Both Maddi and I slept much better last night. Apparently tubing takes a lot out of you. Or maybe it was the robust campfire, or our new friend Todd. Finally up and around at about 8:00, we enjoyed a leisurely morning that featured a pancake breakfast.
We were glad to roll out for a full day of riding. Stopping short last night meant we had some miles to make up on our final day. Originally scheduled as our shortest day on the bike, it now would be the longest. But, not so fast. The first 16 miles included lots of these brutal mud pits on the trail.
Folks, I cannot emphasize the danger of these things enough. We’re on a tandem with essentially slick tires that are not designed for this. Admittedly it was a miscalculation on my part, but I really didn’t anticipate how much of this stuff there could be. The bike plus gear is around 100 pounds, plus two riders. It’s like driving a semi through a slalom course with slick tires on ice. Besides crashing, the main risk is “taco-ing” the front wheel….the bike slides in one direction and then finally catches at an angle, with all the weight and momentum hitting the front wheel at an angle. We only had two really close calls, and we obviously lived to tell about it.
The initial 16 miles of mud took us about two hours and was taxing both mentally and physically. Once we cleared it though, we made great progress. Our speed shot up (okay well only up to about 15 mph) and we cruised comfortably. Heat was still high, but the humidity was lower.
We stopped at Great Falls Park and took in the amazing views of the Potomac, ate lunch, and rehydrated. It was a long and hard-earned break.
Less than 15 miles to go! Madeline decided to start counting turtles sunning themselves on logs in the canal next to us. The trail condition steadily improved, and our spirits soared as we neared our destination.
We made it into Washington safely, and when we turned the corner from K Street onto 17h, I said “Hey Madeline, look at that….it’s the White House.” “Sweet!!!,” she said. We rolled up, dismounted, and promptly laid down in the grass.
After a nice little break, we pedaled up the Rock Creek Trail to our host’s house just north of the National Zoo. Cleaned up and cooled off, we took the Metro in to DC to see some of the monuments. We enjoyed delicious pizza, then walked around a bit. I was soooooo happy to be able to share this experience with my daughter, and to watch her light up as she saw this great city for the first time.
I’m so proud of her! In total, 105 miles, all very challenging. Camping is hard work too, and we endured some really tough riding conditions with heat and humidity. Our final day was 43 1/2 miles from Marble Quarry hiker biker site to Washington.
Thanks for reading. I’ll post about gear soon, but first I have a lot of cleaning to do.