Posted by: robinson2000 | August 11, 2012

Leaving Lovely Washington

9th – 10th

With much reluctance, we bid farewell to our dormitory and snuck out early whilst everyone else was still asleep, well almost as we’d made a bit of a racket on exit. A few blocks south of the hostel, we found a nice diner to enjoy our breakfast and plan a route for the day. The ACA route seemed to take us on an unnecessarily long loop out of Washington DC so with some fiddling, I managed to set a 60 mile ride that arrived at a campsite 85 miles away, had we followed ACA’s route. Riding out of Washington was incredible as we pedalled past the White House down to the Washington Monument, then east past the stunning Lincoln Memorial and over a bridge to Arlington Cemetery. It then bizarrely took us through the car park of the Pentagon before bringing us out on a lovely bike path that ran for 15 miles along the banks of the River Potomac and ending at George Washington’s birthplace, Mt Vernon. It was an excellent way to exit DC and with the sun hot above us, we crossed into our 10th State, Virginia.

After leaving the quiet and leafy bike path, we turned South on to Highway 1, which we would ride on for the rest of the day. Unfortunately this road was massive, with sometimes 4 lanes going each way, which made riding very tough as the shoulder was non-existent. The drivers were also quite impatient in some cases and didn’t bother giving you much space to ride. This coupled with the scorching temperatures and zero shade made for a challenging few hours, but on the plus side the road was smooth and the miles ticked by very quickly. By 2pm we had stopped for lunch at a restaurant where we met our first tourer of the trip. The guy pedalled over when he saw us and the first thing he said before he even introduced himself was “F**k the ACA man!” in a loud New Jersey accent. Once we told him where we were going he proclaimed that we were officially awesome and we all fist bumped. He was on a mammoth journey himself, starting in New Jersey and cycling across the country to California. As he pedalled into the distance he shouted “keep the rubber down”, whatever that meant, and left us to our sandwiches.

We finished the day with ten more miles to Fredericksburg and found our campsite that turned out to be an outdoor centre for scout groups. They kindly accepted us anyway and charged us only $7 each for a pitch by the river, which we swam in before cooking dinner. The heat of the day still hadn’t subsided by the time we’d gone to bed as the temperature inside the tent was extreme. Neither of us slept well as in desperation to get some air inside the tent we had opened the fly-sheet up but of course this meant that we were mauled by the mosquito’s all night.

At 7.20am the following morning, we were both dozing, listening to the rain come down outside of the tent when we heard this big voice yelling at us through the tent.

“Are you the bikers?” – he said.

“Yes” – we replied in our drowsy states.

“Then what the hell do you think you’re doing taking a shower in the office”- he boomed.

Without even a moment to reply he went on.

“Jesus Christ, you guys have caused so much trouble. That’s the last time I let bikers in to my site. I’ve almost fired the girl who let you in here. Get your shit together and get off my property.”

We were both completely confused by his angry rant as we lay there listening. Chris, who had experienced a dreadful night’s sleep, then jumped out of the tent in all his glory wearing only his boxers and exhibiting his pasty white body and deep tan lines and yelled at the guy to come back. He then gave him a mouthful back as yes, we had used the upstairs shower the previous evening as it was the only one in the visitors centre, but it was a completely honest mistake and the man was completely unreasonable. The guy stormed off and that was the last we saw of him as we packed away the tent and cycled to a coffee shop to catch breakfast.

The day only got better from there as the terrain was wonderfully flat and by 2pm we had done 50 miles along quiet back roads where we hardly saw a soul. At one point I got chased by two small dogs who tried to nip at my rear tyre and sadly we cycled past a small dead kitten that been hit by a car. We stopped for lunch at a Denny’s diner and consumed 2 milkshakes each and a burger. Afterwards, I found a good bike shop to repair a busted spoke that had popped out on the mornings ride and then we found a KOA Campground at the 65 mile mark, just short of Richmond. Satisfied with our efforts we pitched up and soaked our weary muscles in the swimming pool. An excellent way to end a day that had begun with an angry man shouting at us through our tent after the worst night’s sleep ever, and then having to leave our campsite without a shower or even a cuppa.

Total Mileage : 1081

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