Friday July 31: Flintstone to Frederick

80 miles, the last 2 Appalachian ridges, and the hardest day of climbing.

Ro and I agreed that the Jen-leaves-early and Ro-catches-up scheme worked really well, so since we had lots and lots of climbing to do today I got up and left, and Ro packed up all the wet stuff and came later. We had 4 long climbs to do, one of which was a double-point ridge, all of which were very very steep and fairly long (1.5 miles to 2.5 miles long).

Obviously, I didn't stop to take many pictures during these hills, but I did get a couple -- two at the top of the climb out of camp, showing how the clouds were hanging down in the valleys. They did not, however, reach the ground -- the first half of the day was basically a series of abovetheclouds, belowtheclouds, abovetheclouds, belowtheclouds. *grin*. The Bee, aka Alan, also took my picture at the same location. Ro came into Pit 1 just as I was leaving, but he caught up again at Pit 2. Just before Pit 2 I took my second picture of the day, looking back at the ridge we'd just climbed, and seeing the gap cut for the highway. We didn't take that gap; we went up to the top and came down the other side. *smile*.

Lunch was in Hancock ("just look for the narrowest point in western Maryland!"), which was undergoing some major street renovation but hosts a Weavers Restaurant with the best coconut cream pie I've ever tasted. Their fruit pie, however, is not as good -- they killed fresh peaches with tons of the goopy cornstarch stuff. Hmmmph. Oh well -- we then got to ride a 10 mile, paved, bike path along the Potomac River, along which Aaron saved a turtle which had wandered out into the path. He returned it to a pool which apparently had about 30 other turtles in it. He's loud, but he does the nicest things. And you know he couldn't drown, because he is still wearing the inflatable inner tube and wrist things. *grin*

We had a 36 (or so) mile stretch between Pits 2 and 3, which was mostly Maryland Farmland, fields with this really weird white stone all over the place pushing through the grass, and the occasional road intersection (which, when hosting a convenience store, was invariably crowded with bikers). We went through Williamsport and Boonsboro, passing a Yogi Bear's Jellystone Campground park somewhere in there, and stopping at the Last Pit 3 of the ride. While they were going to be at the holding area tomorrow, we knew it would be chaos, and not the same. *sob*. They had a plywood board with the Big Ride logo and a hole for a rider's head, so both I and Ro stuck our faces through.

After Pit 3 we had some fairly steep foothills to contend with, but we both survived -- and I even got a picture of an 18th century church just after the summit of the first peak, about 4 miles before Middleton.

True to form, the directions had some of the mileages wrong, but we eventually made it from Middleton to Historic Frederick to Frederick proper, ending at the camp at the 7th Day Adventist Church near town. We had 25 minutes until the Team Public Storage photo, so we put the tent mostly up, and headed over to find...nobody. Yes, it was a hard day, and long, but nobody was there. Hmmmph. So, I took a picture of the empty stage, and figured I'd just say that as usual, Team Public Storage is hard to find, because we don't really live anywhere. *sigh*. I also finally got a picture of Steve, the L.A. guy who is always looking for espresso, and who rides the same bike make/model as Ro, and who is in all an excellent person. *grin*. Paul from the Incognito Lounge got our shirts for us, the announcements were mostly recognition of the incredible amount of work the all-volunteer crew had done over the last 7 weeks, and the night was wonderful. John, the medic/rider/bagpiper who has played almost every night since the ride started, started just after sunset, and I think that's when I realized that the ride really was almost over. *sigh*.

We'd hung out the wet stuff again when we got in -- maybe this time it'll dry. Worst case, it'll just have fresh dew on it. *grin* This is the last night camping!

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