On Thursday, we got up relatively early (for us) and were on the road early, since we knew the ride would be over 40 miles. We had heard from many cyclists that the first 10 days of long distance pedaling are the most difficult, but on the 10th day, your endurance and strength becomes noticeably better. This seemed true for us too–everything about the 10th day of riding felt better than it had in the past.
Though the areas around the state parks were quiet and scenic, we spend much of our ride on highways including DE-13 and DE/MD-404. Although it is not as relaxing to ride with traffic, if the shoulders are wide, we can put many miles behind us and find plenty of places to stop, use a restroom, and eat on benches.
The google map biking directions were not great for this ride.
First, we missed our initial turn onto 404, since the directions weren’t correct, the ALT/BUS connector wasn’t well marked, or I wasn’t paying enough attention, and I’m still not sure which it was. After we stopped for lunch, we caught 16, which was much calmer and more scenic, and although it did add a few miles, we felt the detour was worth it.
A word of caution for anyone using physical maps or google navigation to get to state park campgrounds: the bicycle directions into and out of parks are often inaccurate and circuitous, and lead you past the park office, which may be miles away from the campground. And back road entrances to the parks do not have the same helpful signs (if there are signs at all) that you find when you come from major roadways. Park roads also seldom appear on Maryland state maps.
However, and unbeknownst to me, the directions had us take another “short cut” to the park that turned out to include a left turn onto a road that was not a road at all, but rather an overgrown railroad. To the right, it looked like the track may have been removed been converted to a horse path. But to the left, it was overgrown and unsuitable for biking the almost two miles we were supposed to ride on it. We rode ahead and took the next left, but when we reached the next intersections, we had gone too far and the directions no longer made sense. To try to find our route again, we biked a few blocks one direction, then turned around, then biked a mile another direction, and then turned around before we stopped at a gas station to ask the locals. Unfortunately, they were only somewhat helpful, thinking in terms of motorists, and their advice put us on a route that was quite a bit longer. In the end, from the time we attempted the turn off, we added at least 8 miles by zigzagging toward the park at the time of day when we were the most tired and hungry, cross from being lost, and about the time the wind picked up and we had to ride straight into it.
So, what should have been a 46 mile day turned into a 56 mile day. On the other hand, like I wrote at the beginning, this is about the 10th day of cycling, and we still made it before dark and not quite as sore and exhausted as we would have been even a few days earlier.
Also, getting to campsites in April means plenty of firewood is easy to scavenge, so we made a fire and cooked our pasta dish again, this time with an olive oil sauce and vegetables, rather than a red sauce. Since we’ve become more obsessed with food, we also had chocolate cake donuts that Elizabeth had picked up on the way.
Overnight, we heard barred owls calling to one another. We also woke up when we heard some tiny animal (or large insect) walking around our tent or rustling around in the leaves near us. We never did figure out what it was. However, in the morning, we did discover a large black snake that lived under the sinks in the women’s bathroom (we stayed at the non-electric loop usually reserved for youth groups. We didn’t mind sharing the space, but I can’t imagine how it might go for the group of teenage girls that next discover a snake warming itself at their vanity).
Overall, we thought the park was very nice with nice showers, but Elizabeth was sour to discover the vending machine would not take her quarters for a Coke. The area around the park is also quite pretty.