Back to Day 18

3 PM

Sitting on the grass on the Mt. Vernon bike trail, just south of DC, heading to Alexandria. I am sitting because I just had a major blowout on my rear tire. It made an awesome sound, like a gunshot. We had a tire blowout on the Burley baby trailer when Katie was about 2 or 3. Dana, Bill and I all froze, thinking it was a gunshot. Katie slept through the whole thing. She definitely inherited her daddy’s sleeping talents.

If we were going to have a blowout, this was the perfect spot. On a trail, no traffic, 35 miles into a 40 mile day. Dana is fixing it. I could probably do it if I had to, but he’s willing, so I’m blogging.

When we looked at the maps this morning, we thought it was maybe 15-20 miles to DC. It ended up being 30, probably because we were on a bike trail, not a road. The Rock Creek Trail is beautiful, but it’s windy and narrow and covered with debris. I think we crossed Rock Creek around 12 times. And sometimes we emerged onto a main road, and we rode through a soccer field parking lot, and we made a few wrong turns. It was technically challenging riding, and the first time on this adventure where I was more comfortable than Dana.

We had been warned about a nasty place on the trail where you have to cross a main road, and since that was written, they built this awesome bridge!


Anyway, after 30 miles we got to the mall in DC, and both of us mutterred “food carts” and we rode another 2 miles along the mall in search of falafel


and ice cream.


The mall was packed with wholesome family units and day camps. The day camp kids tend to be color-coded, and I am proud to say that we didn’t hit the blue ones, the orange ones, the hot pink tutu wearing ones, or the multi-shirted ones running around randomly, just begging to be hit.

We met a father and son, clearly on a bike tour, and asked them where they were going, Turns out they are from Pittsburgh, and had just finished riding from Pittsburgh to DC. They were heading to Union Station to catch a train home. And we both thought, “Damn! We could have planned to ride from Westford to DC. It still would have been cool, it still would have been a huge adventure and accomplishment, and we would be done by now.”

Damn damn damn…

We took some mandatory tourist pictures of the Capitol


and the Washington Monument


and the Arlington Memorial Bridge to Virginia


After we crossed the bridge, we stopped in at Arlington National Cemetery. They had a memorial service for my Uncle Dave there on Monday, but sadly we arrived 2 days late. We didn’t walk to his grave because it was about a mile in, but at least we visited.


Then we found the bike trail to Mt. Vernon, and here we are, changing a tire. Now we have to buy another tire and tube, to be ready for the next blowout.

6 PM

In a tapas bar in historic Alexandria, watching the World Cup. It turns out that Alexandria is a bike-friendly city, and as we rode in on the trail, we immediately saw a sign for a bike shop. They were very nice, very impressed with our adventure, and we now have a new spare tire and tube.

Tomorrow we will ride through all of Alexandria. It seems a shame to be here and not see anything just to put in more miles. And after that we will ride through Mt. Vernon, and stay a motel just outside of Mt. Vernon. A very short day, but again, it’s a shame not to see these places while we can. This is what I meant by less biking, more touring. Two things I’m looking forward to tomorrow are dinner with my cousin Laurie, and the laundry room at our motel. Another reason for the short day tomorrow is that it sets us up better for riding around Quantico the next day, which is supposed to be a depressingly boring, service-free ride through nowhere. Then we will move onto Fredricksburg and Richmond, two places we are looking forward to seeing.

On to Day 20