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Delaware, Maryland and DC
(April 13-14 & 19)
Bethany Beach, Delaware -- It was Saturday, April 12th. Several friends and I had driven, convoy-style, to the Atlantic Ocean from Washington, D.C. to launch me on my expedition. "Inauspicious" pretty well describes the occasion: I was about to set off on a 13 state journey on April 13 -- any numerologist would have told me to go home. (In fact it was 12 states plus the District of Columbia, but the Forces of Darkness don't deal in subtleties.) The Thisworldly signs weren't much better; Saturday day had been chilly and dreary, and evening had brought a cold, driving rain. Then of course there were my own doubts. This tour was going to be awfully long, and I was going by myself. My friends tire of my company after eight hours - how was I going to stand eight weeks of it? More to the point, I wasn't entirely sure why I was taking the ride in the first place.
No wonder I look distracted -- even bewildered -- in the photos taken early on departure day. But lucky me. The rain had stopped during the night and, while it was still damp and cool on Sunday morning, it looked like an okay day for riding. Plus I was actually heading toward home for two days, and the first couple rides (a long day to the Chesapeake Bay and Annapolis, then a shorter one to DC) weren't complicated. So in keeping with the adage, "never put off to tomorrow what you can put off to the day after", I decided to postpone my worrying and just ride.
My friend Jeff was going to ride with me to the Bay. After a leisurely breakfast with the gang, the obligatory wheel dip in the ocean and a terrific sendoff, we started riding west across the pan-flat Delmarva peninsula. We made great time for about 40 miles, but around one o'clock we ran into powerful, gusty head and crosswinds -- stronger than either of us could remember riding in. Jeff, not carrying a load, pretty much stationed himself in front of me and created as big a wind shadow as he could, but it was hard riding for both of us. We had figured about 80 miles for the day but when we finally packed in it, just shy of the Bay Bridge and in cold darkness, we had ridden more than 105. Whuf. I was beat.
I spent the night with a couple of friends who lived nearby; Jeff drove home. The next day was still a little blustery but not bad, and I had a pretty easy ride over increasingly familiar roads back home.
Day 3 began at my front door. The neighbors gathered to see me off, as did friends and relatives who had opted out of the big beach weekend. The weather had turned sunny and several folks planned to ride with me through the morning; my doubts began to recede.
The escorts turned around in Poolesville, Maryland. I rode another few miles down the road and paid 50 cents to take White's Ferry across the Potomac River into Virginia. I paused for a moment on the far side to look back at the greenery just beginning to show on the banks of the wide, slow river. The sun was still shining; I was by myself and heading away from home. The trip had begun in earnest, and it looked like it was going to be okay.
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Page posted August 14, 1997