I’m home now and the rest of the group has gone on to greater adventures further south. I wish them well.
My last couple of riding days were near pure pleasure.
On Monday we rode from Newark, DE to Havre de Grace Maryland. One of the challenges of riding a bike in Maryland is that the bridges are largely not bike-friendly. There is a “lower” bridge across the Susquehanna between Newark and Havre de Grace called the Hatem bridge that was set up for bikes to use last summer. It opened in July with great fanfare and infrastructure to support bikes crossing. But, less than 3 months later, they closed it to bikes except weekends/holidays. We were crossing on a Monday so we had to ride 20 miles out of our way and cross over the Conowingo Dam, a narrow 2-lane roadway with no shoulders.
Fortunately, when we got there we discovered that road construction was our friend! The workers were holding traffic to one lane which meant we were safe! No one would be trying to pass us! There wasn’t any opportunity to stop and take photos, but after a lovely crossing with friendly road sign holders, we turned south to go on the Lower Susquehanna trail.
This trail was more of a gravel based trail and it was covered with fallen leaves. It is a rails to trails one, but this is the first one I’ve ever been on in which the rails are still embedded. As soon as I saw that I slowed WAY down and took off my sunglasses so I could see the rails. They were parallel to the path of travel and absolutely treacherous. Even on my fatter tires, they would have been a fall danger.
Later that evening when we were all in at Havre de Grace, we discovered that our tandem couple had not seen them in time and taken a really bad fall. They were troopers though and while it might have slowed them a wee bit, it didn’t put them off their game much.
These are photos from the ride into Havre de Grace:
Some old stone houses awaiting restoration/conservation
This oak sheltered Lafayette during the American Revolution and later sheltered a Civil War cavalry unit. Rising Sun, MD
The remains of a flint furnace, all that is left of Stafford, MD. Part of porcelain production in Maryland from colonial times through the early 20th century.
The restored grist mill
When we arrived in Havre de Grace we were treated like royalty by the members of American Legion Post 47. Shirl, Joshua, and Kelly provided everything we needed and more. I think this was my favorite stay location. Being a veteran made it even more special.
In case you can’t read it, this is in the front hall at the Legion. It is a place setting for the soldier/airman/seaman who has not yet made it home. Poignant and beautiful.
The town of Havre de Grace was established/named by Lafayette during the American Revolution. In 1813 the British burned it, except for one building. So the town is “new” as opposed to the “old” Maryland towns that survived the British. Havre de Grace was the deep water port for a long time for this part of the watershed so it was a strategic target for the British. Even though the architecture is largely new (post 1813), I found much of it engaging and interesting.
The only structure that survived the fire. Rodgers House, dating from 1788. Home of John and Elizabeth Rodgers, parents of US Naval hero, Commodore John Rodgers, credited with firing the first shot of the war of 1812.
People in this town were very friendly and kind too and there were many opportunities to spend money on food, drink, and artwork.
The next day we rode to Annapolis via Baltimore. Curt rode with me much of the day so I took him “off route” to tour the Inner Harbor. It was so much fun watching him enjoy the sights. Leaving Baltimore we headed towards BWI and then Annapolis on great paved trails.
Along the way we saw Mike, who had split off to go see Fort McHenry. It was good we saw him because I was having a mechanical issue with my bike. The back brake was locking up. I called Brad at Green Lizard and he talked us through what was going on. With Mike’s strong hands we were able to fix it, and got back on the road.
As we rolled into Annapolis I had to take a photo of the Naval Academy crew on the river, and the academy across the bridge. What a beautiful town.
My new friend (we hadn’t met but had been emailing/texting/fbing through Women & Bicycles) Susan opened her home for showers as well as a shuttle to get there for the early team members. By the time I arrived we were ready to go out for dinner and she very kindly took me to her house to sleep in a real bed. THANK YOU SUSAN!
And finally, on Wednesday we rode from Annapolis to Reston. I’m glad I did the ride because now I know Annapolis is completely doable! I didn’t take photos because I was in a hurry. When I got to Eastern Market I jumped on the Metro so I could get home before the team arrived at 3 as planned.
Well, plans being what they are, some members of the team got to my house before I did, but Westy was a gracious host. He also grilled about a zillion burgers and kept providing more food for everyone. Curt’s cousin MaryAnn and her husband Ray, the parents of Matthew Burke (on our jerseys), came to join us for dinner. That was special to connect with the people whose son’s death was the inspiration for Curt’s ride.
Overall, I’m glad I did it. Each time I do one of these rides I learn more about what I like and don’t like about touring (distance, speed, etc.) that will help me make a good decision about my next adventure.
For now, the only organized riding on my horizon will be some day-long charity rides in October and November. I’ll try to keep up some daily miles though so as not to lose my ‘edge’.
But today is my 56th birthday and I’m going to relax and enjoy it.