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Wide Shoulders Filled with Riff Raff

Biking in DE can be quite wonderful.  It’s super flat, there are wide shoulders on most roads, and plenty of rural roads to take as alternates.  Unfortunately there are points where it is necessary to ride on 55mph divided highways.  The shoulders are still huge (6-8 feet) but are filled with garbage, rocks, nails, bolts (lots of bolts), broken bottles, etc.  Trying to dodge pot holes and garbage, while trying to keep an idea of when the next semi will blast pass you at 70 mph is quite mentally stressful.

The ride from Dover to Newark wasn’t too bad.  It had all of these dangers.  But it was mostly flat.  About a quarter of a mile from Stewart’s Brewing in Bear DE, I got my first flat.  First flat on day two; it’s ironic how someone told me they put over 4000 miles on the tires I have and never got a flat.  Me, day two. Arriving in a stereotypical east coast shopping center, I secured my bike and went into the brewery for a beer.

The beers were delicious.  The brewery is English style (referring to the physical brewery) with open fermenters and a predominance of Ringwood yeast, although they use others.  Eric, the brewer, was kind enough to give me a quick walk through.  All beer is sold in house; the grist mill is between the hot side and fermentation, and there isn’t any standard fire proofing since the room is always extremely humid; it’s a Peter Austin kettle and mash tank; two pressure tanks for conditioning; and a handful of serving tanks with converted Hopstefens kegs for other service.  The highlights were the American brown, the Citra IPA (love me some citra, and C hops), and the Golden Ale.

I rode from there to Newark, which was just up the road, a fairly populated well traveled road.  Upon getting to the Super 8, I noticed a giant bottle of Bed Bug and Flea Spray – not a good sign.  There was a pile of box springs and mattresses by the dumpster – maybe a better sign.  I was tired, it was near all the bars and breweries I wanted to visit.  I would sleep on my sleeping bag, as if that would stop the little bastards from getting me.  When I got in my room I promptly stripped the comforter and heavy blanket from the bed.  To my not surprise, there were long black hairs on the sheets, and each pillow had its own hair ball of dark black hair.  I headed back to the front desk, where they promptly got me another room.  I returned to the hairy room to get my stuff as the attendant was remaking the bed as if there wasn’t an issue.  Wow, hadn’t seen that before.  My next room had clean sheets, I was tired, that was good enough.  But when I decided to use the restroom it was apparent there were shit and piss stains in the toilet and the sink had dried spit and ash.  Damn, I was naked, tired and wanted to shower and have a beer.  So I decided that hand sanitizer works on hands so it should work on other shit.  Half a bottle of sanitizer later and I could touch select items.  The shower was wet and made me feel clean, until I got out.  While stretching I noticed all the trash on the floor and under the bed.  Wrappers, kleenex, straws, wadded up paper, empty cans.  “Just don’t touch what you didn’t wipe down,” I thought to myself.  And subconsciously, “Go out and tie one on, that way you won’t think about it when you need to sleep.”

Success on the last thought.  Iron Hill Brewery was first.  Eric from Stewart’s suggested the pils, which got me super excited. But I wanted to try all the beers, all 13.  Sampler one went down easy, and attracted the attention of another bar patron.  Damn, I was that guy, the one who gets a sampler which snowballs into other patrons wanting one too.  NOOOOOOOOOO.  I apologized multiple times, but revelled in how exact each bartenders spiel was about the beers.  There has to be a greeting, serving, describing script each one memorized.  The second flight was finished without issue; all the beers were great or at least to style, or designed for guests (I didn’t like the “light golden ale”).  But no off flavors.  After a full glass of Pils, some scallop seviche and fried Brussels sprouts with rosemary aioli, I moved on down the road.

Intending to hit Deer Park Tavern, where according to my new bar friends “is where Poe always stayed in town,” I instead passed 16 Mile tap house and went in.  The bartender was wonderfully easy on the eyes, and the two beers I had were excellent.  Oyster stout with DE oysters, done.  Imperial English porter with sea salt, juniper berries, and gin, double done.  Then Deer Park, the college frat and local hang out.  It was loud and smelled of lost dreams.  Poe slept here maybe once, but no one knows.  Local lore always exaggerates.  There were some excellent DE beers I had not been able to sample before; Third Wave, Evolution(MD) and Twin Lakes.  All were good, the Evolution beers were probably the winners, although I was feeling a little funny at this point.

Thus I walked back to the shit hole the Patel’s call a hotel (no jokes the owners were all Patels), and passed out.  I woke up without any odd itches or welts on my back.
Lets call it a win and move on.  The next day was planned to be my biggest day yet with 65 miles of riding and a new state.


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