What you should expect from a long bicycle journey
Bicycle touring for a sustained period of time is a…
Long post today playing catch up!
Day 6 – Lewes, DE – Snow Hill, MD (54 miles)
After getting the ferry from Cape May, I arrived in Lewes, DE around 90 minutes later. Passing through, it was a similar story to Cape May. I’m sure in season it’s buzzing, but in mid-November, on a weekday, it was really quiet.
To be honest, it wasn’t the most enjoyable start to the day. My legs were pretty achey and the places I was cycling through in Delaware (after Lewes) weren’t welcoming. There were a lot of “Get the hell out of here” looks. No way was I going to be attempting to stay overnight stealth-style as it didn’t feel out of the question to wake up to an angry farmer with a shotgun in my face. It became a race to make fast progress at this point.
And then I crossed the Delaware border into Maryland. Ah, thanks Maryland! It’s amazing how quickly the atmosphere of a place can change in such a short distance.
Pulled into Berlin, MD, around 6.00pm, and was hit by the quaint, homely feel of the town. Met a bunch of cool people on the main street (Hi Terry, Shelly & Billy – that’s a lot of y’s). It’s like a model town. Plus it was dinner time, which is always a joy after spending hours on the saddle. Got a burrito in a local Mexican eatery, and then set off to cycle on. But I probably got about 200 metres down the road, until spotting Rayne’s Reef, an amazing looking diner place, and went in for a coke. What I love about this trip so far is spontaneously meeting people. Bumped in to these cheeky lot in Rayne’s Roof, it was a lot of fun and turned an okay day into a great one.
After a good time in Berlin, I pedalled on through the night, arriving at the historical Snow Hill at around 10.00pm. There wasn’t anywhere obvious to stealth it that I could see. A few people before this trip began mentioned sleeping at churches & fire stations, so upon passing the Snow Hill Volunteer Fire Service, I decided to give it a try. But no-one was in. So I went into ‘discreet mode’ i.e. no tent, and settled for the night in between some very well sculptured trees in the Fire Station garden, waking up at first light to keep heading south. Luxury, eh? The morning after the night before:
Day 7 – Snow Hill, MD – Cape Charles, VA (80 miles)
First light. The first time I’ve been up and ready to go at the start of the day. Perfect opportunity to get a full day in. It was cold, so the layers came out to warm up. The day started off with really nice riding. Flat roads through amazing autumnal forest landscapes.
After a couple of hours I wheeled in to Pocomoke City, just above the border into Virginia, or on the outskirts at least. Lethargy on the bike hasn’t been an issue until this point. Pulled into an eatery and just zoned out for about an hour and half. Half sleep, half awake, a bit bizarre. It was good to refill water bottles and charge the bike light. The staff were entertained by my English accent, requesting many times ‘Sorry, could you say that again?’ just for amusement purposes.
Made the border of Virginia shortly after that, and ended up cycling in samey-looking farmland for 2 hours, until reaching Accomack as the light was at its best, where I fell off into a ditch, forgetting to unclip. Classy. Said ditch:
It was a strange day in terms of taking a lot of long-ish breaks, but really stretching the day out starting from early to late.
Pulled into Cape Charles around 11.00pm again (seems to be a recurring theme), after cycling through the dark for a few hours. Friday night and it was totally quiet at the harbour area, but windy so not the best place to sleep. So I looked on the GPS and saw that there was a massive park really close, so cycled over there, and found a really un-subtle place to stay by the side of the river. Decided to try to be as discreet as possible by bivying (no tent) on the grass, and hide the bike down nearer to the edge of the river, setting up alarms that would give off a piercing tone if anyone moved it. (Needn’t have been concerned though as three people in Cape Charles have mentioned that there is no crime here whatsoever).
Quick thoughts on night riding / attempting this project in winter:
Day 8 – Cape Charles, VA (0 miles)
The alarm clock on my phone went off at 6.15am, ready to move on and head for the Chesapeake tunnel bridge before being discovered. Yesterday must have taken it’s toll, as the first thing I did when the alarm clock buzzed was to turn it off, and continue to sleep until 10.
Continued to pack up the sleeping kit and went to put the panniers back on the bike. Had a little moment:
Ah no the bike alarm! Totally forgot about it, I’ve just moved the bike and now it’s going off at roughly a million decibels, it’s not helping add to the discreetness of the situation.
Silenced the alarm after some frantic moments, and went on to explore, going down to the beach (amazing to be blasted by the Atlantic breeze) and bumping into the mayor of Cape Charles, Dora, who is amazing and contagiously positive. A snippet below:
Chilling out now in Cape Charles. After a week on the saddle, today will be the first full day off, time to rest and catch up on sleep before setting out again tomorrow. I was at a lunch place earlier and bumped into a great guy called Ned who manages the very snazzy Hotel Cape Charles. It closes in a couple of weeks once the fishing season finishes. He told some great stories about Cape Charles at one point, around WW2, being the railroad hub of the Northern US and that it buzzed all year round with people, as it does now in the summer, but no longer does in winter. Incredible generosity once again, as he is providing a room for the night. Kind of mind-blowing really. Looking forward to washing clothes, getting clean and starting fresh tomorrow.
In terms of how body and bike are doing after a week – fine to be honest. No punctures or mechanical issues so far, bike is still running smoothly. Body is okay too. Saddle no longer an issue, it’s gone from a pain to more of a comfort – I didn’t believe the reports (who does?) but Brooks saddles really are comfy! The only thing is slightly sore legs after the bigger days, but it’s only a numb soreness and goes away quickly once setting off.
Oh yeah, one last thing, the guy from Hustle now has a new job apparently: