Hello from DC! The tour so far has gone really well. The last couple of days were very warm but I’m fine as long as I keep pedaling. The bike is in the shop today, getting a new cassette installed, so that I might have some chance of getting over the mountains in my future. My camera holster suffered a minor break, so until I glue that there will be no road-filming. Other than that everything is in great shape. My left leg is starting to get a little tanner than my right, so I know I’m still headed West.
The next couple of days will be on the C&O Towpath and the Great Allegheny Passage, two excellent (I’m told) bike paths that connect DC to Pittsburgh. Not sure yet where I’ll be sleeping on the trail. The number of miles I can do tomorrow depends greatly on when my bike gets out of the shop. Worst case I’ll be leaving DC around 1, which is a lot later than I’m used to. I think it will still work out, since the trails are 320 miles total, so 2.5 days sounds about right. Relatedly, I’ve discovered that successive 100+ mile days are not outside my limit! This is good news because I really need to pick up some time. I’ve travelled 600 miles out of 4500 (13.3%), but I’m already 1/4 through my leave. I know I can pick up some miles in the flat Midwest, but then the Rockies will slow me down…we’ll see what happens.
From Pittsburgh through to the West Coast I know very few people, so this is an open call for network! All I need is a bit of lawn space or a couch at minimum. So if you know people in any of the following cities who wouldn’t mind hosting me for a night, please contact me! I’m not sure yet exactly when I’ll be passing through any of them.
St Louis, MO
Or anywhere relatively between! If you have people on the Lewis and Clark trail hold on to them for now, I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself.
Passing through New Haven I got my first (and so far only) flat tire. On a small, pointy rock. I ride through broken glass and trash and gravel every day, but it’s all fine. One small pointy rock however: different matter. I was in a pretty shady part of town too (just past the Yale campus), but luckily I got on the phone with a friend while I did the repair.
A little while after that I was cruising down 1 and saw the most excited Quiznos guy. He was standing outside the establishment with a sign, doing all the jumping and dancing and throwing tricks. I held out my hand as I went by and we high-fived. He was very excited.
In New York the next day—I suppose this was Day 6—I hung out with a bunch of friends from college. We brunched and lunched and homebrewed, and then I had a surprise nap. It’s very satisfying to fall asleep among friends, full of French toast and fajitas and beer, but it’s distressing to wake up and find out you’ve lost two whole hours of quality time with old friends. It could be worse though: I’ll see them again at Thanksgiving, and I probably needed the sleep.
On Day 7 I rode from Mamaroneck through the Bronx to the East side of Manhattan, then all the way down the Hudson park path to the ferry across to Jersey City. It was a very nice ride. Even Jersey City was ok to ride through. Newark, however, was a hole. A slimy, noisy, gritty, over-industrialized hole. Rural Jersey was ok though. But the Hudson park path was very nice. I realized as I was cruising down it that I think I’ve always wanted to ride or run or walk on it, ever since I was a kid riding in a car on the Henry Hudson Parkway. And now my dream has come true! I can return home happy.
Day 8 saw me through some Quaker or possibly Amish parts of Pennsylvania. It was pretty dusty, and I definitely rode through some horse droppings, but aside from the hills everything was great. I would be biking along a field in the hot sun, wishing for some shade. I would see some trees up ahead, and bike faster to get there. When I get there though I realize that the trees are there because they haven’t been cut down, and they haven’t been cut down because the ground is too hilly to farm. So a mixed blessing. But the countryside was a welcome change from the nearly-continuous strip mall I’d been biking through since New Hampshire. I’m looking forward to more of that in the next three days.
I’m starting to come to terms with the change of lifestyle. I am tracking a few things like weather, repairs and strange occurrences, food and morning bed-head/beard-attempt. One of the voices in my head is advocating for tracking when I eat what exact food, and when I fill my water bottles (in order that I might be able to plan my diet better), but other voices think this is too much a waste of time, that it’s much less stressful to just go with the flow, learn the cues my body is giving me, and stop thinking too hard about everything.
I’ve also meant to take more pictures and more film, but I’m having a hard time making time for it. I’ve started resorting to excuses, like “oh maybe I’ll do more when I get to the L&C”, or “I have to fix my phone mount first”, or “it’s just really difficult without someone else who can hold the camera / knows what they’re doing / can call me on my bullshit”. Honestly I think I just don’t know what to film, or what story to tell, other than the theme “cowboy/frontiersman”. I don’t want to feel beholden to do it, either. I want to want to, I guess is what I’m saying. Either that or this is my third beer and I have a very accelerated metabolism.