After a not very restful night, we woke up to a soaking wet campground. At least it wasn't raining while we fixed our coffee and ate our peaches. We started taking down the tent and wrenching on the bikes when it began to sprinkle again. A quick check of the radar on the iPhone showed what a long day we were in for. I did an abbreviated service on the bikes, adding a bit of oil and actually airing down the rear tires to 32 psi (from 34). I also dutifully rang every spoke in my new ritual of penance to the gods of tensile strength as it began to rain harder. While riding yesterday I had the opportunity to think about my spokes. Before we started this trip I decided to set our tire pressures at 30/34 (up from the recommended 25/28) for lower rolling resistance and longer tire life. I wonder if the increased pressure might have contributed to the spoke failure by decreasing the amount of “give” in the sidewalls? I guess I will never know, but I decided to lower the pressures just in case.
We decided to skip the shower that morning as we couldn't figure out how to dry off in the rain and (honestly) the bath house was more than a little scary. While the bikes warmed up before we set off, I noticed that my tail light wasn't lit. The brake light still worked, but I had no running light. Fortunately we had an auxiliary bicycle light (my dad insisted that we have them for heavy traffic) that I clipped on and set to continuous red. We hopped on the bikes and headed out once again and strained to see any clearing in the distance.
Our route for the day was confusing. In order to stay off the interstates, the route involved so many different roads that I actually had to write them out as a list. Our missing paper map also added to the confusion since I couldn't check the directions against reality. For a while we were on a different rural highway every 10 miles or so. And it rained, and rained, and rained. It rained for the first 8 hours of the trip: occasionally it sprinkled, occasionally it poured, but the water never stopped. And it was cold. The highest temperature we saw was about 65 degrees. Our gear was purchased with Africa, India, and SE Asia in mind, so warm it isn't. We stopped shortly after we started the ride and cinched up all our vents. Later we donned our fleece pullovers, and by the end of the ride we were shivering. We didn't break out our wool base layers but, in retrospect, should have.
We stopped for lunch in the early afternoon at McDeath, which looked like the warmest and driest place in whatever that town was. We sat and ate for a while as we watched the rain continue to soak our bikes. The gear mostly did what it was supposed to: the Dariens kept the rain out, and our Ortliebs and Pelicans kept our stuff dry. Our boots, however, appear to only be waterproof for 6 hours or so, as we both eventually found our toes squishing in water.
That afternoon we rode out of Virginia into West Virginia, through Maryland, and into southern Pennsylvania. The roads in places were as steep as many in the Rockies, and some may have been steeper. Re and I found ourselves struggling up some of the hills in third gear and had to resort to second gear on more than a few occasions. The roads here were beautiful and twisty, and they would have been a lot more fun in better weather (and on a bigger bike). The rain finally stopped somewhere north of Pittsburgh, and we were glad to see some sun trying to break through. After spending the afternoon wringing the water out of our gloves at every stop, our spirits started to rise as we pushed through the last two hours of the day. We finally crossed into Ohio and arrived at the in-laws' sometime after 6 pm and jumped in the hot shower to warm up. Eggs and potatoes and coffee also helped to warm our cores before we headed off to bed.
299 Miles and 5 states in about 10 hours today. The bikes ran well, the spokes held, but I lost a tail light bulb.