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  • Writer's picturePatrick Baechle

New roads and old towns

The last two days have been brutal for cycling. A majority of my riding has been on state highways with a smattering of off road trails, for relief, now and then. I think I have passed through more than a dozen major freeway overpasses. I am following the route of the 911 memorial trail but, I think these sections need a few alternative routes. I am assuming, with all of the surrounding countryside, that there might be some pleasant country farm roads to traverse the state.

Not to be a total crank, I do give credit to both the State of Maryland and the State of Delaware, for providing super wide 8 foot shoulders along their highways, with abundant bicycle lane markings, bicycle friendly intersections and adequate share the road signage. These made me feel safe. I also have to say that these people respect cyclists and always stop to let you cross a street. Even with all these features, cyclists do not like to share the same space with vehicles. We prefer the back roads, trails and quieter spaces.

That being said, I thought it was good timing that I was departing from Baltimore on early Sunday morning. Traffic was essentially non existent. I was able to putter around, zig zaggiing back and forth on the downtown streets, taking in the magnificent historic architecture and enjoying views of the public monuments. You know, I never really truly explored Baltimore but, now I am intrigued to come back and check out more of it. There is a lot more here than I thought and the city was clean and the people were freindly.

Late in the day I connected to the Torrey C Brown Rail Trail. It was full of walkers and riders the entire way. At the end of the trail I stopped for a pulled pork sandwich in this small town of Monkton, Maryland. As I was sitting in the dining room I overhead the owner taking with another guest about how the trail and the river activities had become so popular that they could not resolve the parking issues. I thought in my mind, what a terrible problem to have. This shows that people are really liking the trails. The bike shop the tube rentals and the cafe seemed to be doing robust business.

As I was eating my sandwich I was thinking to myself "am I nuts?" Then I looked up and right in front of me was this sign, made by a kid. It made me smile

At the end of the day I arrived at Harve de Grace. I road over 60 miles to get there. I'm not sure why I was so intrigued with this destination and so compelled to get there. I think I just liked the name "Harve de Grace" and; it was a waterfront town and; I could see boat docks protruding into the bay on the map; and that meant there was some kind of nautical culture there. Maybe Washington eletes came up from DC., on their yatchs, like in St Micheals, and there were old world woody resturaunts with boat models and sailing gear mounted on the walls; and the restaurants were alive with business and political intrigue and lively discussion; and there were beautiful old inns there, in repurporposed retired historic counting houses and; I could sleep in loft of a famous sailers widows house.

But no. There was a snack bar, at the docks, and I stayed at the Super 8.

The town was pretty nice though. Very well preserved with many fine shops.

Now I am back on the roadways heading toward the University of Delaware. It's a long hard day of pedaling, very humid and noisy with vehicle traffic and road construction. Half the time I don't know where I am. Everything here, for the last two days, looks the same as anywhere else in America. Endless strip malls, gas stations, and box buildings with too much signage. I just want to get somewhere. Somewhere authentic. A small town. With a nice Inn and and an old pub. I set my sights on New Castle Delaware, because it's on the water and .... well... you've heard this story before.

But, I arrived at Newcastle around 7pm found this beautiful bed and breakfast. And had a nice dinner at the local tavern four doors down. I just unknowingly stepped into one of the oldest colonial towns in America. 350 years old. Once the Nation's capitol for 6 months. The first draft of the Declaration of Independence was read off of the balcony of the courthouse right across the street from my B&B. This town, on the Delaware River is so rich in history I just wanted to stay for awhile to try and absorb some more of it.

This surepeticios discovery made all of the struggle to get there worth it. Thanks for leading me there trail blazers. It is a very cool place.

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