Day 16, Pilgrim Spokes – Into Maryland

A beautiful autumn morning in western Maryland and a broken chain

Our morning ride out of Grantsville begins with a stunning sunrise over the historic Casselman Bridge as we pedal out of town, followed by mile upon mile of pastoral surroundings as we make our way toward Cumberland, which is the perfect salve to heal our memories of our “day from hell” on the previous day.

After a hearty breakfast of chicken fried steak in the little town of Frostburg, we glide down into Cumberland, then begin a day of up and down climbing as we make our way along friendly and lightly travelled roads into the town of Hancock late in the afternoon, where we pick up a bicycle trail to follow for five or ten miles. It’s a beautiful ride along the trail with dappled shadows dancing beneath our tires, and it ends too quickly as we find our way back over to US 40. Soon afterwards, Dave breaks a chain as he’s climbing a little hill, offering us our first real mechanical breakdown of the trip all the way across the country. Some minor surgery puts his chain back in shape, and we’re off to complete our ride into the town of Hagerstown.

We find an “all you can eat” Chinese place close to our hotel and enjoy a hearty supper over our daily discussion of the excellent day of riding we just experienced.

A cross-country bicycle adventure is the canvas for this tale of discovery along the winding backroads of America’s heartland. The second book in the “Cycling Reflections” series, Pilgrim Spokes tells the story of the eastern half of the trans-American trek, continuing the saga begun in Neil’s award-winning previous book—Pilgrim Wheels—which reconnoiters the western half of the journey.

More than just a journal of a bike ride across the country, Hanson’s delightful and beautifully written story takes the reader on an engaging pilgrimage of observation and reflection. Often hilarious, sometimes poignant, and always inspiring, it’s a must-read adventure that will stir your soul.