By the time we made it to Alexandria, it was lunch time, so we texted the guys (who had somehow just made it to Alexandria as well), and met up at Five Guys. Less hangry (hungry + angry.... just google it....), we hit the road. The first part was a great deal of fun; I took the lead to get us to the trail, looking back every so often to count heads. 1... 2... 3... 4... 5... yep. All here.
It was mostly flat for the first half. There were some small hills, but mostly it was luxuriously easy. This, I realized later, was a blessing and a curse: we were able to bask in the beautiful creation around us, the scenic suburban neighborhoods, woodlands, and the Dyke Marsh, but it lulled me into a false sense of security. The steep hills came. I had worn a tank top under my LCU Rec Center shirt, which I was ever so thankful for. Despite the beautiful weather, the hills weren't easy!
The guys beat us to Mt. Vernon. By the time we finished taking a water break at Mile Marker 0 (they have a cold water fountain!) and locked up our bikes, we didn't have enough time to wander around and still get back before the deadline. We didn't want to owe a late fee to the bike rental place, so we waited by the bus stop. (Oh well, it's $18.00 to go into Mt. Vernon, so we weren't going to be seeing it anyway. Sad day!)
But our bus didn't come. And it didn't come. And it didn't come.
Finally, the missing bus and the next scheduled bus, both going the same way, showed up. This was, perhaps, a blessing in disguise. Each bus only had room for 3 bikes on the front, and we had 6.
We split up into two groups and wearily sat down for the ride to the Huntington metro station. I don't think I'll ever complain about bus seats being hard again, because compared to my bicycle seat...
I had the guys back all three bikes into one end of the train and climbed over a set of sears to sit in the (blocked off) back corner, which led to a quiet, restful trip to Gallery Place (transfer from the yellow to the red line). The trip to Union wasn't quite as peaceful as we had to free-stand with our bikes, hoping not to lose our balance, but I learned that apparently you aren't supposed to bring your bikes anywhere on a train except the first and last cars. Huh. Good to know, I guess.
While we were waiting at Union for the remainder of our group, my roommates texted me to cancel our evening plans, and so I ended up accepting an invitation to go out to meet my officemate's friends. By the time I found myself seated at the metro with him, I was longingly thinking of my pillow, but despite feeling exhausted from a long day in the sun I'm glad I went. His friends were extroverted and lively, which was draining, but it was an interesting experience! My friend walked me back to the metro station entrance when I decided to go home around 12:30am. Since I needed to get up around 6:30 for church, I didn't want to stay out any later. Short nights will kill you.
My body/self-perception has changed drastically over the past month (I could go into why walking = leaner people usually, but I'd probably nerd out and recite my exercise physiology course to you... so I won't....). Today, especially, reinforced that notion because today I really realized that I don't have much padding anymore in certain places; my bike seat made sure I experienced that revelation. My quads are protesting, too.... but what an adventure we had!
I have a new, enormous appreciation for Jana's cross-country bike trip!! I was ready to wimp out before I had gone 10 miles.... she probably wouldn't bat an eyelash at 10 miles! Read about her fantastic, inspiring summer here: