As soon as I left home, I thought, "How the hell did I pedal this heavy bitch all the way across the country?" It's been a year since I rode a loaded bike, and it felt heavier than I remembered. But I loaded it just the same way I did a year ago, spare tire on top of the rack which was on top of my tent, nestling a loaf of bread under the cargo net. And after some miles of the sun beating down on the bread, I had the same thoughts I did a year ago: Ahhh, a steamy hot loaf of bread, just as if it came out of the oven, only not even close. McKinley would approve.
Ten miles in I met a fella (Rich?) from the next town over. He was on his first ride in 2 years, on an old steel frame road bike with down tube shifters, and wore ancient leather road shoes. Relic! We rode together for maybe 30 minutes, and we discussed his ride down the Pacific Coast after college, my ride across the country, and his college-aged daughter wanting to do Bike and Build next summer.
The ride to Lambertville was magical. If I didn't take up cycling, I don't think I'd have a new found love for NJ. I keep finding gorgeous open land in this most densely-populated state in the nation. The route led me through beautiful farmland, and quiet country roads. And a lot of those 60 miles felt like western and central Oregon – my favorite state on the TransAm. Big, beautiful blue sky, a cool breeze, and the warm sun beating on my face. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride, even though I was pedaling through pain.
Rocket scooped me up in Lambertville, and we headed back to her house. The highlight of the night was finally tasting Rogue's collaboration with Voodoo Donuts' creation of bacon maple porter. I'm still not sure what I think of it, but I kept sipping it.
I decided to take a train home the next morning, it was the smart thing to do. I had this pain in my knee a few years ago, and it doesn't go away if you keep riding on it.
I drove to Baltimore and still spent a few days with McK and Andy. Many beers were drank, celebrations of a year anniversary of completing a ride across the country together ensued, and life stories were exchanged. We listened to records (Andy doesn't do technology) and we chatted for hours. It was awesome to see those fools, and even better knowing my road dog lives 600 miles closer now. In bike time, we're 3-4 days apart, rather than 2-3 weeks.
Though my trip didn't go as planned, I was not upset. It gave me a little down time at home, which is something I haven't had in months.