout the surrounding woods. I crept along the path and peered into where they had just entered – I couldn’t see a single one. They had all merged in with their surroundings and were now absolutely still. It was a great shame because I quite fancied a venison supper.
Just over an hour later I made it off the trail and onto the main roads so I just had a few more turns before I arrived at Elizabeths. Wrong. I must’ve ventured too far on the trail because none of my directions made any sense, there was no Allison Street to be seen. Aimlessly wandering, I queried a few locals – none of whom seemed to know any of the streets on my list so I turned on my shiny new GPS.
I couldn’t figure it out so I went back to cycling around the streets. 15 more minutes passed and I struck gold and found a street on my list of directions. Another mile away and as if to punish me – up a sodding hill – a sofa was waiting for me. 9.30pm and I finally get to the porch, exhausted and bemused. My spirits were soon lifted when Elizabeth and Mike were waiting with a cold beer – Cheers.