Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Rain: Day Three

I woke up at 5:30 to a heavy rain so I rolled over and caught another hour of sleep. Thankfully, by 6:30 the rain had stopped. I grabbed some breakfast and set off for the day. All of five minutes in my ride the rain started again and on went my garbage bag vest. I wasn’t looking forward to another day of rain, but there I was. At least I had different types of rain for the last three days. The first day the rain was cold and miserable, the second was like a guessing game as to when it would or wouldn’t rain and today, it was consistent throughout the morning.

I was still in the hill country, which I welcomed. Climbing up the hills generated some heat and kept me warm. The downside was, well, going down hill. The wind blowing on me as I was speeding downhill gave me the chills. It didn’t help when cars passed by and kicked up a spray in their wake. When an 18-wheeler passed by I was blinded by the mist. Also, each time I made a fist I wrung about an ounce of water out of each glove. When I stopped at traffic lights I noticed people watching me trying to dry my gloves. I wasn’t sure if they felt sorry for me or thought I was a moron for riding on a day like today.

As I rode along I found a bike shop. I stopped in as I needed brake pads. The break pads I had on my bicycle weren’t meant for wet conditions. The pads disintegrated quite quickly over the last two days and left little nubs in the place my brake pads used to be. Fortunately the shop had the break pads I was looking for and I was on my way. I later found out that the bike shop outfitted George Bush for a bike.

After leaving the bike shop the sun poked out through the clouds though I thought it was just a tease. Normally when I am riding I hate having to stop to get something out of my bike bag, but in this case stopping to get my sunglasses didn’t really bother me. The day was warming up quickly. I honestly didn’t think I would see my bare legs while riding for the rest of the trip, but there I was in near 70-degree temperatures pedaling along, working up a good sweat.

Riding through towns was growing to be a pain as I seemed to be catching all the red lights. The worst were the ones at the bottom of hills, as I lost all momentum going back up the other side. I tried my best to time the lights, but it didn’t always workout.

There was a bike path paralleling the road in the latter part the day. It was one of those paths that was segregated from the road, just the type I don’t like. It invariably happens that cars waiting to turn from a side street on to the main road, block the bike path. Either way I would have to stop or at least slow at every road crossing. Worst of all is when a car is on the main road moving in my direction of travel and makes a right turn in front of me. Either I am invisible or the driver pretends I am not there and just turns in front of me, forcing me to jam on the brakes. Just to continue my rant on bike paths, it seems that once a bike path is built it doesn’t get another second of attention from those who built it. It can collect an inch of sand or be covered in broken glass, riddled with potholes or whatever else, but it will stay that way. Drivers get angry that I don’t ride on the bike path, but if I could say my peace to them they might understand. Then again, maybe not.

Early in the afternoon I finished the day at my friend Paul’s house, just outside of Washington D.C.. Paul was one of the guys I did a section hike of the Appalachian Trail with in September 2007(there is a link to that trip in the Hike It! section of the web site), which I think was the last time I had seen him. I gave my bike a cursory cleanup at best and was done with it for another day.

Paul and I had some grand plans to catch the Washington Capitals hockey game that night. The Capitals were in the playoff hunt so we figured it would be an exciting game. We had an early steak dinner that would have even been too early for the early bird special at the Sizzler. It gave us time to make our way downtown and set up with some tickets for the game. The game turned out to be quite good and involved us having far too many cocktails, followed up by a few more cocktails after the game. In my travels it is always good to catch up with a friend. It was a great night out on the town, probably the best on my bike trip.

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