Singing in the Rain - Biking to DC with an Attitude

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Cycle America/N

Here is Day 4 from Denise Hill, Jim Muellner and OraSue Mckinnon, who are on the road from
Washington DC to Pittsburgh!! 67 year old Jim, last year's Indy to Chicago relay rider, the inventor
of the Smart Carte shopping cart system that passengers rent to shuttle their baggage around at
airports is riding the trike, made by his new company Just Two Bikes <>, that
folds to fit in a suitcase. . If you want to contact them, you can reach them on their Pocket Mailer
at this address <[email protected]>. If you want to start from the beginning and/or follow them
as they move forward in the National Mayors' Ride at <>,
TransAm Vet and last year's Mayors' Ride relay rider powerhouse, Andrew Morton, has their reports
(as well as all the relay cyclists who will follow) blogged. Point to their web site at


Hi Everyone: Today definitely was an emotional day, we started off euphoric having dry clothes,
sleeping bags and camping equipment. However when we looked outside it was raining. But being the
troupers we are, we dressed accordingly and after a bowl of cereal, toast and a hot cup of coffee,
we set off. Fortunately there was a paved trail the first 8 miles. We did have to break a few
rules. There had been some rock slides along the trail that wiped out the fencing on the steep
side in numerous places. Some of the boulders on the trail were several feet square. But it was
the tiny pieces that got me. I always did enjoy changing a tire in the rain. But it went quite
well. The orange barriers across the trails were a little scary to cross as the rain was coming
down pretty steady.

Now we had to leave the paved section and hit the puddle filled dirt road. It was depressing but no
one complained. When we were at our lowest what should appear along the trail but a little hut. A
door and two little windows that had little shutters we could close. We all ran inside and huddled
together, discussing the good fortune. I even gave the girls a little lesson on how to do the German
polka. It would have been nice to get a picture of the three of us laughing and dancing to get warm.
And it worked -- we were high for the moment.

As I went to get on my trike, however, I noted I had my second flat and this one on the front wheel.
The emotions dropped a little at that point, but what a blessing that it happened right in front of
this one and only hut on the trail. We pulled it inside and I went to work. Denise and OraSue
decided to make us some hot coffee and in minutes we were laughing again. How lucky can you be?

Repair and coffee over we are off again. Today there were few flowers or birds. Forgot to mention
that the girls saw 12 deer yesterday. They must have been smarter than we were and stayed inside. We
came to our planned lunch stop and discovered it was closed with not a person in sight. There was a
smoldering fire in back that we stoked up by collecting some scrap wood and before long our wet
clothes were stemming. We were almost high again.

Off again for the last 15 miles. It required constant attention to try and miss as many of those
water puddles as possible. We all wanted to get to the Paw Paw Tunnel, an engineering marvel of the
C&O canal, 3134 feet long through a mountain dug mainly by hand, using some black powder. The girls
went ahead to secure the hostel, called the Red Rooster. Unfortunately for me with the tunnel in
sight I had my third flat. Another low point, but miraculously it had stopped raining, how could I
be so lucky?

You needed a headlight to see in the tunnel where the area once used by the mules is now a bike
path. Right next to you is water the whole way, so if you fall it's wetsville. There is a railing,
but even that cannot prevent you from falling. On the way into the tunnel, huge slabs to slate are
tipped at about 45 degrees toward the water. Denise did a slow motion fall on the wood planking as
she was riding along. Fortunately she was not hurt.

We all wanted to kiss JD the owner of the hostel when we got there. I tried to explain my
appreciation and my emotional high to him, I am sure he had seen it before. We stashed our bikes in
a car port and headed for the showers, another high.

We found out the beer was sold at the local garage and there was pizza and fried chicken and ice
cream across the street. Gretchen the waitress was funny, as she could not believe how much we ate.
OraSue is a real negotiator getting her chicken pieces for half price compared to what I paid.
Hi Again: We had a five piece snack and macaroni and cheese,then we ordered a 8 pack of fried
chicken and a 16 inch pizza. We ate it all but a few pieces saved for the next days lunch. Oh yes we
polished of a six pack of Fosters Lager along the way and topped it off with an ice cream cone. Were
we hungry or what? We were on cloud nine.

Once back at the hostel were hit the sauna and a little conversation. OraSue was doing her laundry
and offered to do my few pieces, she was an angel.

Off to our bunk beds. We were gone and all agreed it was one of our best days. The biking pioneers
signing off, Denise, OraSue and Jim


We just heard from Jim, and now it's Denise and OraSue's turn:

location: Paw Paw, West Virginny.

this was the funnest day yet, although my account of the first 11 hours might lead you to believe

this morning we woke up to menacing gray skies, so we waited for the downpour to let up over our
continental breakfast. I drank enough hot chocolate to propel me the next 60 miles to the end of the
C&O canal trail. finally we'd had it with Mother Nature dictating our day, so we shrink-wrapped
ourselves in plastic and headed out.

fortunately for us, there's a *paved* rail-trail that runs parallel to the C&O towpath, so we opted
for that as far as it could take us. but the rain kept falling and we were getting chilly... we
passed a couple of fellow bike campers heading east to DC, who warned us about the sloppy terrain up
ahead. joy.

a little ways up I found a big ol' Eastern Box turtle and talked to him for a while, while Jim fixed
his flat rear tire. ugg.

we rolled under some plastic orange netting and past all the 'do not enter' signs through a section
of closed trail , which was labeled such due to the "falling rock." clearly it had already fallen
all over, so what was the big deal?

further along the trail (back in the open part), we found a random wooden structure like a kids'
playhouse but with a taller roof, and totally empty, so we went in to shake off and get out of the
rain. Jim taught us how to polka, so we shuffled around for warmth. (Ora Sue wondered aloud what in
hell a passerby would think, but there would be none, since anyone with enough sense to come in from
the rain was - yeah, doing just that.)

just as we were about to leave, Jim realized his front tire was flat (drat) so we pulled his trike
into the little house and replaced the tire while I made coffee and hot chocolate. yum.

we rolled on, and when we had to pick up the C&O towpath again, it was just as soupy and messy was
we'd been warned. poor Jim had the roughest time with this. (let me just qualify something for all
the future 2003 NBG riders: the only reason Jim goes around 9 mph is because the last 100 miles of
trail has been like 2 narrow, parallel paths. his trike wheels are too wide to both fit in the path,
so one back wheel is always fighting the grassy median, or in today's case, cloudy muddy trenches.
but as soon as we're on a paved surface, or even a wider path, BOY does he fly. just be warned.)

we went off trail to find this supposed "sandwich shop," but as luck would have it, it was closed.
we did however find a small abandoned fire going behind a dumpster, so we fueled it with whatever
dry flamables we could find and let the water steam off our clothing for a while. (I have to say
that it's such a pleasure traveling with folks who aren't afraid to dive into a dumpster for dry

this was meant to be our easy, short 30 mile day, but it was proving to be the most challenging one
yet. back on trail, I kept my mind off the raw cold by NOT counting miles, singing songs and trying
to learn how to circle breathe. I think I'm picking it up.

finally we came to the last mile of our trek, which includes the Paw Paw Tunnel. it's an unlit .6
mile long tube, and unless you're a bat, you need a flashlight.

I took a brilliant fall just before the tunnel and although I wasn't hurt at all, I was momentarily
pinned under my bike and couldn't escape due to minor thermal muscle debilitation. plus I was
laughing too hard. too bad no one was there to laugh with/at me too.

the tunnel was fun in that long, narrow, dark kind of way. at the other end we had less than a mile
to go to the hostel. I waited for Jim who'd gotten yet another flat (3 for 3!), and we rolled across
the Potomac to WV, which has recently become The Greatest State In The Union.

WELL! after we hosed all the crud off our bikes, we took The Greatest Showers Ever, and headed down
the road for The Greatest Pizza Ever and The Greatest Fried Chicken Ever, which we washed down with
The Greatest Beer Ever.

then we went back to the hostel to sweat - for the first time all day - in their sauna (ohhhhh yes),
and stagger around blissfully for the remainder of the evening.

aaaand that should bring us up to date. no numbers today, since I've sweated off my ability to
count. I did however rescue one (1) worm from certain demise on the paved trail.

Denise, Jim (passed out), and Ora Sue (ditto)

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MARTIN KRIEG: "Awake Again" Author c/o 79 & 86 TransAms, nonprofit Nat. Bicycle
Greenway CEO

Ever wanted anything so bad U were willing to die for it? Really die? By moving thru clinical death
and reversing paralysis, *I saw God* when I answered that question.
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