While co-bloggers were conferring in Boston and consulting in Ethiopia, I just spent the rare weekend doing precisely nothing that could be called work. I woke at 2 am Saturday and drove to Frederick, Maryland. At 4 I and 22 others launched by bicycle from a highway motel, winding through downtown Frederick on the way to the Maryland countryside. After a long loop I made it back to Frederick at 8:45 pm. A little chit-chat, 4 1/2 hours of not-very-restful sleep, and an odd breakfast of three bowls of Hormel chili later, I launched (this time alone) at 2:45 am for a second loop, returning to Frederick at 1:45 pm.
Taken together we had four Potomac River crossings on three different bridges and we rode through four states (Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland). These rides encounter dozens of sleepy burgs that are too small to boast a stoplight, a proper grocery, or even a McDonalds franchise. (They all have a road named after a church, however. "Sam Church Road." "Jones Church Road." "First Church Road." Might one responsibly conclude that the dying of rural America is linked to an overpopulation of churches?)
Many say of these rides that the best part is the night-riding. I'm frequently a skeptic of that claim because the magic of night-riding is easily offset by the fear of drunks and the necessarily slower pace. The dark and semi-dark hours before 6 am were a treat this time -- partly because the air was cool and partly because I was thankfully alert enough actually to enjoy them.