Tag Archives: C&O canal towpath

Bike Ride Day 5: Harper’s Ferry to D.C. (not quite!)

“We are gonna make it. We traveled all this way I just want to finish this dang thing,” my dad said as we peeled off layers of soaking wet clothing, covered in muck and grime, 35.5 miles from D.C.

The weather forecast for today had never looked good: 70% chance of rain at 7am and 70-80% rain for the rest of the day. So at 6am this morning just as the sun rose we departed from Harper’s Ferry, WV.

IMG_1587
It’s dawn and we are already on our bikes. No rain yet!

For the first 15 miles we were flying, but at 6:59am I felt the first few drops of rain. A few moments after it was pouring.

The trail turned to muck beneath us and my small, lightweight bike was skidding everywhere. My pants and gloves were soaked through, glasses foggy, and fingers frozen. Both my dad and Dave were wishing they had my shoes covers so water didn’t squelch out of their shoes with every pedal.

After a few more brutal miles we reached a road crossing and took shelter at the Historic White’s Ferry Grille. We had made it 25 miles to Leesburg, VA, just 35.5 miles from D.C.

IMG_1592
Feeling dejected as we waited for breakfast at the White Ferry Grille

I had no desire to continue riding in the pouring rain, mud, and cold. It looked like we were going to call the trip. But, after talking through the should of’s and the what if’s, we hatched a new plan.

We loaded our bikes onto the Historic White’s Ferry and headed to Comfort Suites in Leesburg for a fifth night stay with the promise of a break in the rain and a paved bike trail to D.C. (along the Washington & Old Dominion Rail Trail) in the morning.

My day which started with drinking muddy tail spray from Dave’s bike as we fought to keep pedaling through the mud ended with a trip to the movie theater and bike shop in Leesburg. And tomorrow we will finish this dang thing.

Daily mileage: 25 miles

Bike Ride Day 4: Hancock to Harper’s Ferry

Our bodies were feeling the 200 miles of our first 3 days when we woke up this morning. Breakfast was a game of mental preparation.

IMG_1554

Luckily the trail had dried out so mud was no longer much of an issue. We seemed to make a few more photo stops today, mostly to get out of the saddle for our sore butts.

IMG_1550

My dad also took advantage of Dave’s muscle strength at each stop. Dave rubbed out my dad’s sore shoulder every 10 miles or so with the reward of an open invitation to join any future bike trip.

Mid-ride today a falling rock detour that took us through a neighborhood for a few miles. The paved road was a nice break but it also added a few hundred feet to our max elevation for the day.

Around 3pm we had nearly made it to our destination for the night. Staying in Harper’s Ferry meant carrying our bikes up a large spiral staircase in Maryland, across a bridge, and into West Virginia. The historic town of Harper’s Ferry, WV sits at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers and is nearly the midpoint of the Appalachian Trail.

Turns out everything in this historic town closes around 6pm. We had to order our dinner quickly because even the restaurants were closing shop. With no television or sports bar to watch the Penguin’s hockey game we opted for an evening stroll.

IMG_1582

Tonight I will sleep at Town’s Inn which was built in 1840. Unfortunately, there are 3 flights of stairs to get to my room. I’m about to hobble to bed now.

Daily mileage: 66 miles