Today it rained.
A "formal" breakfast at The Bavarian Inn was a pleasant surprise after waking up to see that rain had arrived over the Potomac, and the upscale restaurant was quite the sight with everyone in their biking gear. Our vouchers were golden tickets for anything on the menu, and so we all ate like kings. Eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits, creamed beef...all turned in to instant fuel.
Not everyone in our group was riding today, but I was determined to tackle our longest ride yet.
I headed back to the trail on my own, to get a bit of a head start on the 52-mile day. I wasn't exactly sure how to dress for a day in the rain and I decided to go minimal -- no rain gear. The trail was already soggy and riddled with puddles and it was harder to keep pace without a riding buddy. That didn't last long. Soon Dave caught up with me, and later Chris joined us on his sweep and stayed with us as the last in the group.
|Dam 4 on the Potomac River|
|The paved section at Big Slackwater|
I was somewhere beyond soaked, but somehow it was nice to just allow the rain to fall and not to have to worry about trying to stay clean and dry.
As we arrived in Williamsport, MD for lunch, the rain had let up, but a tree branch fell by the trail just after we passed it. We heard a couple of these throughout the day, and even moved a large fallen branch that had blocked the trail near the end.
We rode up to The Desert Rose Cafe, and I was a bit worried about walking inside, but the people there were so welcoming and accommodating of trail users! This was truly a wonderful business along the trail, they told us how business from the trail had allowed them to expand, and we also got to talk with several other riders from Pittsburgh who were traveling the opposite direction.
|Outside the Desert Rose Cafe|
|Lunch at the Desert Rose Cafe -- everyone else had cleaned up a bit.|
When we arrived in Fort Frederick, we were already in need of power bars. One thing about mud, it really makes you hungry. We explored the Fort, which was a nice break in the day, and incredibly interesting. The men dressed in period attire inside were very helpful and knowledgeable and even checked the weather for us -- tornado warnings, but thankfully not in our path. Also, I don't know how, but neither of them even commented on how incredibly muddy I was (not gentlemanly, I suppose).
|Muddy bikers invade Fort Frederick|
|Fort Frederick State Park, MD|
So we carried on, facing puddles head on and playing games to pass the time. We also saw a few things we would have missed if we would have gone on the other trail - a turtle and the remains of an old lock house.
|The turtle prince?|
|Victory at Hancock!|
Before checking in, I had to take the hose they were using to clean the bikes and spray myself on full blast just to get some of the mud off. Once I checked in, I had about 20 minutes to refresh before the shuttle would take us to Weaver's Restaurant and Bakery for dinner. Somehow I made it, rushing to the lobby with my shoes half on, and on the wrong feet.
Weaver's was a charming diner type restaurant with good food and service. A hot roast beef sandwich, baked potato and broccoli hit the spot after the long day, and on the way out I got to sample one of their famous raisin cookies.
|Weaver's, Hancock, MD|
|Blind taste tests for very berry (pictured) and caramel apple nut pies.|
In my room tonight, I rinsed all my muddy clothes and am drying them on the air conditioner vent, and for my pants I propped the hair dryer on the towel rack and ran it for almost an hour straight! Everything seems pretty dry for now, our longest day - 60 miles - tomorrow.