Posted by: robinson2000 | August 10, 2012

Resting In Washington DC

7th – 8th August

After a very broken and sweltering night’s sleep in the tent, we crawled to the shower room and blasted ourselves awake under the faucet. It didn’t matter though as we were only 50 miles short of Washington DC and the promise of a soft bed and an air-conditioned hostel were enough to raise our spirits. After two cereal bars and a quick cuppa, we set off back to Highway 40 that runs west out of Baltimore. With no breakfast diner in mind we pedalled out the early miles with stiff legs and aching muscles until we found the Trolley Stop, which served an expensive but filling breakfast.

Now the day could truly begin but not before I’d recalculated a route to take us directly in to DC, rather than expel valuable energy and time on the long dog-leg route that the ACA had marked out. Although my new route was shorter in mileage, it was still very tricky to navigate until we hit Highway 185, which was a big 6 lane road that ploughed straight into the heart of the capital. The road was very intimidating to ride on with a narrow shoulder and heavy traffic constantly coming past you but to be fair to the drivers they gave us space and we only received a couple of honks.

With ten miles left till until my GPS device told me I would be at the White House, I stopped for a break at the side of the road to wait for Chris who was feeling especially tired after the now 15 days of riding. I waited and waited for a long time, as car after car streamed by with no sign of Chris. Thoughts danced in my mind of had he got lost, had he fallen off, had he stopped for a break? After 30 minutes I turned heel and reluctantly began pedalling back the way I had come. A few miles back I found him repairing a puncture that he had picked up from a huge nail, left on the side of the road. He had actually fixed it by the time I showed up so we got under way again and began crossing off the miles as we followed the heavy stream of traffic in to the city.

It was a wonderful feeling to have reached our first major milestone and as we neared Downtown, we kept catching glimpses of the Washington Monument. I was absolutely starving by this time and before I could even contemplate finding our hostel, I dived in to my much loved Pot Belly Sandwiches food chain and devoured a tuna sandwich and a milkshake. We found our hostel, DC Lofty, over on 11th street, a few blocks North of where we had stayed the previous year. The place was nice enough but it was going through some serious renovations so everywhere seemed a bit dirty and there were piles of workman’s stuff everywhere. Still it was a roof over our heads and more importantly a place to rest and let our muscles recover. It also gave us the chance to wash our damp stinking clothing and feel accepted as a normal human being, instead of looking like these smelly, sweaty, lycra-clad excuses for humans that we had become. In the launderette the main language was Spanish, or in our case, Spanglish, as we fumbled around with the washing and drying machines as a group of bemused Hispanic women watched on. That evening, we treated ourselves to a visit to Capitol City Brewery, an excellent bar/restaurant that we had both visited the previous year and it was still as good as ever. Amber Waves beer flowed freely all evening as we ate like pigs at the bar and watched the American highlights of the Olympics.

The next morning, after be woken far too early by a noisy gaggle of girls in our dormitory who thought it would be a good idea to play Salsa tracks at 7am, we headed out to a breakfast diner and enjoyed a relaxing start to our day. The plan was to simply relax, but at the same time we were in Washington DC with a host of spectacular sights to see. We stripped the bikes down so they were carrying no extra weight and had a leisurely ride round all the main sights such as the White House, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, The Jefferson Memorial, and Capitol Hill. We’d both seen and been inside all the sights before so it was great to leisurely cycle around and not have the pressure of having to see everything. We broke the cycling up with lunch at Pot Belly Sandwiches and I then took myself off for a quick visit to the Natural History Museum to see the new giant snake exhibition and also managed to catch an exhibition of award winning nature photography.

We both felt a lot more refreshed by the end of the day and ready to face the next set of cycling, moving out of Maryland and into Virginia.

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