Bike Tour 2004 - The Mount Everest D.C. Tour


Jim and Tom's 8th bike tour

Prologue

I drove out to PA this summer for Jim's and my bike tour because I just do not trust the airlines with my bike. If the airport security people (TSA) decide they want to open a box containing a bicycle and take everything out they can just go ahead and do that. There is absolutely no trust in either my heart or my mind that they will put the bicycle back into the box the correct way. I can just imagination the high level of emphasis given to each TSA employee on the importance of putting the bicycle back into the bike box correctly to avoid damaging the bicycle. Besides, the country is experiencing regular Orange Alerts from the Home Land Security Department and I can tell their primary message is for all of us to be very afraid.

I'm curious to hear about the experiences of other bicycle riders flying with their trusted bicycles. Don't be shy, send me an email: tmacd1@gmail.com

on the road again

The first day I drive from Minneapolis to South Bend, IN and have dinner that evening at a nice Chinese restaurant. The next morning, after breakfast, I start driving over to Notre Dame when someone yells at me and says, "is that your bicycle wheel back there where you where parked?" *sigh* I walk around the Notre Dame campus to get a feel for it. They have a nice feeling campus. My advice is for you to go see it yourself. *wink*

Back on the freeway for me as I head with a vengeance toward Mercer, PA. They have these 'things' placed at regular intervals all along the toll roads through Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. They are places where you can stop and get some of the worst looking food I've ever seen in my life. They are called Travel Stop, Rest Stop, Plaza, Oasis, BadFoodRUs, etc.

The only explanation I can come up with for this incredibly pitiful selection of food on the toll roads is that this explains who we are as Americans. You see, there is a huge statistical cross section of most America driving on these toll roads, and we all stop at these things even if it's just to go to the bathroom. Therefore, the food at these things on the toll roads must be the lowest common denominator That most people will eat if they have to, but it must also maximize profits. You see, this is the food that the largest section of the bell curve, of the entire toll road population, actually purchases.

Later I'm roaring down the toll road at the near rebellious speed of 10 mph faster than the speed limit, sucking on a chocolate banana malt from the DQ, and thinking to myself how much I love these DQ malts. Life is good.

Below is an overview map of the entire bike tour route. This tour is about the hills. This tour is neither distance nor speed oriented - it's all about the hills. According to Topo USA software we climbed more than 29,000 feet of hills -- the same height as Mount Everest. That's why we're calling this trip the Mount Everest DC tour. The upside, er downside, is that since Mercer's elevation is about 1200 feet at DC is near sea level, we went down about 30,000 feet of gravity induced, adrenaline rush hills. Yee haw!

On each day of this tour we rise and ride early to avoid the afternoon rains.

trip map

Monday, July 19, 72.75 miles, Avg 12.8 mph, 5h38m riding time, 5,473 feet vertical
Mercer to Leechburg

day 1

Above is the hill profile for our Monday ride.

start

The first day there are 28 hills. We wake up at 5:45am and eat some granola and fruit. Our tour begins on a cloudy and almost foggy morning with the temperature in the low 60s. By the time we reach our final destination for today, Leechburg, the temperature will climb into the low 80s. We start riding at 7:00am on the back roads of northwestern PA. Soon we pass by a nearby veterinarian's place that is Jim's neighbor. Here they have a deer and an elk in their field that watch us as we ride by. Before long we are riding through the hilly city of Slippery Rock, home of Slippery Rock University. There are just a few commuters at this early morning hour.

There are many hills in this unglaciated terrain shortly after Slippery Rock. A couple of green tunnels (trees on both sides of the road form a canopy over the road) appear and we ride through noticing that the fog gets a little thicker inside the tunnels. We ride on Muddy Creek and Sunset, and there are no flat stretches anywhere. Jim's digital camera starts giving us some problems saying some pictures we took are corrupted. I guess we won't be seeing those pictures.

Yee Haw

Our first rest stop is in the city of Butler at "The Diamond" a square in town with memorials to several wars. I'm not convinced that those who donated money or developed this Square ever anticipated a visit from the likes of us.

Butler County Courthouse

The Court House across the street has a sign in the door saying, "closed for your own protection." Once again we are told to be afraid. I think this current Home Land Security thing might be a tad excessive. I can only hope that some day in my lifetime someone reads this web page and says to themselves, "what was Home Land Security?"

The sun starts coming out and shines through the scattered holes on the clouds where we see blue sky. There's a Big climb out of Butler (hill 18) and at the moment the slight tail wind is not helping much. Two vehicles honk at us. I'm never sure what I should do when I am thirty miles into a ride and a car or truck honks at me. Do they want me to get off my bike and just sit there? It's always best to just ignore horn honkers.

Soon we enter some exurban development and dairy farm landscape. The corn is quite high and looks fine to this city boy. Then the road narrows and becomes much rougher, and busier with traffic. We head toward Saxonburg and then stop there for a break, where we discover that the local bakery closed last Dec. 24 after 30 years. I bet they had good pastries. We check out maps (as we do regularly) to see what's coming out way. There's a good road to Saxonburg. The road gets wider, has a good shoulder, but higher speed limits. It's nice to be back on a smooth road.

Next we ride toward Freeport where we encounter a monster downhill that plunges into Freeport. I hit 46 mph on the is very steep and somewhat rough hill. The roughest part is at the end of this just over one mile downhill. Stopping at the end is a little tricky. Since it's approaching noon we have lunch in Freeport at the Freeport's Food grocery store. Rita is our waitress and she has a rather morose personality. If I had to guess, I'd say she doesn't enjoy her current employment. I order a "Tropical Fruit Salad" and it turns out to be fruit cocktail from a can. It's all in the Marketing I guess.

Freeport is an aging but still charming town. As we leave Freeport we cross the Allegheny River on a busy highway with narrow shoulders. By now it's starting to get quite pretty and and quite sunny. The temperature is rising. We bump into some minor road construction after Freeport. The highway turns into a major uphill that spans hills 26, 27 and 28. All of these hills are very steep and long. But that's what we like - steep and long on a hot afternoon. After all, that's what this tour is all about - the hills. Next there are some nice downhills as we descend into Leechburg,

Golden Lounge

We cross the Kiski River and find our motel, The Golden Lounge. We arrive at 2:00pm. This is the only motel in the area and it turns out we are lucky because this is a Monday and the only day of the week that the Bar that is attached to the motel is closed. Otherwise sleeping that night might have been a challenge. Everyone at the The Golden Lounge is quite friendly but they are also interesting characters. One woman sits outside her motel room all day long when she is not cleaning rooms. This appears to be her entire life. When we arrive the owner is washing his old Cadillac.

Since we rose early that morning, we take a nap during this hot part of the day. While we sleep it starts pouring down rain outside.

Pedestrian bridge

Later we ride back toward Leechburg in search of dinner, but first we decide to walk out on a pedestrian bridge for pictures.

Kiski River

There is a good view of the Kiski River and knowing that Homeland Security is watching our every move makes us feel safe even though we know we are suppose to be afraid.

We eat dinner at an Italian restaurant named Bonellos. Our waitress, Michelle, not only served us delicious pasta, but she also warned us not to eat anything that came out of the Kiski River - and we didn't. We also talk to a couple of guys admiring our bikes as we wait for our food to arrive.

Share the Road or you're a terrorist

After dinner we ride a little more and pass through nearby North Vandergrift on our way to Vandergrift. We ride all around hilly Vandergrift which is home to Allegheny Ludlum Steel Plant. Vandergrift appears to be a nice well maintained town. The sun is starting to set and we head back to the Golden Lounge.

Tuesday, July 20, 71.9 miles, Avg 11 mph, 6h28m riding time, 7,308 feet vertical
Leechburg to Somerset

day 2

Above is the hill profile for our Tuesday ride. Can you find Laurel Hill?

We ride 24 hills on day 2. We wake up at 6:00am and say good-bye to the Golden Lounge. Our first stop is breakfast at G&Gs in Vandergrift. The peach stuffed french toast is delicious. One can't help but notice that most restaurants around here have numerous smoking patrons.

While we are putting on sunscreen, a local friendly asks us, "how many miles to gallon do you get?" He tells us his son spent $400 on a bike that he's never used. This is a common story of people buying a bike and almost never riding it. It's that good intentions thing.

The temperature is in the 60s as we climb hill #1 out of town. This is a long steep hill that works off many mouthfuls of peach stuffed french toast. We see a pretty layered effect in the landscape through the thin fog. There are a number of ridges around Vandergrift that provide nice panoramic views of the countryside. After climbing hill #2 we figure out we took a wrong turn and stop and ask for directions. We head back the other way only down a steep hill this time. We turn right at the bottom and get on SR819. This puts us on hill #3 which is also a very long and very steep climb. SR819 is a nice quiet smooth road all the way to Saltzburg and good for morning riding.

flour power

In Saltzburg we stop at a park and use the restroom and a local friendly gives us a tour of this old flour mill that looks exactly like it did the day they quit milling in the 1950s. Very interesting tour of an old mill. There is talk of the historical society turning it into a museum.

I'll hit you in the head

We ride through Saltzburg and then ride down to the Kiski river on a challenging bike path.

Saltzburg - Kiski River

Saltzburg is similar to so many cities that Jim and I love and then leave. However, we have to keep moving to stay one step ahead of the imminent danger that Home Land Security constantly warns is lurking out there.

Saltzburg - road cut

On the road out of Saltzburg we see this nice road cut. After Saltzburg the traffic gets busier on SR981. There are once again the many hills we crave and we see steep pasture land all around. There is no shoulder on this road until after New Alexandria. Two vehicles honk at us again today. I do not know why, but I definitely feel I should report them to Home Land Security.

The last six miles into Latrobe are busy, with no shoulder, and some white knuckle riding as the cars whiz by. We ride around and explore Latrobe, which has a nice Amtrak Station, and is a clean town There are not many choices for lunch here though. We settle for a Subway.

After lunch we leave Latrobe on highway 30 - The Lincoln Highway. This will take us all the way to Ligonier. We travel through a very pretty gorge, but on a busy four lane highway with poor shoulders.

Loyalhanna Gorge thru Chestnut Ridge

The Loyal Hanna River cuts a path that makes up this gorge through a ridge creating spectacular scenery, but also some more white knuckle riding. The Road Toad

And now it's time for a great find - the Road Toad (assuming you can read the sign just above Jim's arm).

Love the Road Toad

When we get to Ligonier we stop briefly to wait out a brief light shower, all the while hoping we don't catch Ligonier disease. There is a convenient bench with a roof overhead. The temperature rises up into the 70s this afternoon. Soon the light rain is over. Our next stop is the Speed Goat Bicycle Shop to pump up our tires.

www.speedgoat.com

The Speed Goat is a nice bicycle store and I recommend you stop in if you're in the area. A local friendly that works there tells us the Highway 30 hill (called Laurel Hill) is steep and long, and that he he is envious and wishes he could ride along. We tell him we're looking forward to the challenge and thank him for letting us use their floor pump. It turns out that guy was right. It's a two lane highway with a decent shoulder, but it's also a 3.5 mile climb to the summit and very steep. We stop after two miles to rest. There's a fair amount of truck traffic but most going the other way.

Laurel Hill top

We take pictures at the top. I own this hill called Laurel Hill.

Laurel Hill summit

I climbed every vertical foot of this hill and now it's mine. I love this hill.

The downhill felt like a roller coaster that was a straight shot (no curves) with several big dips along the way, and a bumpy shoulder to ride on. Three cars traveling uphill decide to pass the car in front of them. This makes me more nervous that an Orange Alert as they look like they're heading straight at me.

Laurel Hill downhill

Here is a picture of the downhill we just finished. You spend so much time and energy climbing a hill and then poof, you go down that 2.5 mile hill in no time.

Jennerstown is at the bottom of the hill. We turn onto SR985 heading toward Somerset when we see an ice cream shop and stop for a treat. Jim gets a medium cone and I get a small cone but when we sit down we notice both cones are the same size. Lucky me! As we're eating our ice cream we hear some thunder, which seems strange on this bright sunny day. Fortunately no more rain falls upon us the rest of today.

SR985 is a nice, smooth, and fairly low traffic road until right before Somerset. We pass a lot of big box retail shops and some other commercial retail places.

We arrive at the Budget Inn motel about 5:30pm. After a refreshing shower, we head over to the Summit Diner (been around since the 50s) for dinner. We put some quarters in the 50s style "Stereo Consolette" at our booth but it never plays the songs we selected. These songs have probably been banned by Homeland Security. There are mostly local patrons in this diner. I get some good pasta at the Summit. After dinner we stroll through Somerset and see the town.

Wednesday, July 21, 87.14 miles, Avg 11.2 mph, 7h44m riding time, 9,736 feet vertical
Somerset to Hancock

day 3

Above is the hill profile for our Wednesday ride. Rumor has it that there are some hills waiting for us today (oh goody). Can you find the 10 mile downhill?

We ride 40 really fun hills today. It's rise and shine at 6:00am this morning. We decide to ride to the town of Berlin for breakfast. As we ride through Somerset that morning we pass by someone stopped at a red light and playing the blues. I take this as a good omen as we start riding hills before 7:00am in temperatures that are in the low 60s.

It's the hills

Shortly after passing by a correctional institute we start riding some more hills.

wind farm

We pass by a wind generation farm that is filled with wind generators.

Did I happen to mention that it's very hilly? We turn right and head south toward Brotherton and pass by some open dairy country. After the small town of Brotherton we head onto Berlin and arrive there at 8am.

we almost stayed here

In Berlin we checkout the New National Hotel where the rooms are only $20/night. We almost stayed here but it just didn't work out. As we ride by there is a guy sitting in the lobby, looking out the picture window, and slowly smoking his cigarette. Definitely I'm staying here next time.

We have a wonderful breakfast at Ginny's where they also have a beautiful panoramic view behind the restaurant. We head south out of Berlin where we bump into some wonderful hills. This time a number of them are downhills. I'm amazed at how routinely I am riding between 35 and 45 mph. We also bump into some minor road construction. Looks like they're just clearing out brush from the side of the highway. We see a number of prosperous looking dairy farms. ridges

We pass by these nice panoramic ridges on PA 160. PA 160 was once called Plank Road as it was lined with planks so the buckboards and horse drawn carriages could use this road. (Thanks to Susie VanMeter for the info about Plank Road.)

ruffles

And, it's worth looking back at them too.

We climb a major hill and then there is a 4 mile downhill at 9% grade to Wellersburg. The road is a little rough and twisty so we can't ride down at full speed.

It's dangerous to ride your brakes all the way down a steep hill that is multiple miles long. The brakes can actually heat up your wheels to a temperature where the tires will either blow out or come off the wheel. This means it's safer to periodically brake hard, followed by no braking at all. This gives the wheel some chance to cool down in between the periods of braking. We still easily get over 40 mph.

Mason Dixon Line

This hill is also where we cross the Mason Dixon line. We are now officially in the South. This downhill continues on and is part of a 10 mile downhill that is a pretty incredible ride. At the bottom of this incredible hill we are practically in Cumberland. We stop for Gatorade just before entering Cumberland. Cumberland is only accessible by riding through "The Narrows" which has a narrow shoulder and a fair amount of traffic.

Our Exploration of Cumberland reveals a nice historic city with well preserved old architecture buildings and homes. There is also Willis Creek that runs through town but it is completely channelized in its own concrete walls. We stop at a Visitors Center, look at a map of the city, and decide to eat downtown. We ride into the downtown area and down a pedestrian mall where we find The Baltimore Street Grill. Our waitress takes one look at us in our biking clothes and says, "you probably don't want any alcohol to drink, right?" We assure her that right now alcohol is not in our best interest. We still have to ride up Sidling Hill. They offer lunch outside, and we enjoy our view as we look at the local architecture while we also enjoy our food. I eat an excellent pasta dish.

After Cumberland there are no more flat stretches. Come to think of it, The Narrows and the city of Cumberland are the only flat stretches all day. We bump into a detour on Mason Road just outside of Cumberland (bridge out) and ride a two mile detour. Eventually we get back onto narrow Mason Road in this very remote area. For a short time we wonder if we're lost but our compass tells us we are at least riding in the right direction. Soon we come to highway 144 and this is the road we are looking for.

Keep on Truckin'

From highway 144 we see this truck broken down on the freeway below.

Mason Road was quite hilly but highway 144 crosses a mountain. We find a 2.5 mile climb that brings a smile to our faces. An added benefit is that it's quite hot, humid, and sunny. We notice that many pickup trucks pass us, and immediately after they pass us, they floor it and race away. Maybe they think they win that way? Going down this mountain presents a great 2 mile downhill to the little town of Flintstone, where we stop for Gatorade. We end up changing the route to be slightly shorter at this point because it's getting later into the afternoon. We ride Alt US 40 which we know has three major climbs.

Biking Rocks

We come upon this folded strata. This shows that a long time ago Africa slammed into America and forced these rock strata to fold. And you know, even though the damage was worse than the destruction of many nuclear bombs, Africa has never paid us for any of this damage. :)

Geologist's wet dream

Just look at all the damage. These strata should be horizontal.

The top of the first major hill along ALT 40 is Green Mountain. We stop for a quick break. Then we climb the second big hill, and finally, the third big hill. The third hill is called Town Hill. Up here it begins to rain lightly and we seek shelter under a covered area, with a great view, for a few minutes. We decide it's better to ride down the hill now before it gets too wet and slippery. It's a good plan as there is no rain at the bottom of this 2.5 mile hill. At this point we reach the end of Alt 40. Sidling hill is coming up and we soon come to siding creek.

sunflower power

Here we find a sunflower growing right out of the bridge over the creek.

Sidling Creek

This is Sidling Creek and it is at the bottom Sidling Hill.

day 4

Here is the contour map of Siding Hill and we are riding left to right.

As we start riding up it becomes apparent that this is an ultra steep hill, and it continues for a little over a mile. Then, it levels off to just steep the rest of the way.

Sidling Hill summit

We make it to the top of Sidling Hill happy as can be. The 4 mile downhill part of Sidling Hill is fantastic because you go about 40 mph the entire time down a smooth wide road. A short ways down this hill two birds approach from my left and fly directly toward my head. The first one goes by a couple feet in from of my face but the second one isn't going to make it without hitting me. At the last moment it turns sharply to it's left to avoid hitting me and flies parallel to my head approximately one foot away (or so it seemed at that speed). In a few moments the bird regains all control and rises up and flies over my head. This is a very unique, riding downhill at 40 mph, experience.

After Sidling Hill we climb a few more hills and arrive in Hancock, MD on another nice downhill. We get another Gatorade and go looking for our motel. It turns out the motel is not hard to find but the office is completely hidden on the side away from the entrance, where you can't see it. We arrive at 7:00pm.

The proprietors have trouble understanding our English and we have trouble understanding theirs. They can't find our reservation (made over the phone in English) but it really doesn't matter since all of the rooms are vacant. That evening we eat dinner at The Lockhouse. I ate a ton of shrimp that was served with the shells still on. It took me so long to peel and eat the shrimp that Jim started shelling them with me, and this way I could eat twice as fast. I hate it when they serve shrimp that have to be shelled before you can eat them. The food was good though. We sleep well that night.

Thursday, July 22, 59.48 miles, Avg 13.3 mph, 4h27m riding time, 3,701 feet vertical
Hancock to Charles Town

day 4

Above is the hill profile for our Thursday ride. This is our easy day.

We ride 14 hills and only 38 mph as our maximum speed.

We wake up at 6:00am as there is the threat of rain again this afternoon. The temperature and dew point are in the mid 60s and it's foggy. Our breakfast this morning is at Sheetz as the proprietor of the motel was still bathing when we inquired about breakfast. Sheetz is a combination of gasoline and junk food that seems to permeate America these days. We bought some breakfast sandwiches and watched some of the locals as they sit in their trucks outside in the Sheetz parking lot and drink their coffee. I always prefer to stop at a local neighborhood cafe and have breakfast with the locals. It never tastes as good when you eat while you watch everyone pump gas.

We start riding on the Western Maryland Bike Trail at 7:00am. This is a nice smooth 11 mile bike path that runs along side the Potomac River, which is just to our right (south). Today will be the flattest and shortest day of the tour - good, because our legs are a bit sore from the over 9000 feet of vertical we climbed the day before. Somehow we're not as happy to see the hills today. I think I see a Walmart

This trail is nicely forested with nice green tunnels. We only see a couple of other riders along this path. There are a couple of nice bridges that we ride over. We see a couple of deer charging straight at us as they emerge from the fog in front of us. They quickly dart off to our left once they see us. We stop for a brief rest at the end of the trail and study the map.

We pick up Big Pool Rd (SR56) which offers a nice smooth rolling hills ride through light fog. It's all very pretty with local relief of about 300 feet. There is a lot of agriculture in this area and the corn looks good. The Sun breaks through the fog near the end of this stretch. Once more some deer dart across in front of us.

Next we hop onto Maryland SR68, which is a little busier, no shoulder, but it does get us to Williamsport.

Let's get wild

We cross the Potomac River and enter the Wild and Wonderful State of WV. First we ride US 11 but it has no shoulder, so we take a Gatorade break. I mention to Jim that WV does not seem to have good shoulders. A reasonable shoulder appears shortly after we start riding again, just to prove me wrong.

This area has some fairly recently completed housing developments that are going for $250K or so. That is an enticing price for a location that still permits access to the D.C. area.

There are numerous structures along this US 11. Retail stores of all sizes, industry, childcare, homes, animal hospital, etc. There isn't really any serious farming though. We can tell this is a happening road in WV. The local relief is only around 100 feet at the moment so there are some nice rolling hills that are easy to climb. Our legs are appreciating the easy climbs today.

As we approach Martinsburg we see the most pathetic shopping Mall in the country. This is a huge Mall that is mostly vacant and some fronts aren't even retail stores anymore. Unfortunately the appropriate effect could not be captured in a picture. We stop in Martinsburg and have lunch at the D.Q. at about 10:15am. The perfect time for a Blizzard as we are already hungry. The city of Martinsburg is hilly and has a variety of development with some nice brick buildings and a great Amtrak Station.

After lunch we ride through Martinsburg on our way out of town. Outside of town we get on Flaggs Creek and this turns out to be a smooth, narrow, and low traffic route that keeps getting more and more suburban. Soon there is the obligatory golf course (where nearby town homes go for $150K), and then it turns exurban, and finally fairly rural as some corn and soybean fields appear as we ride along. Very nice road indeed.

We turn onto highway 9 which is a busy four lane road with new concrete. Everything is roaring past us at 70 mph on this fast paced freeway. A good head wind is blowing straight at us for the next five miles as we look for the Charles Town exit. Shortly after we exit, I get a flat tire and we take a break under a shade tree to fix it. We ride into Charles Town and notice the architecture has a nice southern feel. The computer generated map has an error and it leads us in the wrong direction. Those darn computers. It turns out our motel is on the other side of town and we have to turn around and ride the other way.

Our motel has a nice friendly staff. One of them calls us Lance Armstrong as the Tour de France is in progress right now.

We ride back into town to use a computer since there is no weather channel on our TV. This lets us see their nice local library. We have to sign a form in the library though I'm not sure what that form did or did not allow me to do while I used their computer to access a couple of weather web sites. Probably Home Land Security again.

The forecast is for rain tomorrow with a better chance in the afternoon. Later, we walk even further into Charles Town and have dinner at the Chinese restaurant Shu Chen. Since we are both hungry we have soup, egg roles, and a big main course. It's delicious.

Friday, July 23, 65.23 miles, 5h33m riding time, 11.7 mph avg, 5398 feet. vertical
Charles Town to Bethesda

day 5

Above is the hill profile for our Friday ride.

We ride 21 hills today.

We crawl out of bed at 6:00am and started riding at 6:45am. It's foggy, humid, with temperatures in mid 70s and dew point at 70 - that is, it's muggy. We head east on US340 toward Harper's Ferry.

Harper's Ferry

Harper's Ferry is still asleep when we arrive. They have nice impressive local architecture.

Although John Brown was taken prisoner at Harpers Ferry, he was tried and executed in Charles Town.

Shenandoah Potomac confluence

We ride down to where the Shenandoah river runs into the Potomac. The ridge rises 1000 feet above the river. We see a face that is naturally carved into the rock wall across the river.

We take a foot bridge that is part of the Appalachian Trail across the river and into Maryland. After crossing the river we find we have to climb up to the road above by lifting our bikes up and over several stone walls. This lets us get on Sandy Hook Road beneath towering cliffs that rise on our left (the one with the face in it). We ride through Sandy Hook on this nice back road. There are rolling hills and it's a bit windy. We start to encounter some big climbs. Next, we ride County Road 180 and then 47B headed to Brunswick. Our breakfast that morning is at Mommers Diner in Brunswick. The service is a little slow but the food is real good. We share the restaurant with some motorcycle riders who are eating before they begin their day's ride. One of them sees our bicycles and says, "that's too much like working." We smile and wave and think that when we finish this tour then that's when we'll have to go back to working.

We leave on County Road 464 which is also Point of Rocks Road. This is a smooth fun road. We ride through some dairy country and then pick up SR28 in Point of Rocks.

Monacy River

We cross the Monacy River on our way to Tuscarora. More and more exurban development here. Eventually SR28 takes us to Dickerson which seems to be horse country. We stop and buy a Gatorade but their cooler is not working well and the Gatorade is warm. We follow the wrong road for a short distance, ask for directions, get back on track, and then take Barnesville Road through Barnesville and all the way to Boyds. Nice smooth road with little traffic. Clopper Road takes us to Germantown where we follow Great Seneca Highway for a couple of miles. It turns out the Great Seneca is too busy, no shoulder, and lots of fast cars. We stop and have lunch at a Whole Foods Store. After lunch we get back on Great Seneca Highway but we ride on the paved sidewalk next to it to avoid the busy traffic.

What happens next is one of the ironies of cycling. Cars coming from our left, that want to turn right onto the highway, look left for traffic and aren't looking our direction. Jim almost gets hit by a pickup truck. The guy never looked in our direction. Fortunately Jim narrowly avoids getting hit and we shake it off and ride on. Sometimes you get off the road to avoid traffic but put yourself into a different type of danger. Bike paths are not always that safe for cyclists either.

We take another wrong turn in this confusing suburban area. We ask for directions again and finally get onto Darnestown Road. A short distance later is Glen Mill Road and we ride it for a short distance to Wooten. This is a busy four lane road and then we get on a bike path again. We see two deer run straight at us and then they quickly dart away to our left. Soon there are lots of roads we take for short distances like Farm Lane and Hitching Post Lane that go through a suburban residential area. We snake our way through this suburban development to Tilden Lane.

Rockville slums

We take a picture of this big old house in in the suburb of Rockville. Soon we find a bike path that is poorly marked and a little rough but it does move us toward the beltway and it's better than riding in this D.C. traffic where there seem to be no shoulders and lots of cars.

The beltway

We cross the Beltway on this bike path and are getting closer to Bethesda.

Bethesda

We have arrived in Bethesda. We get on the Rockville Pike and ride to Wisconsin St. Our hotel is just a couple of miles up Wisconsin St. Since this is the home of the National Institute of Health there are a number of large buildings along Wisconsin St. We ride on the sidewalk once again to avoid the traffic.

The Korean War Memorial

The next day we take the Washington Metro into town and walk around Washington D.C. and see such sites as the Korean War Memorial with its ghost like sculptures.

I'm in love

Here I am with my new girl friend near our hotel.

31,616 feet of vertical - remember that it's all about the hills.
357 total miles

Send email with any comments or corrections to: tmacd1@gmail.com