While I joke (and exaggerate a little) about Sabra incessantly taking photos while on our rides, we are fairly compatible on the bicycle trail. If the surface allows, I ride on the right with her a half bicycle length ahead on the left. This allows her to set the pace– she sets a good one– and for me to hear with my left ear, the one that works, a little. This formation also facilitates emergency photo opportunities, which can come at any moment. I never know when that woman will clamp down on her brakes to take a photo– of moss, say– so it’s best not to be directly behind her. If we encounter people on the trail or other obstacles that require single file riding, I fall back and Sabra comes over to my side. Over the years we’ve logged a lot of miles together, so it all comes together smoothly most of the time.
Anyway, we are up to Shepherdstown, W. Va., in this reporting of our recent trip.
To get to there, we pedaled a little more than 130 miles over four days using up about an extra 15,000 calories for me, and 9,000 for Sabra.
That about balanced out breakfast at the Town Hill Hotel (and Bed and Breakfast) in Little Orleans. Owners Dave and Donna couldn’t have been more gracious as hosts, and generous as cooks. Served family style, the menu included fruit, waffles topped with peach preserve, cheese omelet, oatmeal bake, muffins, ham and, the signature dish, Alabama Tomato Pie.
I especially loved the last item on the menu. It’s actually fairly simple to prepare.
Ingredients are: 1 pie crust, 2-3 sliced tomatoes, sliced onion, ½ cup each grated cheddar and parmesan cheese and 1 cup mayonnaise. Bake crust at 350 degrees for six minutes, make layer of tomato then onion, top with sprinkle of flour, repeat, spread combined cheese and mayo on top, bake 30 minutes.
The entire spread could have easily fed six and I shared it with only Dana and Sabra– neither of whom could be called big eaters. That left it up to me to make sure no food went to waste. Many are called, few are chosen.
But I digress.
Shepherdstown proved to be a gem of a city easily assessable by bicycle. Chartered in 1762, it’s the state’s oldest town. Colonial settlers came through the area on the way to the Shenandoah Valley because there was a good spot to cross the Potomac nearby. Thomas Shepherd selected the site, which contains six natural springs and a splendid view of the river valley, to develop. In the 250 years since, the springs have never flooded nor run dry and they make a small stream, The Town Run, which meanders through back yards, under houses, across alleys and under five streets. A couple weeks before we arrived, I learned from a local, a Civil War-era cannon ball was found in the creek during annual cleaning.
With a population of 1,734, the town is home to Shepherd University, a state-funded school with 4,200 students. Fourteen properties, including the home of Captain William Lucas, father of Robert Lucas, the first governor of Iowa, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Between the college and history tourists, the small town offers an unusually large selection of restaurants, theaters and places to stay.
Shepherdstown is also conveniently located about four, mostly bicycle-friendly miles from Sharpsburg and the Antietam National Battlefield. I booked us into our motel for two nights here, so we had an entire day to ride a loop around the battlefield without packs. The 3,200 acre site is a memorial to the best and worst of humankind– it’s the site of the bloodiest battle ever in U.S. history– and is immaculately maintained. We were fortunate to hear an interpretive talk adroitly presented by a park ranger and then cruised the grounds on our bicycles.
If you ever get the chance, visit.
If you ride it with Sabra, don’t follow too close.