Saturday, June 22, 2013

Delmarva Tour, June 2009 - Part 5

I awoke at first light, sticky from the sweltering tent. Not wanting to disturb my hosts, I walked across the street to the park to use a chemical toilet and clean up. 

By the time my host was ready to leave for his job, I was packed and ready to roll. We exchanged goodbyes and I sped down Main Street to Rt. 50. I turned at the church on the corner, and noted the historic marker for Nathanial Hopkins, a former slave, soldier in a "colored regiment" and churchman. Hopkins helped found the church, now Scott's United Methodist, and organized yearly celebrations of Maryland's Emancipation Day, November 1, 1864. (Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation had only freed slaves in states in rebellion, as banning slavery throughout the nation by executive order was unconstitutional, and thus freedom didn't ring in Maryland. A vote in 1864 banned slavery in the state.) The town of Trappe still observes Emancipation Day, although it's been moved to mid-October to tie in with celebrations of the town's founding - what the residents bill as "Trappetoberfest."

I turned south on Rt. 50 towards Cambridge. The traffic was light, and soon enough I was at the bridge crossing the Choptank River. Cambridge is near the mouth of the Choptank, and the bridge is very long. Unfortunately, the shoulder is very narrow, and I felt uncomfortably close to traffic. Clouds lowered overhead, making the day nice for photography, but not brightening my mood. Once off the bridge I pulled into the first diner I came across to have breakfast, charge my cell phone, and congratulate myself for surviving the passage. 

The diner food wasn't very good, and already I was beginning to regret I didn't do a better job of cleaning up that morning. Yet the breakfast was redeemed by an unexpected conversation. A middle-aged black man at a nearby table asked me about my trip. "I saw you in Trappe yesterday. You asked me for directions." 

I apologized for not remembering him, and after discussion of my trip, he asked a question I'd often asked myself:

"Why Trappe? Why not take a vacation to Ocean City? There's a lot to do there."

I must have been wound up from riding across the Choptank. That would explain the bluntness of my reply. "Ocean City isn't real. It's commercial and developed. It's crowded with people who go there because other people go there and spend money there because other folks do. It's not real. Now Trappe is real, and the Little Red Schoolhouse is real, and the Wye Oak is real. I'm going to find the real Delmarva, the real Eastern Shore, in Trappe and Wye Mills and Cambridge instead of Ocean City. And I'm finding it. Just this morning I stopped at the church on the corner of Rt. 50 and read about Nathanial Hopkins and Emancipation Day. That's not something I could do in Ocean City."

The man smiled. "I'm pleased to hear that. I'm a grandson of Nathanial Hopkins, about five times separated. You'll come back for our Emancipation Day celebrations?"

I smiled back. "Trappetoberfest? I hope to. Although I think I'll stay at the Hyatt in Cambridge instead of someone's backyard."

Phone charged and good mood restored, I set off to the waterfront. Cambridge, the Dorchester County seat, has a well-maintained visitor center, and there's a lovely little park on the Choptank. Perhaps this display of descending waterfowl isn't the greatest piece of art in the world, but I found it perfect in this setting. 

My mood was restored aside from one nagging complaint. I'd had continuing problems with chaffing in the perineum all trip, but things seemed far worse this morning. I'd taken to riding my Brooks saddle with the cover on it, thinking the pebbled finish was the cause of the problem. The lack of a shower that morning only made matters worse. I sat on the docks at Cambridge wondering how I was going to get through the tour. Finally a call to a Bike Forums member brought the suggestion of A & D Ointment, and I sought out a drugstore in town. I sheepishly walked to the counter with two tubes of a product commonly sold for diaper rash. 

"So, you're on a bike trip? Ride far?" the woman at the counter said as she rang up my purchase.

"300 some miles."

"I'd never ride a bike that far. I'd hurt."

"Why do you think I'm buying this stuff?" And I walked out, all pretense to dignity gone.

Because of the burning below, I altered my plans. I was to ride south to see both the Harriet Tubman Birthplace marker and Blackwater Nature Refuge, but I decided to skip those additional miles and head straight from Cambridge on Rt. 50 to Delmar, my next night stop. I did visit the Harriet Tubman Museum in Cambridge, but found the storefront location to be neglected and dispiriting. I left after I saw a cockroach climb on a rack of literature. "Moses" wasn't treated as well as I hoped, or she deserved. 

Heading east through Cambridge, the Ocean Gateway spreads to three lanes of 55 MPH traffic and little or no shoulder. After a couple of futile attempts to find alternates, I decided to ride the monster. If I were killed at least I wouldn't have to worry about chafing, I thought. So after a stop at a gas station for more liquids and the use of the bathroom to apply ointment, I headed out. A few car horns blew at me, but I stuck to the shoulder as far as I could, ducked into a few parking lots, and soon enough the road sported a wide, clean shoulder again. 

I followed Rt. 50 for the next four hours or so, stopping as needed. Unfortunately this bookstore was closed, otherwise I might have spent time browsing.

I took a brief lunch stop in Vienna, and sat along the Nanticoke and imagined how it might have looked when John Smith explored it 400 years ago. But soon enough I got on the saddle, winced, and headed over the bridge in the photo.

Another stop a few miles down the road led me to get a snow cone and reapply the A & D Ointment. I sent a text message that caused some banter among my friends; I advised them I was doing the ride "Clyde-style. I am stopping for a snow cone." I received motivational texts for the rest of the trip, many on the order of "Keep going. Just think of the snow cones!"

I began to feel more comfortable in the saddle, and I headed towards Delmar with renewed energy. I left Rt. 50 for good near Mardela Springs, and headed North on Rt 54. I crossed the Mason-Dixon line, missing the marker on the Delaware border. I crossed back into Maryland at Delmar, and in a few minutes arrived at the home of my Warm Showers host. I showered, ate, and spent the evening talking about touring with my hosts before retiring.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

A Taste For The Woods: Delmarva Tour, June 2009 - Part 5

This page has moved to a new address.

Delmarva Tour, June 2009 - Part 5