Chicago to Washington 2013

Chicago to Washington DC June/July 2013 June 17 - Our blog about our trip to Chicago and ride to Washington DC starts here! ________________________________________________________________________
It’s in the bag June 17 - Three days to go before we set off on our latest cycling adventure. No matter how many time I promise to be very, very organised, there always seems to be a long ‘to do’ list of things to finish off … Continue reading
Our proposed route June 17 - We’re expecting to cycle just under 900 miles from Chicago to Washington DC. Our route takes into six US states: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland. We’ll visit Dayton, Columbus and Pittsburgh. Our friend Mike is joining us … Continue reading
It’s in the other bag June 18 - Packing my bag for our cycling holiday is a very quick affair. The ‘luggage limit’ imposed not by Virgin Atlantic, but by Mike might even be considered mean by Ryanair! One small front Ortlieb pannier is all that is permitted. … Continue reading
’twas the night before… June 19 - As is customary on our holidays, the night before is a tiring and fraught experience. Who would want to spend the time relaxing or ‘chilling out’, when instead we can spend half an hour debating such thing as whether or … Continue reading
The end of the latest academic round June 20 - There are several reasons why we were so late getting to bed last night, (it was 2:30 am – and we were catching a 5:30 am train!). Loathe though I am to admit it, but Matthew is right with his … Continue reading
Today’s Mum’s birthday – Happy birthday Mum! June 20 - Today we’re setting off for Chicago and it’s also my Mum’s birthday. I’d better not write how old, as I’d be in trouble if that particular number was broadcast very far! I’m a little sad that we won’t get to … Continue reading
We’ve just flown into the Windy City! June 21 - The Windy City in question, is of course Chicago – and as the song goes ‘It’s mighty pretty’. Well, from what we’ve seen of it so far. It isn’t actually that windy, (fortunately), and the title originates from the nickname … Continue reading
Making an entrance June 21 - As previously mentioned on this blog, the bike bags attract attention wherever we go. Our arrival in Chicago has been no exception. It was a great relief to see the bags both appear on the over-sized luggage carousel shortly after … Continue reading
Summary – day 01 – Bristol to Chicago – Planes and trains and automobiles … and buses and bicycles and walking June 21 - It was a mammoth journey to get to Chicago from Bristol. We took a train from Bristol to Reading , but we couldn’t cycle to the railway station as we normally would because we’d had to pack our touring bicycles … Continue reading
Watership Down-town June 22 - One of the major reasons that I wanted to come to Chicago was to visit the Millennium Park. Opened in 2004 – (four years late, so the Brits are not the only ones who can’t meet a deadline!), it’s on … Continue reading
Music in the park with Mike June 22 - While plants and gardens are my passion, Mike loves classical music. We were really lucky to be in Millennium Park as the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra were rehearsing for a performance in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, which was designed by … Continue reading
Spouting off June 22 - The Crown Fountain in Millenium Park is such fun – you can see from this short film just how popular it is with kids and adults alike – no ‘keep out of the fountain’ signs here! The work designed by … Continue reading
Heads in the Cloud June 22 - The Cloud Gate artwork in Millennium Park is amazing – beautifully simple, but it attracts and engages people with modern art in a way I’ve never seen before. The polished steel creates a superb reflective surface that not only captures … Continue reading
Jolly hockey, umm – skyscrapers June 22 - After dinner last night Bonnie took us up to the 23rd floor of her apartment building (Museum Place) to see the residents’ gym, community room and open-air rooftop pool – all with fantastic views across the city downtown skyline and … Continue reading
Show you love them … with a bicycle June 22 - It isn’t going to come as a surprise to anyone who knows us that we love bicycles! Why else would we choose to spend our holidays cycling nearly 900 miles across the USA, when most people would take a plane, … Continue reading
Plant envy June 22 - I love visiting different climate zones and seeing what sort of plants grow there. I kind of expected to see lots of grasses, echinacea (cone flowers) and other prairie-style plants in Chicago, but what has surprised me is the number … Continue reading
Summary – day 02 – Chicago (Friday 21 June) June 22 - I woke up very early – 4 am, (which would be 10 am in the UK as Chicago is six hours behind – so that has to count as something of a lie-in). I managed to snooze for another hour, … Continue reading
Going Loopy June 23 - We’ve had a wonderful couple of days in Chicago – being given lots of insider tips and knowledge from Bonnie, which is a real bonus of staying with local people through the Warm Showers scheme. There was one real tourist … Continue reading
Music in the park with Mike (part 2) June 23 - Sadly, we bid farewell to Chicago today. As Dorris Day would say: ‘It might not have what we got’ but it certainly has a lot else. We had a fabulous visit and would love to come back again. We’ll be … Continue reading
Summary – day 03 – Chicago (Saturday 22 June) June 23 - Today our friends Ed and Pete were married. Warmest best wishes to them both! We were really sorry that we weren’t able to be there. They told us of their wedding plans about a week after we had booked our … Continue reading
Indiana McBeth June 23 - We’re having a short break on the first cycling stage of our trip. Professional cyclists eat on the go, but there are no musette bags for us! It is mighty hot today – about 80F/27C, so for once I’m quite … Continue reading
What we know about Indiana June 24 - Indiana has a population of 6 million – and from what I’ve seen so far they mostly live in the middle of nowhere, (although this isn’t actually the case – 77.7% of Indiana residents lived in metropolitan counties, 16.5% lived … Continue reading
The Great British Bike-Bake Off June 24 - I enjoy cooking, and I’ve always been a fan-oven user, (and I’ve never been disappointed with the results), but I have never considered combining my love of baking with my love of biking – until now. Cycling yesterday from Chicago, … Continue reading
Summary – day 04 – Chicago to Rochester (Sunday 23 June) June 24 - Estimated mileage: 122, actual: 126.5 Avg. speed: 15.5mph We expected that today would be the longest ride of the whole trip, so we wanted to set off early. Perhaps inevitably then, we faffed about for ages packing our bags and … Continue reading
From rails to trails June 25 - In the UK we have seen over the past 15 years the creation of the National Cycle Network, often bringing disused railways back into use as walking and cycle paths. Many people back in the UK might be surprised to … Continue reading
Summary – day 05 – Rochester to Muncie (Monday 24 June) June 25 - Estimated mileage: 92 actual: 87.58 Avg. speed: 13.9 mph Cumulative distance: 214.08 miles Woke up feeling a bit stiff and sore That was a long day in the saddle yesterday! I have had quite a sore back in the weeks … Continue reading
Missing my breakfast mate June 25 - Breakfast in the USA, like almost every other meal seems to be dominated by sweet things. Cereals, waffles, muffins, pastries and (a little bit of) fruit are in abundance. Now I like a fruity bun in the morning as much … Continue reading
A message from Chicago June 25 - This e-mail message came in from Bonnie this morning: Visiting Chicago Great to hear from you and am glad you made it to Rochester safely. Frank and I enjoyed having you both as our guests and regretted that the visit … Continue reading
A Cardinal shame June 26 - In a country with a serious weight problem building in ‘active travel’ solution (as we call them in the UK) is a ‘no brainer’. Good quality walking and cycle routes, close to where people live is a good way to … Continue reading
Animal manic June 26 - Riding at around 15 miles an hour is the perfect speed to take in not just the scenery but also the wildlife – and there has been lots of it! On our first ride of this trip (just after the … Continue reading
Blog widow June 26 - There is a familiar phrase that is heard in our house – a phrase uttered almost exclusively by Michael. It goes something like this ‘you’re always glued to your iPad/iPhone’. It’s a fair-cop, I admit it. I cannot sit still … Continue reading
What we (didn’t) know (until we looked it up) about Ohio June 26 - Ohio is the seventh most populous state in the union with 11.5 million people living here. Ohio’s population growth lags that of the entire United States, and Caucasians are found in a greater density than the United States average. The … Continue reading
Not so grand June 27 - As with previous US cycle trips we’ve been splitting our accommodation between Warm Showers (WS) – the network of touring cyclist and friends of touring cyclists (some hosts are not even riders) and hotels/motels. The WS hosts have been great … Continue reading
Summary – day 06 – Muncie to Dayton (Tuesday 25 June) June 27 - Estimated mileage: 86 miles actual: 86.69 Avg. speed: 15.4 mph Cumulative distance: 300.77 miles We left the Hampton Hotel and headed into Muncie, to pick up the Cardinal trail which is part if the Rails to Trails network and would … Continue reading
London calling June 27 - It’s been a British kind of cycling day today – first the customer service at the Dayton Grand was very British, (in a not very helpful sort of way) and not what we’re used to in the USA. Then we … Continue reading
High speed (t)rails June 27 - There is a great discussion in parts of the UK right now about the government’s proposed second high-speed rail route. The first phase of this line would pass through some very picturesque parts of the country such as the Chiltern … Continue reading
Groundhog Day June 27 - It turns out today’s riding was a bit like yesterday’s with more miles of great Rail to Trail routes – although we weren’t awoken by the sound of Sonny and Cher singing ‘I got you babe’. We did, however, become … Continue reading
The other America June 27 - The image of the USA that we’re fed in Europe is often very far removed from the experiences we have when we cycle here. The news and cinema footage would have you believe that Americans are all red-neck, gun-touting, inward-looking, … Continue reading
A cunning plan June 27 - In preparing for this trip I have been quite organised. I have prepared lots of plans – routes (check), accommodation (check), bag packing list (check). In fact I thought I had everything covered until yesterday! Whilst reading the Ohio Bike … Continue reading
Summary – day 07 – Dayton to Columbus (Wednesday 26 June) June 27 - Estimated mileage: 87 miles actual: 85.98 Avg. speed: 15.0 mph Cumulative distance: 385.72 miles Our cycling kit was still a little damp this morning after we’d rinsed it out in the hotel bathtub last night, so our plan to take … Continue reading
Hog-central June 28 - There’s a saying in the UK that if you’re waiting for a bus for a long time then inevitably when it does arrive, two will come along. We’ve had a similar experience today with our new furry friend the Groundhog. … Continue reading
Move over Red Hand Gang June 28 - Those of us who grew up in the 1970s will remember the action children’s TV ‘The Red Hand Gang’. This group of inner-city American kids would solve crimes and then leave their red hand mark on fences in the neighbourhood … Continue reading
Bristol bound hound June 28 - The great thing about cycling across the USA is that you meet so many really nice and interesting people. Whether it’s people on bikes, walking or those who just start talking to you as we stop outside a shop. People … Continue reading
Somewhere over the rainbow June 28 - Our cycling trip in the states has coincided with steps forward for gay equality, both here and at home. On Wednesday a supreme court ruling struck down the controversial federal Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA) that discriminated against gay couples … Continue reading
A video message from the Hoover Dam (not that one, the other one) June 28 - As we cycled out of Columbus we crossed the Hoover Dam, Mike couldn’t resist taking a movie to share on the blog.
Summary – day 08 – Columbus to Newcomerstown (Thursday 27 June) June 28 - Estimated mileage: 95 miles, actual: 97.69 Avg. speed: 15.0 mph Cumulative distance: 483.41 miles It was raining fairly heavily when we woke at 5 this morning, so our plans to leave early were quickly amended. The rain prevented Melissa from … Continue reading
An unexpected (brief) visit to West Virginia June 29 - As we crossed the Ohio River from Stuebenville we thought we’d be entering Pennsylvania but instead found ourselves in West Virginia – a long narrow area called the ‘Panhandle’. So here are a few (brief) facts about West Virginia. West … Continue reading
Pittsburgh – boy am I glad to see you June 29 - We’ve made it to Pittsburgh after a long hot, then wet, day’s ride, (all will be revealed in the daily summary tomorrow). We’re staying with Patrick our Warm Showers host and have met up with our friend Mike who is … Continue reading
What we (now) know about Pennsylvania June 29 - We have now crossed into the fourth state of our trip, so here’s a little bit about Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is the 33rd most extensive and the 6th most populous state of the USA. It is one of the 13 original … Continue reading
Towpath tales June 29 - Yesterday (28 June) is exactly one month since I started my new job as Boater Liasion Manager with the Canal and River Trust (CRT). You’re probably thinking: ‘What? You started a new job and then went on holiday three weeks … Continue reading
Summary – day 09 – Newcomerstown to Pittsburgh (Friday 28 June) June 29 - Estimated mileage: 105 miles actual: 108.5 Avg. speed: 14.1 mph Cumulative distance: 591.91 Today was something of a mixed bag – lots of highs and good things, but also some setbacks and frustrations. We went down to breakfast at the … Continue reading
Water, water everywhere June 29 - Following yesterday’s downpours, it’s been a relief that the weather has returned to warm and sunny, perfect for exploring Pittsburgh. We took a stroll along the waterfront, and there’s plenty of it to stroll around. The city was founded at … Continue reading
Rolling is definitely good for the soul @RftS_Bristol June 30 - When life gets busy, or stressed there is definitely one thing that will help – go biking! There is nothing better to clear the head and help you get a different perspective on what’s really important in life. The pace … Continue reading
Spinning around June 30 - It seems that our lives have become intertwined with bicycles, more often by chance than by design. Not that I’m complaining – as H.G.Wells put it: ‘When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the … Continue reading
Summary – day 10 – Pittsburgh (Saturday 29 June) June 30 - Cumulative distance: 591.91 No cycling for us today – but today is a special day for cycling – it’s the first day of the Tour de France! It seems a little odd to be so far away from it. This … Continue reading
And then there were three … June 30 - We were joined yesterday by our friend Michael, Mike (McL) as I’ve taken to referring to him. Mike is the eldest son of our friends Aileen and Martin in Bristol. I’ve known Mike and his brother Ruari since before they … Continue reading
Mind the GAP June 30 - Today we’ll be back in the saddle – and now we’re three, with Mike (McLoughlin) joining us for the next three days from Pittsburgh to his house in Columbia just outside Washington. After this three leg stage there is only … Continue reading
The writing’s on the wall June 30 - Today we bid farewell to Patrick our Pittsburgh Warm Showers host. He’s been a great host despite us being particularly disorganised at replying to his emails and turning up and hour and a half late! I’m sure that when it … Continue reading
This from Virgin Atlantic … July 1 - Dear Dr Mcbeth Thank you for your email, from which I am sorry to learn that your helmet was damaged. We take our baggage handling seriously and do everything we can to make sure your belongings arrive on time and … Continue reading
Break in service July 1 - Nothing to do with Wimbledon – just no wifi in Ohiopyle. The only wifi in town was down due to the storm. Normal blogging will now resume!
Ahoy pirates! July 1 - We’ve discovered a new (if rather tenuous) link between Pittsburgh and Bristol. The baseball team here in Pittsburgh are called ‘the Pittsburgh Pirates’ while in Bristol one of our (rather rubbish) football teams, (that’s soccer to out US readers), Bristol … Continue reading
The Great Allegheny Passage – video July 1 - A short film from the start of the Great Allegheny Passage.
King of the Spills July 1 - The Tour de France began a few days ago in Corsica. Normally we would spend a couple of weeks following the Tour. But being in the USA makes that quite difficult of course, so we’re having to catch up with … Continue reading
Gone fishing July 1 - What better was to end our day’s cycling than with a bit of fishing? The bait we were using, was in fact our feet. The cooling water of the Youghiogheny River was the perfect tonic to help us unwind and … Continue reading
Summary – day 11 – Pittsburgh to Ohiopyle (Sunday 30 June) July 1 - Estimated mileage: 77 miles, actual: 80.25 miles Avg. speed: 15.9 mph Cumulative distance: 672.16 miles Patrick has one wall in his living room that he paints with blackboard paint and his Warm Showers guests write on it. When it’s full, … Continue reading
Fallingwater (as opposed to falling over) July 1 - After my numerous tumbles yesterday it seems to be appropriate to be visiting a landmark with the word ‘falling’ in the tittle. I am of course referring to Fallingwater, the house designed in 1936 by Frank Lloyd Wright as the … Continue reading
Across the Great Divide July 2 - When me and my brothers were little, Janet – my aunt – would take us to the pictures. She passed her love of movies to us. We would see an eclectic range of films from comedy to sci-fi. We didn’t … Continue reading
Oops – Alan Turing I am not July 2 - Last night we sat down to work out the route of today’s stage from Cumberland to Mike’s house in Columbia. I soon realised that we had a problem. However I tried to route us, the miles were showing up to … Continue reading
Between the Sheetz July 2 - Two years ago when Mike and I cycled down the west coast of the USA we were regular customers at Safeway’s supermarkets and Starbuck’s coffee shops. These suited our needs a) because they had a reasonable choice of vegi food … Continue reading
Summary – day 12 – Ohiopyle to Cumberland (Monday 01 July) July 2 - Estimated mileage: 75 miles, actual: 82.26 miles Avg. speed: 15.1 mph Cumulative distance: 754.42 miles An early, but exciting start to the day. When we planned the trip, we knew that we’d have an opportunity to see some iconic buildings … Continue reading
What we (now) know about Maryland July 3 - We passed the ‘Mason-Dixie line’ between Pennsylvania and Maryland on Monday so our now in the fifth and final state on this trip – so here are a few things you may or may not know about Maryland. Maryland is … Continue reading
Mountain stage July 3 - So far on our travels they cycling has been pretty flat – partly because we’ve followed as many old railway trails as possible and partly because the bits of Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania we’ve cycled through have been pretty flat. The … Continue reading
Summary – day 13 – Cumberland to Frederick (Tuesday 02 July) July 3 - Estimated mileage: 89 miles, actual: 91.93 miles Avg. speed: 14.1 mph Cumulative distance: 846.35 miles Last night, while we were all in bed asleep, there was a terrific crash at about 12:15 am. Next door in Mike’s (McL) room a … Continue reading
Sir Elton would not be amused July 3 - Last week as we cycled out of Columbus Ohio I couldn’t avoid seeing the giant advertisements along the road for a local radio station called ‘Oldies’ – clearly targeting a certain demographic. The cover boy for this particular advertisement campaign … Continue reading
Les coupeurs de biscuit sont arrivés July 3 - When we arrived at Mike’s (McL) there was quite a bit of post for us! New transfers for my Litespeed bicycle and these rather fetching bicycle-shaped cookie cutters. Mike got one as a present – the others have homes lined … Continue reading
A very British affair July 3 - Our ride yesterday and today has taken us closer to the east coast, as we’ve cycled along you notice the architecture changing. Some of the buildings look older – well by USA standards – and certainly more familiar. The architectural … Continue reading
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again July 3 - Would you ‘Adam and Eve it’? We’ve cycled nearly 900 miles from Chicago and have been in Columbia at Mike’s house for about an hour, when I find myself on my way to Baltimore to visit the Baltimore & Ohio … Continue reading
Summary – day 14 – Frederick to Columbia (Wednesday 03 July) July 4 - Estimated mileage: 35 miles, actual: 38.14 miles Avg. speed: 14.9 mph Cumulative distance: 884.49 miles A very short ride today. We weren’t realistically going to be able to get to Columbia before it went dark last night, so we could … Continue reading
Dawn – on the 4th July July 4 - It’s become a pretty regular pattern over the past fortnight, wherever we’re staying I’m normally wide awake at 4.30am. Quite handy for keeping the blog up to date and for syncing with the UK, which is five hours ahead – … Continue reading
Put the kettle on please, Barack July 4 - We’re about to set off on our final cycle stage of the holiday from Columbia to Washington DC. Mike has mixed feelings about today, excited about getting to Washington but sad that it’s nearly the end of our trip. I’ve … Continue reading
The British have arrived! July 4 - We have arrived in Washington DC on our bikes all the way from Chicago – how exciting is that?! The route from Mike’s house was lovely, through undulating countryside for about 15 miles until the edge of Washington. The roads … Continue reading
Summary – day 15 – Columbia to Washington DC (Thursday 04 July) July 5 - Estimated mileage: 29 miles, actual: 32.67 miles Avg. speed: 13.5 mph Cumulative distance: 917.16 miles It’s US Independence Day! We’re not sure how they’ll feel about two British guys arriving into Washington, D.C. today! Hopefully we’ll be fine, providing we … Continue reading
King (or Queen) of the Hill July 5 - Our arrival in Washington DC was timed perfectly with the Independence Day celebrations. People certainly like to show their patriotism, lots of stars and stripes and red white and blue being worn. Almost everywhere we went the national anthem, (Star … Continue reading
Washington DC 4th July fireworks – video July 5 - The whole show lasted 20 minutes and was accompanied by lots of patriotic music – from America the Beautiful to Elvis. This little snippet was part of the ‘Irish immigrant’ themed section.
Summary – day 16 – Washington DC – Mount Vernon (Friday 05 July) July 6 - Mileage: 31.26 Cumulative distance: 948.78 miles We didn’t pack our bicycles in bags last night because Matthew wanted to ride to George Washington’s farm at Mount Vernon today, it’s about 15 miles east of Washington DC. He’d also found a … Continue reading
A run in the sun July 6 - I’m generally an early riser and as today is our last in Washington, (our flight is at 6.40pm) I was up early to make the most of it. What better way to start the day than with a run with … Continue reading
Summary – day 17 – Washington DC – London and Bristol (Saturday/Sunday 06/07 July) July 7 - Up early and out for a run, (no cycling today, a long flight later … and a marathon for me in three months!). It was warm, bright and amazingly quiet. We’ve been to the Lincoln Memorial and the National Mall … Continue reading
Coming Down(ton) to earth July 7 - Our holiday is drawing to a close. We’re back in Blighty, having landed at the very uncivilised Sunday morning time of 6.50am. It’s good to see that we’ve brought the sunshine back with us, but a relief that the temperature … Continue reading