June 18th 2004
day of cycling! Lovely escape route from Washington on the Vernon Trail
- winding alongside the Potomac. I dipped my wheels in the Potomac (it's
salty and tidal here so it's as good as the sea), wobbling on the edge of an
unexpected did in the river, and then headed for the
Pacific. We passed Mount Vernon, George Washington's country estate, which
was heaving with tourists. We had a long way still to go so we zoomed
passed, stopping only for food - and discovering the multi-shop fast food
centre right next to the Mount Vernon site. The weather was very hot -
in the 90s Fahrenheit. We then headed along route 1 towards Fredericksburg.
This was a poor road for cycling, with very heavy traffic, often stationary,
very humid, very hot and not much space for cyclists. What have we done?!
Well, actually, it was bad, but it was what you should expect getting
out of a capital city in the country dominated by cars! There's no easy
direct route south out of Washington DC it seems. The traffic was moving
very slowly and it was the classic situation where the motorist stuck
in the jam gets a bit irate because a cyclist can go faster than the over-engineered
but evolutionarily redundant piece of metal s/he's sitting in. After about
80 miles (which I'd estimated at about 50 when looking at the map! whoops!)
we got to Fredericksburg and a (Best Western - c. 80 dollars) motel. The
motel was surprisingly expensive - though the cheapest we could find -
on an Interstate junction too. We can't afford this as a spend-rate! Today,
we hoped, was not to be typical. Today demonstrated the regular experience
throughout the transAm trip of going from sweaty and dirty, an oil stained
dischevelled traveller, to clean, bathed and civilised within minutes.
The Americans seem, generally, unperturbed by a mud and sweat streaked
cyclist turning up asking for a room and stressing cheapness.