In the Rain to Meyersdale, PA

Our host at the B&B we were staying at in Confluence, Sandy, was already there, busy at work in the kitchen, by the time I went downstairs from my room.   Ram and Koushik were chatting with her.

After having a cup of coffee, I decided to take a walk around town while breakfast was being prepared.

This is the house in which we stayed.  It was really charming, both inside and outside.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe early morning fog was rising over the hills, and behind the community center.  The population of Confluence is about 800.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere were people sitting on the benches in the park in the central area in town having an early morning chat.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe breakfast Sandy had prepared was quite grand – with scrambled eggs, chopped up potatoes with fresh vegetable mixed in, tasty sausage links, fruits of different kinds, orange juice, bread, and homemade jam.  It was all fresh and substantial.  Sandy fussed over us as we enjoyed the food, and she helped keep up a steady stream of conversation. We learnt a lot about the place.  By all appearances, Sandy seemed to be a very active member of the community.

The weather forecast was not optimistic.  The chances of getting rained on during the ride were significant.  But we were prepared, and we were determined to press on.

Sandy came out of the house to talk to us, to bid us goodbye and give us last minute directions, as we got our bikes out of the garage and got ready to ride once again.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe had to ride a short distance on the main road before we hit the trail once again.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was a steady climb right from the start.  There were places where the river ran well below the trail and the train tracks on the other side.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then it started to rain.  We had to bring out the rain gear.  I had to stow my camera away in my backpack and put on my own poncho.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the approach to the Pinkerton tunnel.  The bridge is over the Casselman river.  It was raining like crazy at this point.  I was in no position to take pictures and enjoy the view from the bridge.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe stopped at the entrance of the tunnel.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe boy in the picture above was riding the trail with his dad.  He must have been less than ten years old.  He was really pounding the pavement and appeared to be enjoying the experience.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe encountered many more riders who had stopped to take shelter within the tunnel while waiting for the storm to pass, but we pressed on.  I was actually enjoying the ride in the rain.

The funny thing was that we encountered many of the same folks that were waiting in the tunnel when we finally got to our destination for the evening at dinner.   And we might encounter some of the same people on the trail on the way to Cumberland today.  There is definitely a kind of fellowship that is generated between people who bike this trail.  I do not remember this from our ride in 2016.

The picture below was taken when we made a short stop for a restroom break.  Koushik and I rode over the bridge to the other side of the river.  It was still raining heavily at that point.  It was difficult to take pictures since I had to first take my poncho off to get to my camera bag underneath it, then extract the camera from the bag in the rain, and only then, finally, take the pictures.  I had to go over the process in reverse after I was done.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe finally arrived at the town of Rockwood as the rain was beginning to subside.  There was a group of cats on the trail.  It felt like they were there to welcome us.  Apparently, they have become rather well known on the trail.  I could not take a picture.

We rode off the trail to a place we had stopped at during our previous ride in 2016 to get some sustenance and warm up a little bit.  There were many other riders of the trail who had stopped there, most likely with the same purpose.

It was a nice atmosphere inside, and a general spirit of camaraderie.   We were all there with the same spirit of purpose.  Many folks seemed to be familiar with the drill.  This was not the first time they were doing the ride.

I had been imagining a turkey sandwich and a cup of hot chocolate during the wet ride.  I got what I wanted!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen it was back on the trail.  Our rain gear was put away.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABack on the trail, it was back to the steady uphill climb.

We took our time to enjoy the stops that we made.  There were many small waterfalls along the way.  The air was actually cooler as you passed these waterfalls. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere were also the waterfalls that were formed just because of the rain that had fallen.

In one section of the trail with walls of earth on both sides, we came across a young deer that was trapped on the trail in front of us.  It kept running ahead of us until it found a place to climb the slope on one side of the trail.   We slowed down for it.

And then the rain started coming down in earnest once again.

It was pouring heavily by the time we got to the long Salisbury viaduct.  We could not afford to stop too long on the viaduct since there was some thunder and lightning action going on around us – and we also happened to be the tallest objects on the viaduct.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI would have loved to have stopped and taken more pictures on the viaduct, but it was not to be.

It was an uphill slog the last couple of miles into town. There was water running down the the trail as we kept our heads down and pedaled as hard as we could. A steady stream of water was picked up by the tires and a line of dirt coated our rain gear.

We kept at it until we arrived at Meyersdale, PA.  We found our way to the place for the night.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe first order of business was to clean up the bikes and put them away in the shed that you can see to the right of the above picture.  Then we had to clean ourselves up. There was an incredible amount of dirt all over us.. My shoes and socks had gravel all over them.  (The shoes are still wet this morning.  I will have to ride in my sandals today.)  A hot cup of coffee after a shower brought us back to normal.

This picture was taken from the front of the B&B.  There are only a few places close by to eat at, and this shows two of them.   The Donges Diner and the small motel next to it are very old, and both are still functional.  The Donges has a good reputation.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe went to the Morguen Tool Company for dinner.  There was a nice breeze blowing outside as we chatted.  We were joined by a few of our fellow riders on the trail, including the little boy and his father.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen it was back to the B&B for some more conversation.  The bottle of Scotch was demolished.  The people that we had stayed with at the B&B in Confluence stopped by to chat.  We headed for bed as late as usual.

We rode about 30 miles yesterday.  We have about the same distance to cover today, into Cumberland.  There is a good downhill stretch towards the end, after we cross the Continental Divide, that could make this a short run.

 

A “Rest” Day in Ohiopyle, and then on to Confluence, PA

My friends had woken up by the time I finished yesterday’s blog at the cafe where I had found the Internet connection.  I went back to the motel room to get ready for the day while they were having their own breakfasts.  I then joined them as the day’s activities began.

This is the little place where I had written the previous blog.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI walked around town by myself for a little bit before going back to the motel room.  The others had gone back to the motel to get ready to check out.

The towns that we are riding past are next to the primary CSX freight line that runs between this part of the east coast and the rest of the country.  There is always a steady train traffic nearby.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a picture of the Low bridge over the Yough in the morning light.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe set out on a hike to Cucumber Falls after I returned to the motel.

The activities on the river had already started.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe stepped off the path to go down to a stream to see the natural water slides.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe could not figure out how anybody could actually slide down this stream and stay alive!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe were trying to follow the Meadow Run Trail to get to the falls.  We got lost after this stop by the Yough river.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe had to work our way back to the main road to get to Cucumber Falls.  It was a good climb up a hill.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe falls were spectacular!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere is Koushik exploring the falls.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARam was next.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShankar also walked behind the falls.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe then hiked the Great Gorge trail to get back to town.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere we are at the place where we had stopped for lunch during our ride of the GAP in 2016.  We were nicknamed “The Blues Brothers” for the day.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis picture is from the High bridge over the Yough.  It was taken from the GAP trail at the tail end of the hike.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI thought this was a good day to relax.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe stopped here for lunch.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis picture was taken as we were leaving for Confluence.  This is where we had stayed the night.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere we are back on the trail again.  It is good to stretch before doing any exercise!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASince we were only riding a short distance, we took some extended stops along the way. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe had to climb down to get from the trail to the river.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEven though it had felt quite hot when we had been walking in the sun earlier in the day, it was very comfortable riding under the trees.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese pictures are from a second stop by the river.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then it was back on the trail.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a picture of the confluence of the Youghiogheny and Casselman rivers. It was taken from the trail.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe went for a walk after arriving in Confluence, putting our bikes away, and cleaning up.  We were staying at the at The Confluence House Bread & Breakfast.

It turns out that Confluence is not just the confluence of the Youghiogheny and Casselman rivers. There is also the Laurel Hill creek that joins up with the two rivers.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe tried to walk to the area of the confluence of the rivers but it was all on private property.

We then proceeded to the Lucky Dog Cafe for dinner.  It was the same place we had eaten at in 2016.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe walked a little more after dinner.

We crossed over the Yough during this walkOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand ended up at the Youghiogheny dam.  We did not attempt to walk up to the top of the dam to see the lake behind it since there was a “No Trespassing” sign on the pathway leading up.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThat was the last stop before we walked back to our place for the night.

We retired for the night after some drinks, music, and conversation.

We walked about 8 miles during the day, and rode over 11 miles.

Today promises to be a rainy day.  We will probably be riding in our rain gear.  The ride is also going to get a little more challenging because the trail is going to get steeper.

 

On to Ohiopyle, PA

This blog may be short on details and style, but I can hopefully at least get the pictures of the day in. The issue is that my computer does not connect to the Internet in the motel that we are staying in.  So here I am, at the only place that seems to be open at this time in the morning, having some breakfast outside, using the wifi signal.   It is a beautiful morning.  The sun is rising.  People are waking up.  I have the hungry sparrow for company.  It is looking for crumbs all around. I will post something as quickly as possible, and clean it up later.

Early morning in Smithton, where we have spent the night.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADeparture.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis deer has been separated from its little ones because of our approach, but it did not seem to be concerned.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIce cream stop at Adelaide.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAConnellsvile, PA.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA helmet massage for the sore butt!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe viewpoint.  We are probably riding through Ohiopyle State Park by now.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHe said he was approaching the age of 80.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the tepla stop.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe high bridge outside Ohiopyle.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe low bridge at Ohiopyle.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARemains of a massive salad that turned out to be dinner.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOhiopyle.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe rode about 40 miles yesterday.  Today is a short riding day.  We are going to relax and let our tired muscles recover a little.

And I have to end the blog now.  I will clean it up later.

Riding to Smithton, PA

Here we are getting reading to ride at in the garage at Ram’s place of work.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a view of PIttsburgh as we cross the Hot Metal Bridge and the Monongahela river.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was a photo opportunity in Homestead, just outside of Pittsburgh.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe were riding near the railroad tracks  for some time.  I believe the place was called Duquesne.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe crossed the Monongahela river into McKeesport.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was a break for a second breakfast for some of us.  Shankar had not had his morning coffee as yet.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis near the confluence of the Youghiogheny and Monongahela rivers.  From now on we will leave the Monongahela, and ride along the Yough.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe trail climbed into the woods.  The people who built the GAP left this stretch of railroad tracks standing beside the trail. The GAP is a railtrail.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe made a stop at Boston and met a very interesting trail volunteer. We spent a long time chatting with him.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI thought this house by the trail looked interesting.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe made many stops to take in the views and chill out.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis waterfall was depositing some white mineral on the rocks.  It could have been either natural or from some old abandoned mine.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe took a break at the Beuna Vista ramp.  We had stopped here to eat teplas when we rode the trail last time in 2016.  We were too full from the late breakfast this time.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis section of the trail was built on the right of way of the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie railroad.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis waterfall carries iron from the remains of an old mine.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe bike must have been dropped in the water.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe saw fallen trees in a few places, but this was the only location where the trail was completely blocked.  We could easily get under the fallen tree.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the West Newton train station that has been converted into a museum and gift shop.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACrossing the Yough to go into town at West Newton.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe spent some time in West Newton.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe then got back on the trail after crossing back over the river. Here we are approaching the end of the ride for the day. At this point, we got off the trail and crossed the river once again into Smithton.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe easily found the Bed & Breakfast place where we were staying for the evening. One of the natives knew exactly what we were looking for when he saw four tired people on their bikes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe building is a three story affair that is really old – from the early 20th century.  It belonged to the family of the current owner who now happens to also be the volunteer Mayor of Smithton.  It was used as a boarding house in times past.  There is a lot of history in the place that I have no time to expand on at this point.

The place used to have a working bar.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere used to be a brewery in town.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe spent a delightful and very relaxed evening on the porch chatting. There was not much choice in town for dinner.  We ordered pizza from the only place that was open, and consumed it while enjoying our liquid refreshment in the cool evening breeze as the sun set.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAP7080005-1.jpgOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe also took a walk through the town.  It did not take too long to get through it.  It is a really small place. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASmithton is close to the railroad tracks.  You can hear the music of the rails and the whistle of the engines as as the freight trains roar by.  But I did not hear any trains during the night.  I must have slept well.

We rode about 40 miles yesterday.

Seeing Pittsburgh by Bicycle and Boat

We were in a good mood for the first day of riding.  Here we are leaving home.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur bikes were delivered at Washington’s Landing on the Allegheny river.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe biked along the Allegheny river. Downtown Pittsburgh is in the distance as we start the ride.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a view of downtown Pittsburgh from the North Shore trail along the Allegheny river.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe took a short detour to ride past the front of the baseball stadium where the Pittsburgh Pirates play.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis picture shows the confluence of the three rivers at Point State Park.  Our trail continued along the Ohio river.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a view of downtown Pittsburgh from the banks of the Ohio river as we continue to ride the North Shore trail.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe trail continued past Heinz field, the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers football (American football, that is!) team.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis submarine on the Ohio river is a museum that can be visited.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATime for some fun beside the Ohio.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe end of the North Shore trail provided a break and some time for texting.  The trail ran past an older industrialized neighborhood that has seen better days.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Duquesne Incline and the water fountain at Point State Park are captured in this picture.  We were still on the North Shore trail at this point.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe crossed the Allegheny river to get to Point State Park and the water fountain.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere we are at the confluence of the three rivers.  This is the start of the Great Allegheny Passage, otherwise known as the GAP.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHeinz stadium is now across the river from us.  One of the Gateway Clipper boats that provides tours of Pittsburgh sails on the river.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe walked the last section through the city on our way to lunch.  We went to a Turkish restaurant.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter lunch, we rode back to the start of the GAP, and rode the trail up to the Hot Metal Bridge.  It rained a little while we were biking along the Monongahela river.  It was a very light rain that did not bother us.  This is the middle of summer and the time for thunderstorms.  We could be getting more rain during the rest of this ride.

We left our bikes locked at Ram’s place of work, and Kalpana gave us a ride back home.  It was short day of riding, only about 15 miles.

We went for a cruise on the rivers in the evening as the sun was beginning to set. It was a delightful experience.  We enjoyed it thoroughly.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere are some pictures of the city taken from the boat.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis picture is of downtown Pittsburgh.  At this point we were on the Ohio river.  To the left is the Allegheny river, and to the right, the Monongahela.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Carnegie Science Center and the Heinz stadium seen from the boat.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then it was time to head back home and chill. The serious riding starts tomorrow.

Arrival in Pittsburgh for Bike Ride

I am here to ride the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) from Pittsburgh to Cumberland in Maryland with my friends from high school.

I took the bus from Frederick, MD, to Pittsburgh.  Teresa dropped me off at the bus station.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The bus and train station are both in the same building.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I am at my friend’s house enjoying the warm hospitality.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe are the riders, the same folks who did the 2016 KVIITM75 ride!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe are exploring a little bit of Pittsburgh on our bikes today.  I hope the weather holds up.

Mad Thoughts on July 4th

I had decided to take the week off from training since it was so close to the start of the longer bike ride that is starting on Sunday.  I did not want to overdo it.  But restlessness took over early in the week.  A couple of days of staying at home when I could have been outside biking in nice weather was more than I could handle mentally.  Although it is easy to become lazy, I also had a sense that there had been opportunities that had been missed.  I finally broke down and went for a long bike ride on Thursday, July 4th – Independence day.

I left early in the morning having decided that I wanted to be back home at a reasonable time after the ride.  The streets were quiet on account the holiday.  It was somewhat jarring on this particular day to come across a pan-handler at a road intersection holding a sign that indicated that he was a veteran.  My first thought that it was quite ironic that my first experience on Independence day was something that made a mockery of the sentiment of independence.  The veterans were the guys who were willing to face danger in the preservation of independence, but we were failing them and not taking care of them.  Yet, we were having a celebration.

Our eyes locked for just an instant.  The moment did not last long. I was just driving past.  I suppose I could have pulled over somewhere to engage with the person.  That may have been the right thing to do, but it seems that the easiest thing to do is to try to put encounters with the less fortunate out of our minds.

There were many cars already parked in the lot at Great Falls by the time I arrived.  That was not normally the case on a regular weekday.  I found a spot for my car further away from where I was used to parking, got my equipment out, and started to ride towards the trail.  I could see that a yoga class was underway next to the river.P7040078.jpgPeople were also already on the trail, many walking towards Olmsted Island to see the actual waterfalls.  I headed south on the towpath towards Washington, DC, on my bicycle.

My goal was to get to Fletcher’s Cove, and then take the Capital Crescent trail to Bethesda.  I estimated that this would give me a moderate distance of about 30 miles for the ride.

As I got closer to Fletcher’s Cove, the urge hit me to head right into Washington, DC, to investigate what was going on with regards to the July 4th celebration there.  The primary concern with following up on this urge was the fear of possible crowds of people on foot on the path on which I was trying to ride my bike.  My strategy was going to be to immediately turn back and retrace my path the moment I hit trouble.

I was able to ride along the C&O canal all the way through Georgetown without interference. I then got on the trail that went past Rock Creek, to get to mile 0 of the towpath.  The city was still very quiet at that time of the morning.  There were fewer people about than I had expected.  So far so good!  I decided to keep on biking further along the river, in the direction of Lincoln Memorial, and to cross over to Virginia on one of the bridges across the Potomac at some point.  I would then head back north through Virginia, and finally cross over back to the other side of the river at the Key bridge.

I did not have to bike far before I encountered a roadblock. It was just before the Kennedy Center.  Both the trail and the road beside it were closed, and a police car and a dump truck were blocking the way.   I could either go back the way I had come, or try to find another way around the blockage.  Remembering that this blockage was in the direction of the Lincoln Memorial, and that a big event was being planned at that location in the evening, I saw no point in continuing.  There was no way the authorities were going to let people, even an innocent bicyclist, get closer.

Seeing a sign for Interstate 66 and Virginia at this point, I decided to take the bridge over the Potomac to Virginia instead.  I biked up to the front of Kennedy CenterP7040084.jpgand looked around. There were no people around. The few scattered guards around the building appeared to be in a very relaxed frame of mind.  There was no concern about my standing there all by myself taking pictures.

I found the bicycle trail leading to the bridge.

The bike lane on the Interstate 66 bridge across the Potomac was clearly not part of the original design of the bridge.  It was narrow enough to be dangerous.  I saw a person coming towards me lose his balance while trying to pass some people, and hit the railing on the river side of the bridge in the process.  The railing was not very high – once again not designed with bicyclists in mind.  Luckily, the person did not fall off the bridge.  I proceeded with additional caution.

There were cars at the parking lot for Roosevelt Island on the Virginia side of the bridge. By this time people were beginning to come out to the park in significant numbers.

I made my way over the Key Bridge back into DC,  and then biked back to Fletcher’s Cove on the towpath.

The ride on the Capital Crescent trail was my last opportunity for some uphill biking as part of my training.  It felt good.  I felt strong.  Things seem to be in good shape for the ride.  There were plenty of people on the trail by the time I got there.  The laid-back spirit of the July 4th holiday was in the air.

The towpath was completely crowded with holiday-goers by the time I got back to Great Falls at the end of the ride.  I had to slow down to a crawl and call out to people on the trail regularly to warn them about my approach.  Folks were in good spirits.

I got in about 40 miles of riding.  It was more that I had wanted to do in the beginning. I was a bit tired.

It was a news article that I saw online that I wanted to talk a little more about in this blog. The article indicated that Mad Magazine was soon going to cease publication. Coincidentally, I had been thinking about Mad Magazine during the last few days.  I had been an avid follower of the magazine in the 70s. One of the regular features that I used to enjoy was a comic series (I have not been able to find the author’s name) that attempted to showcase regular Americans going about their everyday lives.  It was a caricature, and it pointed out the ridiculous nature of some of the habits of the regular folks, and the mindless and asinine things people do as a matter of habit without even thinking about it.   Although I did not know it at that time, the drawings were quite accurate and cutting in their depictions.  I found this out only later when I came to the US myself.  The drawn pictures of the people were themselves quite priceless, and also ridiculously accurate in their representation. You could see what a typical American looked like in his or her living environment, and it was sometimes quite ridiculous.

My thoughts then wandered towards how America has changed since the seventies.  Specifically, I was thinking about people like me, Indians who have settled down in the US, people who have grown in our numbers. I was thinking about how we now represent a significant chunk of the local population that is easily recognizable.  We have our own recognizable  place in the American experience in the cities and in suburbia. (This is perhaps less true in the rural areas.)  We have our own quirks.  The interesting thing is how Indians have adopted to the existing American way of life, and also how Indians have impacted the social experience and the culture in places where they exist in large numbers.  We can be as American as they come, but in our own way.

It was in this context that I was thinking about my American experience, and consequently about Mad Magazine.  I was thinking about the opportunity to make fun of people like me, the Indian American, and my manners and looks. I am sure we have our own foibles that would be worthy of laughing about if we became more self-aware.  It could perhaps take an “outsider” to point these out to us.  Yes, we could perhaps be downright ridiculous in our ways if we really thought about it.  And this would also be a unique part of the American experience.  And it would be great to capture this in comic form, just the way Mad Magazine could.  Indeed, they might have done so already without my knowing it.  How would Mad Magazine try to caricature a person like me?  That would be interesting to know.  Would they consider people like me to be full of crap?

I will end with a thought about the July 4th celebration. It is about the fact that for the first time in many years they had a show of military power at the celebrations in Washington, DC.  The show included Air Force One flying overhead as the president spoke.  It is easy to forget that all of this material stuff is temporary.  The picture below symbolic of what eventually happens to all of this over time.   The aircraft below once used to carry the President of the United States.  It has now become a museum piece, somewhat sad looking in its current location and appearance.P6170040.jpg(This picture was taken from the Mt. Vernon trail, from under the Wilson Bridge.)

It is the spirit that really matters in the end.

PS.  If you do not know anything about Mad Magazine, and are interested in getting a better context, you should watch the video in the link that I provided in this blog.