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I spent much of last evening talking with Mark. Mark is hiking the C&O to Cumberland. Not his first hike, Mark has numerous major hikes under his belt, including the AT. I’ve never spent much time talking with an AT hiker when contrasting hiking with cycling, and Mark had many interesting insights. I learned a lot about caloric consumption, distances, and metabolic and physiologic changes for hiking. Most interesting is that his physiologic and mental shift occurs at about three weeks. Three weeks. I suffer through the first five or six days waiting for what I consider my equivalent because I know it’s coming. Three weeks.

We also swapped “The trail will provide” stories. Heck, earlier this trip I felt like my bicycle seat wasn’t quite level. What did I find in the street the very next day? A spirit level on the side of the road.

Last night something moving under Mark’s tent woke him. This morning he found a mouse and two kits as he packed his tent.

A quick 15 km ride brought me to Swains Lock, where I first camped for last year’s trip, and my meeting place today for Charlotte. I ate second breakfast while I waited for her to arrive.

Charlotte rode with me into DC. Then she stuck with me through Arlington. We coordinated meeting her husband, and went out for pizza. After a long day (and for me days on rail and canalways) we both struggled a bit with the hills leaving the Potomac.

Then I headed south. People on the trails have asked how I’m getting to NC, and my answer has been, “Go south”. In theory with rain starting at 4:00 pm in DC, and 10:00 pm 50 km to the south, I needed to move south faster than the rain. I’d targeted a destination another 50 km to the south with a collection of cheap hotels. I’d planned to just follow Hwy 1, but we’d crossed Hwy 1 to get to the pizza place—heavy traffic.

The East Coast Greenway stitches together a route of small roads and larger roads with bike lanes. Today I (with the help OSMAnd) routed myself back and forth between the ECG and other roads, balancing traffic and distance. Balanced poorly—a lot of traffic. Passing an active emergency response—with a crumpled kid’s bicycle in the road—was particularly disturbing.

Arriving at my destination of Dumfries, I searched Expedia and booking.com for a hotel. As I rolled up to my selection, I realized it the same Motel 6 I’d stayed at last year when I drove up to cycle the C&O!

106 km.

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