A Sample Of The Flat East And Two New Firsts

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A Rainy Start In Baltimore

My Caesar Salad

Ale’s Spinach Salad

The Classy Restaurant

A Bit Of Alexandria

I didn’t post yesterday because our room didn’t have WiFi. So 2 rides are covered today.

July 20, Friday (North East To Baltimore):

This ride was different because little of it was as rural as previously. And no big hills. Just the flat east. So flat that I climbed 4,235 in 60 miles with grades up to 21%, though those were VERY short and dropped to 13 – 16% for a bit. The good news for me was that I felt good during most of the ride and didn’t feel beat when I finished.

Our time in Baltimore was such that we both agreed that we didn’t like what we saw of the city and it is a place I have no reason to visit again.

We went to a movie but the closest theater was 6 miles away and it took more than 30 minutes to get there. Not as slow as Philadelphia, but a lot slower than Orinda to Walnut Creek and with a bit more drama. On the way, I got cussed out at a stop when I told a young guy who sprayed our windshield that I was not going to pay him for squeegeeing it off.

The theater, which was downtown had no parking and street parking was almost nonexistent because of a once a year 3 day street festival. We did finally, with a bit of luck, find a place I could fit the Suburban with the folded up bike rack and I will say that the metered parking was very reasonable. However, between finding the space and the walk to the theater our movie – “Damsel” – had started. Although I hadn’t heard of it before, we both enjoyed it. It is a gritty western with beautiful photography, an interesting plot twist and some unrealistic gimmicks that didn’t ruin it for us, though they did detract for me.

After the movie we wandered through the festival which encompassed a number of blocks and had a large crowd. We both agreed that it was pretty boring in that aside from the food trucks
which had very long lines, most of the booths were advertising businesses rather than selling art or crafts. My feeling was that if this is there big once a year festival, Baltimore doesn’t hace much going for it. (I’m not getting into the Oriels or Ravens.)

Because of those lines, we decided to eat at a restaurant. The problem was that aside from fast food, of which there were plenty, the only restaurants we could find were downtown where parking was $20 because of the festival. The result was that we ended up eating take out in our room from a fish market. Ale called that an interesting experience; we heard 2 different customers cuss out the attendant, one of them saying that they shouldn’t hire Moslems, and another customer told me that we didn’t want to spend any time in the area.

Plus we hadn’t seen any part of the city that looked particularly attractive. Maybe I should have driven to Camden Yards, though I didn’t think of it at the time.

So I wasn’t sorry to leave this morning. Maybe that is why the only Baltimore photo I am posting is of my departure.

July 21, Saturday (Baltimore to Alexandria, VA):

Today started with warnings of rain, warnings that came very true.

This ride was more urban than any of the others with none of it going through country side. The roads were a bit less bike friendly in that what shoulders there are on Route 1 frequently disappeared so that I had to claim a lane for myself which, although the highway was 4 to 6 lanes, was a bit unnerving with cars going by at 60 mph or so.

And then add in the rain. Though by itself the rain really wasn’t too much of a problem except that the wet surfaces are a bit more sketchy.

Then one of those firsts happened. I got my first flat of the trip. I was disappointed because I had started dreaming of matching last year’s feat but knew that that was very unrealistic. At least it happened where I had a very large shoulder to work on.

At about mile 27 of the ride that had been very easy on my legs my earphone said that I was no longer connected to my phone, an untenable situation because I was listening to directions. I stopped and discovered that my phone had died which was a bit surprising because in the past I had still had a charge at 35 to 40 miles and I had been getting fewer directions because the last stretch had been for 16 miles. In any event, I knew I had to recharge it by connecting to one of my spare batteries and figured I could spend the time waiting in a small restaurant where I got some good fried chicken wings.

The problem was that I was soaking wet and I got cool in the air conditioned restaurant. No problem, I figured, because riding always warms me up so I put my wet raincoat back on, went out into the rain and got on my bike. However, I had to stand and wait at a signal to get across a very busy and very wet – as in streams of water wet – road. After returning to pedaling, which was no big deal, I found myself on a non-highway road on which I had to look out for cracks and pot holes while watching for impatient drivers who passed closer than I liked, often spraying me as they went by. And then I started shivering from being wet and cold even though earlier I had been equally wet and the temperature was no lower. The air conditioning had cooled me down and the stop to get across the road hadn’t helped. My whole body was shivering so much that it effected my riding; I couldn’t be sure of getting the bike to go exactly where i wanted, a scary proposition given a very narrow shoulder and some very unsympathetic drivers who were whizzing by. That is when the second first happened. I decided to call it a day because of being too cold with less than 20 miles to go, a distance that I have considered to mean that I am virtually finished for the day. My legs were very willing but I told myself that with my shaking effecting my bike that continuing involved more risk than I was willing to take. So I pulled over to a small strip mall and set out to contact Ale.

That was more difficult than one would expect. I couldn’t get my phone to work. I was shivering enough that I often couldn’t push the letter I intended, my fingers were so wet that the phone often wouldn’t obey my touch commands and for whatever reason the phone was also acting squirrelly and doing weird things. Maybe it was shivering internally although I had kept it dry in a plastic baggie. However, I finally reached her and I finished the last 20 miles into Alexandria in the SAG which was especially disappointing because until the very end the ride had been physically easy. 29 miles and only 1,329 feet of climb. Some at 10% but that was easier than it had been.

We visited Alexandria after the end of last year’s ride and it is delightful. At least it is when it isn’t pouring.

We splurged on dinner, a spinach salad and duck for Ale and a Caesar and duck for me.

Constant rain is projected as far south as Miami over at least the next 9 days. I intend to start out tomorrow rain or shine; well, actually, rain or more rain. How long I last will depend. I have pushed myself and will do so in the future but if it starts to feel unsafe, I will honor my promise to Sandi and call it a day. After all, as I told Ale, baseball games are cancelled for rain. Yes, I also mentioned that football games aren’t. And neither are bike races. But this isn’t a race, I am not getting paid and I want to return home without any accidents sending me home.

So, send in your donations, right? Remember, they are to help breast cancer victims so the fact that I may wimp out shouldn’t effect that.

Bye for now,



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One Response to A Sample Of The Flat East And Two New Firsts

  1. Bobbi Siems says:

    Doesn’t sound like much fun right now! Hope your following day wasn’t so cold. You are now in my brother’s family’s territory – the nephew that was just here lives in Ellicott City, Maryland and my brother is in Burke, Virginia. Are you going through DC or avoiding it?

    Here – basically nice weather – for a few days the hottest temps. will break a bit. I hope you get a break – nicer, more open weather so you can enjoy some scenery.

    Hang in there…. Bobbi

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