Wednesday, March 05, 2008
We hit 2 new milestones today - we traveled further south than we have ever been on the bike, and we entered our 5th state! The weather report the night before indicated a tornado watch and flood warnings, but we only had a heavy rain which stopped by morning. The clouds quickly left and we had another bright, sunny day.
After the difficult time we had yesterday, getting lost in the DC streets, we didn't want to repeat that mistake by getting lost in the Arlington, VA streets during rush hour. So, we decided to take the bike trails instead, even though we knew it would be longer. We figured it would also be easier and less frustrating since we would almost certainly get lost and have to battle a lot of traffic if we went through Arlington. We ended up going 13 miles longer than planned, but it was definitely worth it. We started with the Crescent Trail, a beautiful trail that we picked up very close to Esther and Stan's condo, where we stayed last night. This was a bit of nostalgia for us, since it was the way we took to the C&O canal on our bike trip in Oct. 2006. The Cresent and the C&O trails join up at Fletcher's Cove which we went by.
We followed the Crescent Trail down to the Francis Scott Key Bridge in the Georgetown section of Washington and took it into Arlington, VA. Rush hour traffic was in full swing and we were glad to be watching it from the walkway on the bridge. There were great views of Georgetown, the Potomac, and Arlington from there.
From that point, we took the Mt. Vernon bike trail, instead of taking our planned route through the Arlington city streets, down to Route 1. The trail was beautiful - we had great views of various landmarks in DC across the Potomac. We lingered along the route, taking pictures and enjoying the scenery. At one point, we reached a fork in the trail and were uncertain which way to go. A friendly gent stopped to ask us if we needed help and proceeded to explain in great detail what was available down each fork. We took his advice and went down the fork that took us into Alexandria's Old Town, which had great little shops and cafes. Very quaint. We came to a detour in the trail, and again were helped out by a friendly local on a recumbent bike who told us exactly how to get around the detour and back on the trail.
We arrived at Mt. Vernon in time for lunch and met 2 other bikers, Jeanette and Will, who admired our bike and stopped to chat. Jeanette was about to go off on her own adventure, a 6-month tour in Iraq on an R&R mission with USO, supporting the soldiers. We applauded her bravery and generosity. They estimated Fredericksburg, our destination for that night, to be about 50 miles away and since it was already noon, we figured we ought to get going! So we missed sight-seeing another great place.
The rest of the trip, straight down Route 1 to Fredericksburg, was not so pleasant - the traffic was very heavy and there was no shoulder to speak of, so it was pretty nerve-wracking having cars whiz by us close enough to touch. Besides that, the road was one rolling hill after another. Most of them weren't too bad, and we could build up enough momentum on the downhill to take us up a fair way on the uphill. It was a bit encouraging that the hills didn't seem too tiring, although it got very tedious dealing with the hills and the traffic. Having had the delightful experience on the trails earlier, though, helped keep our spirits up until we finally arrived at our hotel at 6:45, in the dark. We ended up being on the road almost 12 hours, doing about 74 miles in almost 7 and 1/2 hours of bike time.