Pining for Back Roads (USA Day 8)
I woke to the sound of lapping water and was relieved to see pure sun. The thunderstorm had washed much of the humidity from the air, leaving a chilly morning with the ground still wet from the night’s rain.
We got up as slowly as we could in the shore house, eating toasted waffles and fresh peaches, prancing about the patio as if we owned the place. More than once, Amy said “Well, we might as well just stay here for another day,” but we eventually ran out of excuses and loaded up our bikes for the ride westward.
It started great, but before long our route took us on Highway 70, a wide-shouldered road with quite heavy traffic, perfectly fit for cyclists but a total bore. Endless screaming engines, each mile indiscernible from the pervious ones, difficult right-turns to avoid as cars overtook/undertook us to nip off onto a side-road. Physically, this road was no challenge at all. Mentally, we were both broken. By 25 miles, we’d run out of sandwiches and still felt depressed. We took an executive decision to turn off the highway at the nearest opportunity and pootle down some back-roads, exchanging a few extra miles for something, anything, to actually see.
It paid off.
With a fraction of the previous traffic, we were able to fully appreciate the pine forests, wafts of the fragrant sap reaching us on each gust of wind. We passed wheeling turkey vultures, patrolling the sky for the next roadkill snack, and even a couple of the huge birds in a nearby field tussling over something both delicious and dead. We, too, enjoyed a delicious and dead roadside coffee and donut (our second in two days and a cheering, energising experience both times) in a tiny town with a name, probably, before plunging once again into the wilderness.
The roads never became lanes or paths, like they do in Britain, so we were never in danger of losing our way or getting stuck down the mouldy back of a cul-de-sac. By 5pm we were rolling into Mount Laurel, once again feeling three times better than we had felt thirty miles before. A good sign for the future, ending both days on such a high, but we’re yet to have a ride which didn’t go temporarily sour at around the 20-30 mile mark.
Game of the day today was 1-2-3-Spy. We re-started from 1 and triumphantly reached 25, finding the digits embedded deep in a telephone number on the side of a real estate sign. 26 is proving hard to spot, but I’m confident we’ll find it tomorrow.
Miles Today: 56
Total Miles: 100