Bike USA: August 9-29, 2000 – The final stretch – Cumberland, DC

Max’s stuff in black, Mark’s in brown.

The Final Stretch

West Virginia
It was very warm.
ATA trail
ATA trail
ATA trail
Movie of the C & O Canal Towpath

From Pittsburgh we took the YRT, the Allegheny Highlands Trail, and the C & O Towpath all the way in to the greater D.C. area. Blammo, back in rural country. Specifically Amish like country. The paths were limestone but fine to ride on with 1.35″ slicks. The YRT and the Allegheny were so nice that they became rather boring. The Allegheny ends with an impressive viaduct (bridge) that put the high bridge outside Valentine, Nebraska to shame. It was also really cool to see the wind turbine farm in the distance. The C & O was full of puddles, fallen branches, and turtles out for a stroll, so it was much more exciting.

At one point on the towpath, I ran over an approx 5″ diameter light greyish object. It was near dusk so everything looked greyish. I was looking at my cycle-computer or something and then when I looked in front of my bike I noticed this object in the road too late to avoid it. I think it was either a turtle or a bull frog or at least something animal-like. But I also think it was dead since when I ran it over, I heard a little thunk/crunch noise and then got splattered with white gooey kinda like mud stuff that had little maggots writhing about. I wiped it all off as best I could, but my bike stank for 3 days of something not quite right which made me ill everytime I inhaled too much, which happens often when one is doing physical exercise.

nice signs

Everytime we had to leave the trail, about 50 miles or so, it got extremely hilly. Scalding rims downhill and walkers uphill. We asked a local for directions twice and, like EVERY time before, found that locals are the prime source for misinformation. If we stuck to looking at the sun’s position and rattling bones, we would have been better off. Camped illegally twice.

Heck yeah it was hilly! Worse road conditions and grades during those couple of days when we had to ride roads than any other time our whole trip. Beware Pennsylvania. Wait until 2002 or 2003 when the whole trail from Pittsburgh to DC will be complete. It makes for funny memories though…

Coming into Great Falls, a suburb outside D.C., we got a roast chicken and rolls at a Safeway and just ate in the parking lot. There were no bike racks and about a million SUVs. People just sitting and waiting in the car, listening to music and leaving the air conditioner on. They looked pretty aghast to see two dark bikers ripping flesh and sucking marrow in the parking lot. We used the rolls to wipe the grease from our faces and hands. We were disturbing their sheltered world of conformity.

Personally, I don’t think we were disturbing their world beliefs at all. I think they were conveniently pidgeon-holing us in the ‘bum’ category.

On the way to Allen, a Cornell classmate’s, apartment in the outreaches of Silver Spring my brother’s chain snapped. I’ll take that as an omen that our trip should end now. Despite the rain and unforgiving traffic we made it to Allen’s on the 18th of August. We made it. Time for some serious anime (japanese animation) watching.

The odd thing is that we, or at least I, Mark, didn’t feel super elated or anything. The whole sense of accomplishment did not culminate with our finishing in DC. I think we got over the fact that we would make it by the time we reached Chicago. The end of the trip was just follow-thru. Anime was great!

We had dinner with our Great Uncle Eight, an ex-NASA and DOE heat transfer engineer. He drives like a maniac and it was quite unnerving when he and his wife would ask us to read street signs for them while we travelled at mach 2. If you slowed down maybe it would be AAAAAAHHHHH less stressful. Oh nevermind. Anyway we got the special Asian treatment at a really good Chinese seafood restaurant. My brother got a great fortune, “Your existence is a benefit to mankind.” As opposed to “You should die now you oxygen stealer.”

That night we watched hours of anime back at Allen’s. Jojo’s Bizarre AdventureCowboy Bebopthe Hakkenden, and Record of Lodoss Wars. aaaaaah, like heroin straight into the bloodstream.

in DC
BBQ with Allen and his relatives – Allen is the guy behind Max.

On the 19th, George, a friend from Reed whose parents live in Philly, came down by bus to meet us and hung out with us while we sightsaw DC. We ended up checking out the circular sculpture building and the National Air and Space Museum right next door. George had never been to DC before, so we had fun doing the obligatory photos of him and monuments and of us and monuments to document the fact that we friggin biked to DC. That night we were treated to a bbq that Allen’s relatives were having and even later, we went to watch The Cell. Allen is an awesome host, his apartment is very immaculate and he has a cool cat. Oh and the anime.

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