Sunday, July 06, 2014

First Bike Overnighter: From Arlington to Arundel Mills

Friday morning, Shira mentions to me that our weekend is pretty open and that it will be one our last open weekends of the summer. Was I interested in doing that bike overnight that I'd been pestering her about for nearly two years? We hemmed and hawed over it a bit, but finally decided: what the heck, let's do it!

See, in February of 2012 I'd learned about the S24O, or Sub 24Hour Overnight. The concept, as the name suggests, is that you head out on your bike, stay overnight (usually in a tent) and bike back the next day. You get the joy of bike touring in abbreviated form.

S24O had two tricky elements: (1) convincing Shira to do a massive bike ride and (2) convincing her to sleep in a tent after doing so.

And then it hit me: what if we did an S24O that didn't involve roughing it? Looking around I found an obvious target: Arundel Mills Casino. At only a mere 35.9 miles away, how hard a trip could it possibly be?

So Saturday afternoon, after I got back from shul, we tossed some extra clothes, two toothbrushes and some snacks in a bag and headed out. A mere 5.5 hours later we arrived at the hotel we were staying at. What an amazing ride it turned out to be!

The Google directions list 81 steps (though some of them are as simple as "keep left" on the same road you're on), so this trip was anything but a direct route. We saw the hoods of DC, the sticks of Maryland and a handful of suburban subdivisions. We were on city roads, back roads, two lane highways and a glorious, yet all too short section of the Northeast Branch Trail. We passed a Maryland Pen, USDA Farms, hugged Fort Meade and discovered a Spanish Bakery that had the most delicious "recovery donuts." The vast majority of drivers were courteous, though there were a bunch of motorcyclists that appeared to have a death wish and were ruining the roads for everyone.

We "camped out" at the Hotel at Arundel Preserve, and we were pretty dang impressed. Though after 37 miles of riding, any king size bed was going to feel heavenly. Instead of sitting around a campfire eating weenies on a stick, we had a delicious Indian meal and then hit the casino. To each his own, right?

I'll admit it, on paper 37 miles didn't seem like much. But it kicked my butt. Perhaps it would have been easier had we been on trails; but dealing with city and country traffic definitely made for a more harrowing trip. All in all, I couldn't be happier with my first bike overnighter. While I'm not sure I'd recommend this route as a first one to try, the bike-hotel-bike approach is definitely a winner.

We used my cell phone to navigate, which meant that most of time I didn't have access to a camera. That didn't really matter, as we were whizzing along and there's no way Shira was going to stop while I played landscape photographer. So many classic photos rolled by. Still, here's a few photos from our adventure:

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