Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bike America Day 65: Reminiscing in Harper's Ferry

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Day's distance: 67.38 miles
Overall distance: 3,448 miles

When I woke up on Thursday morning, I felt nauseous, tired and weak. I hadn't had too much wine the night before but it was almost as if I was hungover. I had drank less water than normal the day before, and eaten a small dinner so I think even a small bit of alcohol really hit me. Whatever it was, I definitely wasn't in the mood to ride a bike. That being said, I knew it was our second to last day of Bike America and I wanted to enjoy myself.

We were very slow to get ready in the morning and, despite waking up at 7am, didn't begin riding until after 9:30. From the start, it was a sunny day but we were shaded on the trail. I felt cool at first and that helped with my nausea. I also tried to drink lots of water. At mile 18, we rode by Dam 5 and read the history lesson associated with it. During the civil war, Stonewall Jackson had tried to damage the Union's access to the canal by blowing up parts of this dam. They failed and the canal continued to be of great use to the union soldiers.

At mile 25, a little after noon, we arrived in Williamsport, MD and rode up a hill into town for lunch and coffee. I ate the turkey and tomato sandwich I'd packed but bought an iced tea and a mango smoothie at the cafe in town to go with it.

Back on the bikes after lunch, I felt rejuvenated by the refreshments. We rode about ten more miles and arrived at a "towpath closed" sign. There was a six mile detour on "dangerous" roads with "no shoulder". We weren't worried. After the initial climb away from the trail, the detour was wonderful. It made me realize how much I missed riding on roads. That's one downside of the trail- we're missing a view of what Maryland's country roads look like. In those six miles we saw some beautiful houses, impressively large cornfields, and old stone buildings. Toward the end of the detour, there was a sign that read "Bikers: steep hill, dismount bikes". I said to my dad, these people don't know who they're talking to. We've ridden up and down mountains and they think a little hill down toward the Potomac River was too steep? Ha!

Eight miles later, we met my mom who had ridden toward us from the end town. The three of us rode about 15 miles together and then arrived at a railroad bridge across the river from Harpers Ferry, WV, where we'd be spending the night. We walked our bikes across the bridge and took a picture of me standing in West Virginia on the Appalachian Trail. I had never set foot on the trail and it was on of my 25 before 25 goals. I didn't quite squeeze it in before my birthday but I'm still calling it a success. Now I'm motivated to come back and actually go for a hike.

Also, we were in Virginia without an official state sign to prove it. Still, that's state number 13 even though it wasn't originally part of our plan.

We went to our motel to shower and then went into town for dinner. We ate on the back patio of the Tavern at the Town's Inn, a restaurant claiming to feature civil war era cuisine. The food was good but they were out of a lot of things and the portions were unbelievably massive. I got bbq pulled pork with a salad and a side of seasonal veggies and potato. They were also very apologetic for the things they were missing and gave us an entire free 1.5L bottle of wine after serving us three glasses filled to the rim. That's one thing we've noticed this summer, the restaurants that seemingly don't know much about wine serve you A LOT of it. The terrace was cute and we met a couple from DC who'd taken the train up for the weekend. Harper's Ferry is a cute town and I loved that so many of the old houses are lived in as people's homes today, my one complaint was how early things shut down.

Now I'm sitting in the EconoLodge in a sort of disbelief that we will be riding our bikes into Washington, DC tomorrow. Earlier in the trip, when we talked about that moment, it made me feel like crying to think about it. Not because I was sad exactly but because it just felt so huge, it warranted a lot of emotion. At this moment, though, I don't feel like crying. I am really excited to see Josh and my friends and to sit on my couch in my apartment. I'm excited to go to the farmer's market and cook food, to lie around watching TV, to walk around Cleveland Park and to go for a run up Mass Ave. I'm ready to start my new job and I'm even excited to clean my apartment and to be a little bit more domestic. But I'm also feeling nostalgic about the summer and it hasn't even ended. I reminisced with my parents at dinner and, when this is over, I don't want it to seem like a far-off dream. Because this life has been so different than my life at home. Out here on the road, it's been hard to imagine my civilized, working life in DC so I expect that when I'm back in the swing of that life, it will be hard to imagine the day to day of Bike America. Even though they're worlds apart, though, I know that I will never forget this adventure and will always cherish all the happy and frustrating memories I've made with my parents. 

It is late and I should get some sleep so that I can embrace every one of our last 61 miles tomorrow. I'm sure there will be more sentimental thoughts to come, especially after the ride is officially over. I can't say exactly how I'll feel tomorrow morning and especially tomorrow at 5pm when we plan to ride into Georgetown. But I will say that this entire thing has been one of the greatest adventures of my life. Tomorrow I will have ridden my bike from Washington to Washington and I am proud of that. Here's to one more healthy day of happy, energetic pedaling!

This is where we'll begin our final day into DC...


  1. I can't wait to see you later today! I loved loved reading your blog and hearing your stories. Congratulations on such an amazing accomplishment!

    Also, random fact, I have been to that tavern in Harpers Ferry and ate under that exact rock-wall. It was a great place.


  2. What an amazing journey it's been! You're incredible!! :)