Sunday, April 27, 2008


A little known fact about me is that bridges scare the s**t out of me. By foot or on a bike isn’t so bad - my mind tells me I have some level of control should things go terribly wrong; by train or as a passenger in a car is ok - I have no control but I can close my eyes and pretend I’m somewhere else; but driving across a bridge gets my heart beating pretty fast – I should be in control but I never feel like I am. It’s not a particularly debilitating phobia, I don’t go out my way to avoid crossing bridges. But the shorter the better as far as I’m concerned...

So this morning, after standing on the beach for several minutes staring at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, I scanned the map I’d pulled from a visitor's guide in search of an alternate route north. I wouldn’t mind but I’d been feeling so chilled out. I'd just had the best nights sleep in about a month, followed by a lovely stroll along the oceanfront (I miss the ocean!). But now I was telling myself to take deep breaths. Oh I knew I was going to take the bridge - it had been part of my plan for making my way leisurely from Lynchburg, after the race yesterday, to DC, in time for a work related dinner Monday evening. But for some reason despite the obvious scale of the map I’d looked at when vaguely planning the route last week, it just hadn’t hit me quite how long this bridge-tunnel combination was. I had pictured the Golden Gate Bridge, not The-Longest-Bridge-Tunnel-in-The-World.

This is a bad idea...

It's quite the engineering feat. Initially constructed as a 2-lane series of bridges, each a couple of miles long, linked by two mile-long tunnels, it opened to traffic in the mid 1960's. Thirty years later a series of parallel bridges were constructed to accommodate the ever-increasing traffic. I think that was the most unsettling part of it, being able to see the bridges alongside. Not only did I feel like I was wobbling along 60 feet above the sea, but every so often I would glance across to the south-bound lane and all I could see was swaying concrete piles supporting the trestles. The fact that I was travelling north on the older bridges just added to the fun.

In case I hadn't enough excitement for one day - I ended it by travelling across the Bay Bridge into Annapolis. Even though it was a fraction of the distance it was every bit as nervewracking given the heavy rain and numerous warning signs reading “uneven pavement” and “steel plates”.

Give me 8000ft of elevation gain and loss on two feet any day!

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