I got up super early today, choked down some coffee and oatmeal, and went outside to meet A. for a drive out to the beginning of the NCR Trail in Hunt Valley and the mission to ride the whole thing, up to York, PA. That’s 80 miles, and I was kind of terrified that I wouldn’t be able to do it. Long story short, I did, and along the way I saw a river, flowering trees against green backdrops, a zillion other cyclists, far fewer dogs than expected, and I crossed the Mason-Dixon Line and rode into Pennsylvania where I saw the green turn into the industrial wasteland that is every city everywhere, it seems. We stopped for lunch in York before heading back the other way, doing a little stretching and washing up from A.’s helpful changing of a flat I got 15 or so miles prior. The ride back was into the wind and up a slight incline, and there was that part where I failed to stay in my lane for the turn and collided with a nice old man, earning some battle scars. Then we had to go off the trail for a bit due to a temporary trail closure. The second stop at the Mason-Dixon Line was just what we needed and getting back on the bike for the last 10 miles was like a new ride, even though the rail was falling. And then there was a second flat tire, but A. is a Boy Scout and J. seemed happy to take another break from the bike saddle. The last six miles were a blur as I tried to outrace a possible third flat, and when I saw the cars, I was a happy panda, proud to have made it that far and happy to get off the bike and sit down. I also felt a little giddy–my long ride is just a a couple weeks away, and I totally could have gone 20 more miles, for sure. And that trail is ridiculously pretty. Next time I’ll look around more.