In one week, we will be on the road. Not in Alaska, not quite, but we will start the four-day ride to Maryland. Right now though, the Philtron household is a bit of a mess. This past weekend we gave our first presentation about this trip, took a 60-mile ride with all our camping gear, and got rid of the majority of our furniture.
We had intended to do an overnight on Friday, riding a short 15-miles to a State forest campsite, and then a longer 45 mile loop to get home. When Friday finally arrived, however, we were toast from a long week of late nights and long hours of work both at school and at home. We decided to push the trip to Saturday, reversing the direction to enable a speedy return on Sunday (our presentation was scheduled for 11:30).
The ride away from State College was perfect: sunshine, low-traffic, and tailwind. We really got in the ‘zone’ and made quick work of the first 30 miles. Around 3 we stopped for a late lunch / early dinner in a small brewery in neighboring Millheim: Elk Creek Cafe. They are used to cyclists there, as it is a popular destination for day rides. Jason thoroughly enjoyed his burger. Millheim is a really cute, tiny little town with one stoplight and lots of old houses from the time when timber barons were the high-rollers of Pennsylvania.
Once out of Millheim, the wind was straight in our faces, and it was very far from smooth sailing. I think at one point we had to be in our granny rings on flat ground, just to make progress against the wind. Despite this, we enjoyed the quiet roads that we had never ridden before. This part of Pennsylvani is truly a goldmine of quiet, interesting country roads. You never know when you’re about to find something amazing next to the road. On this trip, we found a barn being rebuilt, a yard taken over by daffodils, and a really really cute lab puppy. It was right about when we saw this puppy that we realized we were 15 miles from home, or 7 miles from camp. The wind was howling.
After a little bit of discussion, we decided that one more night on our mattress was worth the fight against the headwind.
I know, we are supposed to be hardened adventurers who crave the sun, the wind, and the rough stones under the tent. We are supposed to pick the hilliest route and smile the whole way up. But… with the departure this close, and with all of our comfortable furniture finding new homes with friends… well, I can admit it: I will miss the comforts of our small apartment. The gas stove. The cast-iron pan. The mattress, the down pillows, and the internet. I will miss my 24″ computer monitors, my tennis shoes, and even my dingy little cubicle in the statistics department.
But… starting next week things will be so different. Unknown, but familiar and simple. I wonder what routines we will develop together, and I am so excited to meet new people along the road. Can you believe it? One more week!!