We rode through mountains and countryside and fancy estates and arrived at Valley Forge. We thought about sight-seeing there but it was threatening rain so we pushed on to Philly. From Valley Forge to our hostel we were able to ride a bike path, which was nice. We got to our hostel excited to air out all our things that had gotten wet in the rainy night, especially our sleeping bags and tent. But, alas, we got to our hostel at their off-hours block from 11 to 4:30 and were left without a homebase to ditch our stuff of shower. Oh well. We went back into the city center and got lunch (thanks chipotle for our first civilized meal in a while), used wifi, bought a few groceries, and then headed back to the hostel to check in. By the time we were settled, it was dark, and we decided not to go back into town like we thought we would. Sleeping in a hostel is always slightly fun and slightly weird because of all your so many bedmates.
The next day, we rode into Philadelphia on the banks of the Schuylkill River and did a number of things including but not limited to: seeing the Philadelphia Museum of Art, eating out in good restaurants for lunch and dinner, eating vegan ice cream and milkshakes (!), riding around in the big city and being in awe, sitting in a park and watching children, grown-ups, dogs, and birds, and seeing a late night movie (Under The Skin ) at a Philly indie theater. On the way home after the movie, we rode through Philadelphia’s big city park and saw two deer grazing in the grass. On to New York!

Riding through Valley Forge

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Riding across Falls Bridge, and our mansion-hostel

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Looking at Boathouse Row and the places where David has rowed

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Hanging at the art museum

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Just us at the park

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Liberty Bell and Independence Hall at night. The I. Hall bell rang 9:00 as we stood there looking at it and really spooked us.

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We rolled out early and were immediately hit with the harsh reality of Newton’s Law – the last thing we did last night was ride down a mountain, so this morning, we had to ride up one. The climb was so steep (9% grade!) that Hillary eventually ran out of steam and fell over again, like in DC. Only this time the fall wasn’t onto cushy grass but onto rocks and pavement, so she got a skint knee. She was alright though. We kept going, and the hills were so steep and so frequent that it was really quite demoralizing. The extremes of rushing down and crawling up evened out to an average of 6 mph, an unbearably slow pace that got us nearly nowhere all morning.  Four hours into the ride, we had only travelled 30 miles. Luckily, after lunch, things started to change as our route took us down to the banks of the Susquehanna. The hills became gentler, the wind less headstrong – we were entering Lancaster county, home of the Pennsylvania Dutch, who farm on hillsides we could manage at a faster pace. Plus, the view was so fun – now we passed a sweeping valley of silos and wheat, now a team of horses plowing, now a small boy in his straw hat and dry-goods store slacks, now a family hoeing in bonnets, and so on. The road’s shoulder where we rode was marked with the tracks of buggies. A mysterious Amish (?) or Mennonnite (?) man on a cruiser bike appeared in the distance, and we tried to catch up with him but actually couldn’t no matter how hard we rode.  Once we passed him when he stopped to talk to another man who was plowing a field beside the road, but then he overtook us and passed us again and totally outran us within minutes. We were really laughing because we were in cycling kit with modern roadbikes and he was wearing pants and a button up shirt and riding an upright cruiser with huge tires and a shock absorbe that should have made him superslow but he was actually going incredibly fast like to the point of blowing our minds.And this is the kind of thing that keeps you entertained when you ride your bike through farmland for nine or ten hours every day.  Anyway. Eventually, we had to ride out of Amish country, which we were sad to do, but we were greeted by the gentle and beautiful mountains of Berks county. Soon we were at our campsite. Of course the campground was on top of the mountain, and we ended our ride with some vigorous climbing that made us feel like we were barely limping in. But we made it, and made dinner, and set up the tent – and then it started to rain. We weren’t upset about it, since we’d been so lucky with the weather thus far. We shuffled our stuff around into dry bags as fast as we could, then got in the tent, falling asleep right away, feeling tired and sore after an 80+ mile day with so much climbing. The rain patterned on through the night, and we tried to stay dry as best we could.

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Susquehanna River

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um a field

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hills

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real big hill

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countless really big hills

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the susquehanna

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just hills

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We ate lunch under this. It was attached to an old abandoned shoe factory.

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David at lunch

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This is the shoe factory where we ate lunch. it was kind of cool.

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Amishlooking woman plowing her field with some kind of motorized thang. We saw lots of people that were amishlooking but we didn’t feel right snapping pictures all blatantlike

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the very mysterious very fast fast man we could never catch

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Plowing with a horse

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David in his element studying the map. David does all the navigating. Exclusively. Sometimes Hillary says, Where are we? or, I feel like we’re going in circles. Just leave it to david okay

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lil creek

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road to our campsite

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These cows ran to us when we stopped for water!

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After a cold night, we woke up and put on every item of clothing we had. How could it be this cold in late May? We packed up camp, peddled a few miles, and hit west Baltimore before 9 am. It looked exactly how it looked in the new Hairspray. We were both excited to be in Baltimore, David because he listens to a lot of music in Baltimore, and Hillary because she had reads books about it. Also, we like the Baltimore movie 12 o’clock Boys.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOMQY6k16TU

Buildings surrounded us, and we caught sight of the Chesapeake, all somehow only 10 miles away from our wooded campsite. We found people in Baltimore to be especially nice. Especially in West Baltimore, where multiple people wished us well as we passed, asked where we were going, and asked if we needed help whenever we stopped to look at the map or fiddle with something on the bikes. We peddled north and got to Johns Hopkins university, and rode through the swankiest few miles of houses we ever had seen. We passed an endless stream of mansions and haughty prep schools. Very different from but so close to West Baltimore. We got to the country and stopped for lunch at Loch Raven reservoir, our best lunch spot yet. As we got more and more rural, we started realizing that Maryland was the prettiest state yet. We rode past a rushing river, and down a highway and hit both the Mason-Dixon Line and Pennsylvania. We were officially not in the south anymore. Things were immediately different in Pennsylvania. The terrain was constantly rolling, threatening mountains, and there was no forest, it was all farmland. So far, this was the most exotic state for us. We slogged over hills and made our final turn for the night, happy to be done, but it turned out that our campsite was just on the other side of a small mountain. We climbed and climbed and climbed, and did more climbing. At the top, we were rewarded with a view of everything. We started descending the hill and hit 40 mph out of the gate. Twisty miles passed in seconds and we were at the bottom of the Susquehanna river valley, on its banks. We rolled into camp and took showers, which were difficult because it was a private campground that actually charged fifty cents for seven minutes of water, which didn’t get warm until three minutes in. We hunkered down for another cold night in all our clothes and our down sleeping bags in our little green tent.

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da chesapeake bay

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Baltimore

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We’re cold! At our campsite in the morning.

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Baltimore

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Got out of the city and into the country

 

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um can you see the mountains over there

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Loch Raven Reservoir

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Loch Raven

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Where we stopped for lunch

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our lunch: peanut butter sandwiches and mandarin oranges.

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just so you know we’re always passing wildflowers. like right here just splashes of them everywhere.

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just green

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Even the pine trees are different here

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David takes a ton of pictures. We just ride and ride

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look amish people sign

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It really felt special to pass the mason dixon line

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We always wanted to take a picture at a state line but every time we cross states they never have a sign so Thanks penn.! finally

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is this a fun picture?

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just so much farms

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We set out from Jessica’s house and took 13th street to the Mall and admired the monuments once more. Our route took us down the Potomac. We passed the Kennedy center and the Watergate Hotel. In Georgetown, the sidewalk and bike path had recently flooded and were completely washed away – the Potomac had swallowed our way out of town. But, conveniently, there were 3 other bike tourists stuck there as well, along with a local cyclist who was giving them alternate directions. We figured out that we were all going the same place, so the local cyclist led all of us – awhile cycling posse of 7 or 8 – through Georgetown, down an old tow path beside the lock. It was weird and fun to imagine horses dragging things up the canal where we rode. After a few miles, the local cyclist asked us about ourselves. We found that he worked at the NIH for 30 years and was now a child psychologist. Cool! A few more miles, and the other tourists split off, headed down the C&O towpath to Pittsburg (David couldn’t stop talking about what a cool route that was but Hillary was like, no.). We shot off down the trail and passed through Bethesda, and kept getting more and more suburban. At lunch, we stopped at a pretty lake at the end of the bike path. We figured out that getting out of the city is always a slow process. We got into the Maryland countryside and discovered that it was hillier and more beautiful than expected. We rode a long time through small country towns and up and down the hills. As we descended a large hill toward the end of our ride, we realized that it was getting cold. The night turned out to be frigid, by the standards of Floridians. We got to our campsite at Patapsco, a state park in Baltimore suburbs, pretty late. It had been a long and hard day – getting adjusted back to riding after a long break in the city was hard. We fell asleep at 8, before it was completely dark, and awoke at 6:15, after the sun had risen. We never even saw the nighttime. Read the rest of this entry »

We decided at the last minute to stay in Washington for one more day because there was so much we wanted to see and also because our scheduling for the next few days sort of fell apart domino-style and we needed to some time to rethink and replan. So everything’s figured out now and we got to have one more day of dc fun and here are some pictures of it.

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The Mall y Capitol

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Hillary with rays at the Natural History

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a very large building

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Hillary ignoring the Elephant in the room

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David being overwhelmed by the Barbara Kruger piece at the Hirshorn

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Botanical Gardens

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Look who we found in Washington! Our friend from back home, the Torreya Taxifolia!

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botanical gardens make hillary happy

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A peek of the Capitol

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The Jungle

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The National Gallery of Art

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Exterior of Hirshhorn with Roy Lichtenstein

 

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Lyre chair at the national gallery

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David and Matisse

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Hillary and coins from antiquity

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Romulus and Remus and the suckling She-wolf

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no bog deal, just plants in the national gallery…

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Exterior of the National Gallery

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Shadow cast in Metro station

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Our friend Jessica’s street

We awoke again before our hosts in the morning, packed and made breakfast as the Morrissey family emerged. We talked to Rene some about their past residences in Washington state, Canada, and New Orleans as we ate. We never figured out what he did for a living. We interacted with the kids as everyone got ready for school. Otis decided to challenge Jannelle to a game of Candlyland in our room, and of course we were embroiled in the epic drama of their journey to Candyland Castle. By the time the game was over, we were done packing up our things and were ready to go. This was bad news to the kids, since we were supposed to have our turn with Candyland, but we sadly turned down dear Lord Licorice and got on the road. It was a foggy morning and threatening rain, so we had our rain gear on hand. It never did pour, but only turned out to be a nice cool overcast day. It’s sort of incredible how much more energy we had riding without the sun blazing down on us. We rode 10 miles as Richmond thinned out and surrendered to fields and historical markers and old churches and the like. The ride twisted and turned, and rolled up and down. The best part was zooming past a horse farm into a wooded valley. A bit later, we passed a Stonewall Jackson memorial, and then something special happened. We crossed the county line into … Spotsylvania county. The best county! (David’s dog is named Spot). Pretty soon, suburban Fredericksburg appeared, and we arrived at our hosts’ house an hour before they were scheduled to get home from work. That was alright because we just sat and typed this blog, because it takes forever to type on this little iPod. Vikki White arrived and was real nice and let us into the house. It was an incredible house on an incredible property. There’s hundreds of feet of elevation difference between the street and the bottom of their backyard. Bruce got there a little later, but went out again to go on a short bike ride around the city. When he got back, we all went to Golden Corral! We ate a really weird pile of food from the buffet, trying to get as much protein as possible. We talked over dinner about all sorts of things like how they ride a tandem bike together and how they’ve travelled the country and seen and done so much, and their Boy Scout troop and how they work in the same office together and have pet snakes and make mulch and topsoil for a living but all their business happens in a chaotic rush in the spring and then the rest of the year they’re free and easy. They were so generous and kind. Thanks Bruce thanks Vikki! We went to bed once we got home and luxuriated in having sheets, pillows, and a real-deal mattress.

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The Morrisey’s kitchen area?

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Absorbed in Candyland

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The Morrisey’s backyard?

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Front of the Morrisey’s house?

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When we rode past this we could smell all the flavoring extracts

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Whoosh

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Pulling over

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1750s church

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We stopped for lunch next to these horses’ pasture and they came to investigate

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David picked me flowers

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David dog name spot

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The Whites’ backyard

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The Whites’ basketball court ?

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The Whites’ bocce ball court ??

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The Whites’ house

We woke up in Fredericksburg in the Whites’ basement, petted their mutt Buddy, and made oatmeal with peanut butter smashed into it, which worked out well, actually. We said our goodbyes and headed off at 7:15. We rode through Fredericksburg battlefield, which was beautiful and historical; we rode through canopy roads and civil war trenches. We rolled through downtown Fredericksburg, and left the town through the back door. We got a little lost, but returned to the route. This day was comprised of  many busy roads, and miles of country. After a bit, we got to Quantico, which I think is where the marines practice things like shooting guns. We rode bordering Quantico for many miles, and had lunch under a bridge over a stream. We ate to the sound of machine gun fire in the distance – we assumed it was . After lunch, things deteriorated. For some reason, things kept getting in our eyes. Constantly. Always. It was a bad decision to not bring glasses. As Quantico ended, the roads got bigger, and we passed more and more suburbs. Miles and miles of this. Our nerves wore thin as the cars passed and our eyes filled with mysterious and painful particles. Miles and miles of hostile roads ended as we entered Fort Belvoir army base, which was a weird and interesting town of sorts. To enter Fort Belvoir, we had to pass through a checkpoint, which was aptly called Tulley gate. They misspelled Tully! The army man who took our IDs asked if we were doing our tour  for fitness, which we thought was funny. We exited the fort and got onto Mount Vernon road, which led us to the Mount Vernon. At this point, we had travelled 75 miles, which was more than we had the day prior. We set out for DC down the Mount Vernon bike trail, and didn’t look back. The trail was exhilarating, and seemed like a reward for the miles of bad riding we had to suffer through. We rode through forests, and eventually found ourselves on the banks of the Potomac. Rich, suburban Virginia on one side, and the river on the other. In Alexandria, we got kind of lost, but a fast cyclist came to our rescue, and guided us back onto the trail. Thanks mystery man! We passed Ronald Reagan airport as throngs of cyclists passed us going the other way. Ostensible commuters coming home from the city. The points of the washington monument and the capitol slowly appeared. We came up close and personal with the city as we crossed the Arlington bridge. Finally, we were out of Virginia, which we had been in for all of the five days of our tour, so far. We circled around the Lincoln memorial to find seething masses of schoolchildren. We came to the capitol of America to find the youth of america, so it seemed. We casually cruised down the mall, going east, and caught glimpses of the white house. We were on a mission to get to our friend Jessica’s house, so we couldn’t stick around to sight see. Riding on the streets of Washington was scary at first, but we got the hang of it. We chatted with the driver of a petticab about touring, but had to get moving, heading north. At this point, the odometer for the day was at 96 miles. There was talk of trying to make it to 100, but all talk was put down as we arrived at the intersection of O st and Columbia st, where our GOOGLE map told us our friend Jessica’s house was. Guess what? Our directions were wrong… So, we set off again, riding 15 blocks north. At Florida st, we encountered an unusually big hill. At the hill’s base, Hill Tully performed the most entertaining act of the day. She fell over, bike and all. After months of riding using clipless bike pedals (the kind that lock your feet in), she had never fallen, which is/was a total anomaly because most people fall at least a few times when they first start. She had her first clipless spill in Washington DC, falling over, conveniently, into a cushy bed of grass. We laughed and kept riding, and this time Hillary was able to maintain the momentum needed to go up the hill rather than fall down sideways. Soon we were finally rolling down Jessica’s street, searching for the right house, but we looked down at the odometer for the day and it read 99.9 miles, so we decided to ride all the way down the block and back to top a hundred. This was both Hillary’s and David’s first ever century ride. After topping off our mileage, we came back around to Jessica’s house, and she let us into her cool weird somewhat janky old but interesting house. The living room walls are bright pink and there are chandeliers. We ordered Thai take-out and showered and talked. It was fun

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The White house20140515-231621.jpgFredericksburg Battlefield

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Spotsylvania Battlefield, A.K.A, Mikesell Household

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David Earl Mikesell

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This is where we got lost to

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Having lunch

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Crossing a footbridge across a tributary f the Potomac

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I thought we were taking a nice picture but David had some kind of different idea I think

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“Tulley Gate”

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Mt. Vernon

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I picked David flowers. And if you’re in the know, there’s something else in my right hand

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The Potomac, seen from our bike trail

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It’s Hill

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That’s the Fast Nice Man

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A Portrait: Hillary’s Cannondale

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A Portrait: David’s Surly

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Passing the airport

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Storm’s coming

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Crossing the Arlington Bridge to DC yay

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Riding alongside the reflecting pool at the National Mall

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Noice bike lanes DC

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We made it to Jessica’s