Monday, August 11, 2014

Playing Catch Up

Day two was almost as rainy and tense as was day 1.  I don’t mind riding through the rain.  It’s the cagers I can’t stand.  I keep a wide distance between me and the car in front of me when the road is wet.  I do tis for two reasons; to avoid the road spray from their tires and especially because I have far less contact patch in two narrow tires than cages, so stopping in a short distance is risky in the rain.  Cagers see my caution as an opportunity to dart into my lane on front of me in an impatient attempt at gaining a precious eight feet of space that my bike occupies.  I knew the risks before I left, so I just turn up the music and breathe as I make my way across country.

My route took me north out of Kentucky into Virginia.  I purposely took the more scenic Cumberland Parkway, which added a few more miles, but the scenery was well worth it.  Cruising the rolling hills and sweeping turns provided a relaxing respite from the tension I felt in the rain.  I dialed up the Rush folder from my GPS’ mp3 player, stretched out with my feet on the highway pegs, and let Hester do the rest.

This was coal country and mines are sprinkled across the landscape as evidenced by coal conveyors stretching across the roads sometimes fifty feet or higher over the pavement.  At several intersections, people were taking cash donations for coal out of work worker families.  I was at a gas stop donning my rain gear and had a short conversation with a coal worker, or maybe a former one.  He was a burly man with a thick beard and belly to match.  I noticed he wore suspenders and a belt.  On the back window of his flatbed truck was an Obama sticker with a large X scratched across the infamous O logo.  He noticed me grinning when I saw it and for some reason, I felt obligated to say something.  “I like your sticker”, I said.  “I used to like the man” he replied, adding “voted for the sonofabitch twice”.  I couldn’t help myself.  “You couldn’t see it coming? He never hid the fact that he planned to erase the coal industry.”  He explained that his union said that he and his co-workers were safe.  That’s a tough lesson to learn; if it was even truly learned.  After all, he did say he voted for Obama twice.

The last few hours of my ride into the Washington DC area were dry and uneventful.  I followed my GPS as it led me across the beltway and into the heart of Washington DC until it signaled the end of my route…in the middle of a city block with no hotel in sight.  I have no idea what happened, but I have to eat the blame.  After all, these things don’t program themselves.  I found a spot to safely pull over and check the paper copy of my hotel reservation and realized that it was over thirty miles away.  Thirty Washington DC miles.  Just getting outside the beltway took an hour, even on a Saturday afternoon.  I arrived at my hotel near Reston at about 8:30 Saturday evening and what was supposed to be a 760 mile day, turned out to be 820.  The hotel had a nice restaurant, but it was one of those that had a meal of the day.  In this case it was some kind of fish and included mushrooms.  Strike one and two.  It was also $24.00.  Strike three.  I walked across the street to the Exxon station and bought two hotdogs for $2.  I was too tired to write anythi8ng, which you saw in the previous post.  I hadn’t eaten or drank anything but water (and one 5-Hour energy shot) since the night before at the Awful Waffle, so those were some damn good hot dogs!  4:00am would come early.  I hit the sheets and out instantly.