Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Day 4: Ellicott City to Stafford

Route: Ellicott City, MD to Stafford, VA
Mileage: About 81 miles

Last night I was way too tired to write this, so sorry for the delay. Yesterday was a rough day!  So let us begin the recap.

I woke up in pain.  My spine was killing me I could barely stand up straight.  I also have ankylosing spondylitis, which affects the back, spine and tendons and anything else from there blends in with my JIA.  My spine hasn't bothered me in a very long time but only started to show it's ugly head the morning we left.  Great.  But this morning, oh man, it was not good.  I tried stretching, I had Keegan push on me.  Nothing helped. So I just had to make do.  Luckily it wasn't so bad when I was flexed forward, how one rides, but every now and then on the ride I would move and pain shot through my body.

But let me back up.  We woke up to Mike cooking us a delicious and hearty meal to get us going with energy! He had offered to ride us out of town to a bike path, so we tried to pack up and get out of there so he could get on his call with Ann Palmer, CEO of the Arthritis Foundation.  We probably made him late for the call, apologies to Ann!

We felt pretty spoiled, having a police escort the day before and now the Chair of the Board of Directors escorting us out of town.  The southern states are really going to have to go big! ;)

We wound around through trees on a beautiful paved bike path.  Mike took us so far and then had to head back.  We were twisting and turning, going up and down hills, and really only about 5 min after Mike left us we were making a left turn on a slick piece of pavement that had a thin layer of mud and we wiped out.  We both lay there for a moment, picked ourselves up and made sure the other was ok.  We went down really hard.  I may have taken more of the fall as the back went down first with the weight. My left hip really hit hard.  And somehow my right shin was hit too, probably on the bike frame or handlebars.  My left elbow was cut up as well, but all survivable. We walked it off as we inspected our bodies and our bike.  I had the forethought to bring baby wipes to wipe off sunscreen on days, but not a first aid kit.  So we wiped the mud off of our bodies as best we could, and luckily we both had a pair of spare riding gloves because ours were covered in mud and we would spend the whole day just wiping our faces with dirt.  Some kind runners stopped and asked us our plan heading forward on the trail.  We said we didn't really know, we did what Google told us, which by the looks of it looked like for miles and miles and miles.  Mike had showed us on a map where to cut out of the path and we assumed Google would tell us, but no, Google only wants you on bike paths so we were a bit lost and now wanting off this path.  They warned us the path turned muddy up ahead and helped us to figure out how to get out of there.  They both got stickers!

We knew we needed to stop at a pharmacy anyways because we were pretty much out of sunscreen.  So once we got off the path we put in pharmacy and road towards a Walgreens.  However, there was no Walgreens there, we were in some industrial park.  But the bike was making noise so we stopped to fix it up and make sure all was ok.  Then we road 30 min to a CVS where we stopped, bought supplies and regrouped while I iced my hip.  It took us 2 hours to get 15 miles (that were very windy an not sure how much net progress we actually made), we were not off to a good start.

So we then set out again, long day, GPS said we still had 78 miles to go.  Ugh! We twist and turned all the way until we made it to DC.  We road past all of the major sights, but we were feeling pressed for time so didn't really stop too much.

We also needed food but didn't have time for a restaurant, so grabbed some quick hot dogs/chicken sausages and scarfed those down (Keegan loves cheese).

From there, more windy bike paths.  Some of which were quite nice and were lovely to take.

But then the bike directions turned a bit crazy.  Google so desperately wants you to take bike paths over roads it is hardly practical.  The directions had us weaving through suburban streets. It even had us hit a major road and then proceeded to say we needed to be on some bike path across the street that took you over what looked like a little bridge/boardwalk.  So we waited to get across traffic and when there was an opening we took it--Keegan is a great captain!  But then a truck came barreling around the corner and I won't go into too much detail about what it was like on my end because I know my mother is reading this, but it was close.  We made it across and I was pretty shaken up so we just continued along.  But when freaking Google then had us crossed the very same road where we had almost been killed to get to a bike path on the side of the street we were originally on--which we did, and had us go back to a cul de sac that had 3 flights of stairs to get back up to the bike path--we  had had it.  We were done.  No more bike directions, Google.  You're fired.  Keegan suggested we put in walking directions, because it always gives you the fastest route.  So we did that, which put us on a major road, Rte 1, but we are used to driving in traffic.  By Google's calculations, we had either 43 miles left of biking or 30 miles with walking directions down Rte 1--it was a no brainer.

We finally started to fly--it was about time.  My brother-in-law had even asked earlier in the day if we had really gotten up to 30mph on the bike like the Cyclometer said.  Oh yes, we can bomb down hills.  We were finally moving.  It was again very hilly, but that's just the way it's going to be. We did get a flat towards the very end, but otherwise we made it just at 7pm.

We were greeted by Raquel and Cy Carandang, my friend Kristine's parents who were kind enough to take us in.  Oh, and Elmo too.  They had a seriously beautiful spread prepared for dinner, I felt a little ridiculous as I hate dishes full of food all for me to gorge, but it was so great.  We had a great conversation, what fabulous people.  They even told us about their neighbor, who was in Germany at the moment, that also has JA.  What are the odds!  My friend Kristine has RA, although it sounds as though she was developing symptoms in early high school.  I also learned Kristine still holds the high school record in breath stroke!  Go Kristine!! :)

We stuffed ourselves and then went to bed.  I actually had some ergo reports to catch up on, so I did those and then didn't have the energy to write this, so crashed.  Tonight we stay with my friend, Lydia.  We were trying to get there early in the afternoon before she and her family had to be out, but she was gracious and empathetic enough (she has JA too) to say take our time.  Which is a relief, because I'm a bit beat up.

And you may be wondering how my body is holding up.  Well, it's ok.  But truthfully I feel pretty beat up.  My hip definitely hurts.  It's just very bruised with a nice hematoma the size of a golf ball in there, so I felt it with every pedal.  My shin is bruised to the touch, but otherwise fine.  My cuts on my arm/elbow sting with sunscreen but are alright, a little mini hematoma with the big cut.  Luckily it was my better elbow (second time the left has taken a blow when biking).  My right elbow is probably my most damaged/fragile joint so it would not have done well in the same instance.  Otherwise my back is iffy but a little better.  I also have way more sun rash on my legs, I just can't keep up with the sunscreen I guess, I should be wearing pants.  I also have a canker sore, which I am prone to from the methotrexate, that won't heal for a week or so.  So I'm hanging in, but feeling it.

This is definitely not accurate mileage, you can even see a chunk missing from the mileage markers.  It kept shutting off.  By our calculation we were supposed to do 93 miles and then took a 12 mile short cut, so we think 81 miles for the day.

We have actually never done four days in a row on the tandem, let alone loaded as it was.  So this was new territory.  And now we are off for Day 5!  Wish us luck!!

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