7:00 am and we’re on the road. Dew-covered bikes glisten under a hot, humid sun. Thin, gnarled trees and sandpits gradually give way to lush forests and earth.
We’re on the road for 30 minutes when I realize I’ve left all my over-shirts in Manahawkin; the first casualty of travel.
Asphalt speeds underneath rubber tires for two hours while the humidity disappears and the sun climbs higher above the horizon. We stop at a welcome center just over the Delaware border fresh from soaking in one hell of a view from on high. After a stretch, we make awkward banter for the camera, fill our bellies and hit the road once more.
The day grows hotter, and the traffic thickens as we near Baltimore. Semi-trucks box us in on all sides and spew black smoke, which fills our eyes and mouths, while settling in a haze around our boots. I’m hot and the day is growing hotter. My legs cramp, my wrist aches and sweat pours down my back. Jeremy and I shift our weight around on our bikes. We stretch while riding. We swear loudly into our coms.
Our sanity is saved by a small two-lane highway on the other side of the Virginia border. Rounding a curve, trees disappear to reveal a gorgeous mountainside, green and lush. The aching joints and tense muscles linger, but the scenery becomes a welcome distraction.
Cows! I yell.
Goats! I point.
More fat cows! My urban upbringing betrays me.
We arrive at Luray Caverns 30 minutes late, and I want to hate the place. I’m in a rotten mood and out of the energy it takes to be diplomatic. Jeremy and I wash up in the bathroom between suspicious glares from a father. We exit and begin the interview.
To be continued…
Spoiler: Everyone as Luray was extremely nice and I felt bad for being so crotchety.by