bike trip – Pittsburgh to DC

After NACIS 2014 I had the amazing chance to finally take some days off to plan and beautifully execute a 5 day 350 mile bike trip from Pittsburgh to DC. The route, following the Great Allegheny out of Pittsburgh to Cumberland and then the C&O which literally comes to my doorstep in Georgetown. It was a great lead up with some but probably not enough training to be had. I was fresh into the clip-in world, dolled up my new ride with all the necessities for multi-day then literally just went for it. I think that’s the most important part, some people talk about grand idea’s and I’m sorry but actions speak louder than words don’t talk about it unless your gonna do it. So I held myself to the trip rain or shine and started off at 8am from Pittsburgh, PA with a hell of a long ways to go.

This trip has taught me alot in the realm of bike touring which is a really cool culture to dabble in. It also proved how amazing the human body can be. I had never before this trip biked more than 30/40 miles in a day and on this trip I did 5 consecutive days of 70 miles for a combined ~350. This also happened to be one of the wettest weeks of the year which didn’t help with any mental game. However, without headphones or a bike partner I was literally on cloud nine for 5.5 hours each day. Knowing where I had to get was the only objective for the day so that meant I could stop, get beers, changed a few flats for people, and met some amazing friends. It came to a point on day three that although I did start to get burning in my left knee but other than that I wasn’t really tired each day. I was up and on trail by 9am having had got breakfast at a local eatery well before that. I was in tip top shape and my body was loving it. When I got back my body was up and ready to do it all over again as if this were the new pace I’m going to do everyday. Although it weren’t and my trip was over, your body craves to be worked, I leave you with an amazing poem that alludes to that thought.

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

Marge Piercy