Since my previous update from Maine, we’ve been heading south and west along the Adventure Cycling Association’s Atlantic route as we return to DC, to close the loop on our Eastern Tour route.
Cycling through southern Maine was beautiful but busy. The crossing of New Hampshire however was a nightmare – heavy traffic, terrible road conditions and difficult navigation, making this day, day 19 of our tour, the hardest and most frustrating. For me this was definitely the low point of the trip. I wrote in my diary “At least it wasn’t raining” which just about sums up the day. Still we managed 103 miles heading south and the campsite in the woods where we finished that night was one of the best. Keep pedaling, as the mantra goes, and things will get better.
Connecticut was the next State on our route. And boy was it hilly. Endless waves of steep, punchy climbs that we grimaced our way up and flew down with wide grins. Excellent scenery to match and little traffic made for some excellent cycling. This theme continued into New York State and New Jersey State, although both have been less hilly than CT.
Amongst all of this we challenged ourselves to have a big day on the bikes, to see how far we could go, so on day 21 of our tour we rode 132 miles. A tremendous day leaving us pretty exhausted that night at camp. We still chat about the encounter we had out west with the ultralight bike tourer who managed 160 miles so we’re still a little short, but this helped inspire us along.
These past three days have been amongst the best of the tour and indeed, amongst the best days cycling period.
Today we almost hit the 2,000 mile barrier on this tour (about 3 miles short) so that feels good. We may have a beer this evening to celebrate. It also means we have “only” around 300 miles to go back to DC and should be home by Sunday!
Today we’re setting off again, picking up the pieces from the aborted No Rest Out West bike tour and beginning a new ride up the eastern seaboard. We’re cycling from home this time, leaving right from the front door after breakfast. I love tours that start and end at home – there’s something about the purity of the route when it doesn’t involve any other mechanised transport, only the power of one’s legs and the bicycle.
We’re going with a much lighter setup this time, partly to avoid the unstable bike setup we had out west and partly to allow us to travel further each day. Whether we can uphold our side of this deal and actually pedal further each day remains to be seen, but we’ll give it our best shot. We’re both champing at the bit to get out there and challenge ourselves again.
The new route we’ve mapped out, documented more elegantly here by my brother, takes us from the capital, Washington DC, inland to Lake Erie, before we turn north east and ride through New York and into New England. If time permits, we’re aiming for Maine, but we’ll see how we go. Our return route will be along the Atlantic coast route, following the coast in places but heading inland as we head further south. I’ve come to love the various parts of the eastern US that I’ve seen, so I’m excited to fill in the gaps and see more of the mountains, lakes and natural beauty of this region.
It’s a loop linking up the following route: C&O canal, GAP trail, Underground Railroad Pittsburgh spur, Northern Tier and Atlantic Coast.
This very rough screen-grab/sketch-map shows our approximate route: