Bike Blog 2016.5: Mud, a couple of flats, caffeine and friends.

IMG_89021 The 2016 bike trip blogs are written by riders and posted daily as Internet access allows.  Follow here, on Facebook (and a bit of Twitter and possibly Instagram) with #paiplonbikes.  Learn more about the ride and the riders.   Today’s guest blogger: Jon Brockopp.

“This is the day that the Lord has made: let us rejoice and be glad in it!” These were the words with which Pastor Gregg Meserole sent us off from Hagerstown this morning, urging us to enjoy our fellowship with one another and with God’s Creation. This we certainly did, as it was a gorgeous day.IMG_88631

We began with an early breakfast, prepared by members of Christ’s Reformed United Church of Christ: eggs, sausage, biscuits and fruit – just what hard-peddling cyclists need to begin the day. This is an amazing congregation that does so much for inner-city Hagerstown – several years ago, they acquired the dilapidated shoe factory next to the church and they have transformed that into a vital social services center. After a tour of the sanctuary and a blessing from Pastor Gregg, we were on our way.

On the road we saw a huge solar array outside of town (Maryland has much better laws to promote renewable energy), the moving cemetary at Antietam, and gorgeous countryside. The day rapidly grew sunny and warm, and everyone was in a great mood. We were sad to say goodbye to Scott last night, but pleased that Karl’s granddaughter Carina was able to join us.IMG_89111

Miraculously, it has rained every night on this trip, but so far never during the day. But the result of all this rain is that the C&O towpath was quite muddy. At first, we went to great lengths to avoid the puddles, swerving to miss them as much as possible, but after about an hour we gave up and just rode through them all. The mud caked on our shoes and bikes, and Carina was especially covered, but we cared not at all.IMG_88991

The towpath itself is a national treasure, a place of real natural beauty along one of the country’s most historic rivers. The rough path does take a toll on our bikes, though, and Spencer, Dorothy, and I all had to repair flat tires. So we were a bit past schedule when we arrived at our lunch stop in Bruswick: the Potomac Grille. We discovered this gem last year, and since I have spent so much time in the Middle East I was delighted to find that the owners are Syrians. Hidden on the menu are some of my all-time favorite foods: Shwarma, Lamb Kebob, and Baba Ghanough. We ate on their warm, sunny patio and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.IMG_89301

A set of strong Arab coffees fortified us and made the last twenty miles to Poolesville seem easy. Just before we hit town, Paula Raynar was there to meet us and take Carina back home. We all bid them a fond farewell and rode the last miles to the home of Joyce Breiner and Dave Yaney. These two angels have been part of our bike trip all five years, and they welcomed us with cold drinks and warm showers. Several friends came over to share a sumptuous meal of Chinese take-out, and the riders are now all on their way to various host homes in town. And now, amazingly, it is raining again!IMG_89361

Tonight we sleep well in lovely beds, dreaming of our arrival in Washington tomorrow! Thanks, as always, for reading these blogs and following our journey on facebook – it means a lot to us to have this connection with all of you!

—Jon (and the rest of the cyclists)



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or send a check, memo: bike 2016 to       PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801

MANY THANKS to our 2016 silver sponsors Sun Directed and Beth Richards, KBB Realtor, toour 2016 bronze sponsors The Bicycle Shop and West Arête and to the Rock Ethics Institute for their support!

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