Tuesday, September 22, 2020

GAP/C&O Day 0 - Riding to the Train Station then to the Hotel in Pittsburgh

 At long last, it's time for another bike tour! The Cornoavirus pandemic seems to have settled down enough that this should not be too risky. Just to be extra save, I'm planning on more camping and cooking, and less hotels and restaurants.

Here's the bike, all packed and ready to go. Everything is tuned up, lubed, smooth, and perfect. The only thing not exactly as I want is the tires. The cool white tires are not great on gravel, and not so durable, so I had ordered some Schwalbe Marathons, which the post office failed to deliver as scheduled on Saturday, and lied about making an attempt. "Delivery location not accessable." "Then how come Amazon delivered me some inner tubes within a half hour of when my front porch was unaccessable?"

me, Saturday: "I'm leaving Monday and I need the tires I ordered tomorrow."
Amazon, Saturday: "We will make another delivery attempt tomorrow."
me: Sunday afternoon: "Where are my tires?"
Amazon: "Let me get the Post Office on a 3 way call."
me, on three way call: "Amazon says there was supposed to be a delivery attempt today."
Post Office: "No there wasn't. We won't try again until Monday."

I chewed out both Amazon and the Post Office for that. At least my bike looks extra cool with the white tires. I'm bringing two spares.

Strava and the pandemic are inspiring extra nerdiness in route selections. I've found a couple web sites that will analyze my Strava data and display it in many new and interesting ways. 

First is Wandrer. Every ride, they tell me if I went on any new roads I've never ridden before. They have this big overview map that shows every road I've ever ridden. 

So this is just encouragement to ride on new roads whenever possible. And the low, low traffic due to the pandemic means this is a great time to fill in some unridden segments on roads that would normally be busy, like Route 1 and New Hampshire Ave. 

The other site I like for analyzing Strava data is Veloviewer. One of the things they do is divide the world up into squares, and then keep track of what squares you've visited. They also show you your "big square", which is the biggest square area where you have visited all the squares.

Which is just encouragement to go out of my way a few miles to visit more squares. I added 12 squares on this ride to DC! And I'm close to adding three new rows on the west side of my big square!

Here is where I entered DC from Takoma Park on Kansas Avenue. Checking off squares leads you to some really interesting roads and areas that you would never visit otherwise. Kansas Ave to 5th Street NW is a really nice route into DC.

I swear Cube Smart is the most evil blight on the landscape ever.

And the ride to the train station is finished. Such a great building.

But inside, there are almost no people. It's like after the apocalypse. There are still some of the restaurants open in the basement, but they've taken out all the tables and chairs where you can sit and eat. The only sit-down option was Johnny Rockets, so that's what I did. Good mask wearing in the train station, except for people who work there, who were often leaving the nose or mouth uncovered. 

Amtrak has this fantastic service where you can hang your bike in the baggage car, no disassembly, so simple and easy. But there are only 8 hangers on a train, so you have to reserve them. Amtrak said none were available, so I had to box the bike. Amtrak sells extra-big bike boxes, so this is not hard. You remove the pedals, rotate the handlebars, and roll the bike into the box. 

I got myself a coach seat on the train. Only $45, and another $25 to bring the bike in the box. In coach, you are supposed to be wearing your mask at all times. There was very low compliance with this rule. 

So I am riding the train, and look what I see in the lower level of my car! WTF Amtrak.

That's my bike box bottom right. And I see SIX unused bike hangers. Why could I not get a hanger? These were unused my whole trip, it's not that they were all reserved by people getting on in Cumberland. And I've hung my bike on the train to Pittsburgh before, so it's not that you can't unload a from the hanger in Pittsburgh.

Anyway, it's so nice to be bike touring. I'm in a heavily discounted ($75!) room on the 19th floor of the Doubletree a half mile from the train station. It's very posh.

Here are the Strava tracks for today:

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