I got a really late start today. I only planned to ride about 32 miles and thought I didn’t really need to get started early. The first stop was at the bike shop again to have my brakes looked at. I have noticed the past couple of days that my stopping power is pretty bad. They had to replace the rear brake pads and adjusted the front brakes.
Before leaving Cumberland, I stopped at a place called the Fruit Bowl hoping they would have some Diet Pepsi. Despite the name, the store was at least 75% candy, mostly pick-a-mix. I haven’t seen pick-a-mix in years. I got the Diet Pepsi, along with some locally made chocolate covered peanut butter squares. Delicious.
I actually got an early start this morning, leaving the campground a little after 8:00. I only rode a little bit to the next town called Little Orleans where they were supposed to have a store of some sort. Turns out, it is part cafe and part convenience store. Unfortunately, the cafe did not serve breakfast and the store did not have much selection. I ended up getting a packages sweet roll for breakfast. While I was eating, an eastbound cyclist pulled up. We chatted for a bit and he guaranteed that the GAP was a much nicer riding surface, drains better and is not covered in mud. I guess I will found out. Because it has not rained since yesterday morning, the canal trail started to dry out in places. Other places still have plenty of mud, though.
Everything is wet and muddy. It rained again early this morning, pretty hard. It has rained every day since I’ve been on the C&O Canal, not necessarily while I was riding, but at some point during the day. I used this morning’s rain as an excuse to sleep in. By the time I got up, everything was wet and muddy. I also went into Sharpsburrg to look for a grocery store. All I found was another convenience store. I really need to find a real grocery store. Between sleeping in and riding into Sharpsburg, I got a really late start.
With the short day, I took the opportunity to check the map for a route into Washington other than highway 1. I found the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. From Google maps, it looked like it had a shoulder, but it is a limited access highway, so I wasn’t sure bicycles were allowed. I also checked the Strava heatmap, which shows what routes local cyclists take. None of the popular routes on Strava would take me into Washington and it didn’t look like locals ride on the Parkway. I watched for signs very carefully as I entered the Parkway. I saw a couple signs prohibiting trucks, but nothing about bicycles. It turned out to be a great option with a wide shoulder, no big trucks and no stoplights. Some of the off and on ramps were tricky to navigate, but other than that it was just about perfect. I ended up getting into DC in about an hour and a half. I wonder what the drivers must have thought of seeing someone on a loaded down bicycle riding the Parkway, bopping my shoulders to the music on the radio (dance, dance, dance, yeah). I must have been quite a sight.
It was raining when I got on the road this morning, not heavy, just enough to wet the ground. After I got through Baltimore, the sun came out, the temperature rose and with all the moisture in the air, I was soaked with sweat within half an hour. I was wetter once the sun came out than I ever was in the morning. I kept stopping every five or six miles to find some shade to cool off and dry out. It made for slow going. I think the humidity finally got to me because I made it a half day instead of a full day. I was close enough to Washington that I probably could have made the whole distance today, but stopped about 20 miles northeast of the capital.