The converging trips each faced challenges today, but they fixed flats, crossed bridges and ate very well. Both groups are now in Maryland!
Your State College-start cyclists had a great day! Finally, we had a few flat tires – as I explained to Noah, a few minor delays helped to balanced out the gorgeous weather and spectacular scenery that was our companion all day long.
Our day started with breakfast, provided by Bill and Sandy Shank, long-time members of Christ’s Reformed UCC. The food was blessed by Interim Minister Rev. Dr. Hodge, who was very supportive of our work, and we enjoyed visiting and learning more about their inner-city ministry. Alex Yaney, our support driver for the day, stopped by at 9, and we were off… except Alex deCarle discovered a flat tire.
No matter, with tools and expertise, the tire was fixed… but then went flat again. Finally, a new tire was located, changed again, and we were really off. The city of Hagerstown quickly gave way to rolling hills, and as we neared the Antietam Battlefield we found ourselves in another time as well. The weight of history in those blood-soaked hills was palpable.
Eventually, we made it onto the C&O canal, riding along the beautiful Potomac river. Originally built in 1831, the canal was in use until after World War I, primarily to haul coal from Pennsylvania to the eastern seaboard – it seems like a fitting path to bring cyclists to DC to lobby for a new energy transformation.
Lunch was at the amazing Potomac St. Grill in Brunswick, Maryland (run by a lovely Syrian family, so the Middle Eastern food is authentic!), and then three of us raced ahead to Am Kolel Sanctuary and Retreat Center to arrive before the office manager left at 5. We were greeted by Rabbi David Shneyer, who welcomed us and helped set up our bike washing station. The rest of the cyclists arrived shortly after 5:30, a good thing, because sirens went off for a tornado warning at 6:00.
The storm hit about 6:30, but by then we were settled in for Chinese take-out, arranged by Joyce Breiner and her organization, Poolesville Green. We had a fascinating presentation by a local businessman (Gary Skulnik of Neighborhood Sun) and a local member of the Union of Concerned Scientists, who told us about the many alternative energy initiatives happening in Montgomery County. It was inspiring, and we came away with many ideas of how to build a positive vision of the future. —Jon (and the other State College cyclists)
For the Philly-originators, waking up the to smell of waffles and frittata was a wonderful way to start our longest day on the bikes. After another engaging conversation around the table with our hosts and a sendoff of song and shofar, the Philly cyclists set off under cool gray skies.
Crossing bridges became a theme of our day. Our most daunting bridge to cross was the Hatem Memorial Bridge, crossing the Susquehanna. Our crossing was made much easier thanks to the Maryland Transportation Authority who provided a police escort. A much more leisurely bridge crossing greeted us on the beautiful Ma and Pa Trail.
Our lunch hosts at Churchville Presbyterian Church in Churchville, Maryland greeted us with a lavish display of food. As we ate homemade soup, cookies and much more we learned how this congregation recently took steps to become an Earth Care Congregation with PCUSA. This involves completing activities and projects in the field of worship, education, facilities and outreach.
For the rest of the afternoon we rolled through the hills of Bel Air and into the outskirts of Baltimore. When we finally rolled into our destination place at House of Peace in Reservoir Hill we carried great memories of another day on the road.
If we are to adequately address the challenges of climate change we will have to cross many more bridges in the days and years to come–bridges of understanding seeking to build common ground around shared values of caring for this planet that we all share. To cross these bridges we will need courage, perseverance, moral clarity, and the help of many to reach our goal of bringing healing to our land with justice for all.
John Stoltzfus (and the Philadelphia Ride Crew)
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