Saturday, September 5, 2015

GAP / C&O Ride II, 9/5/15, Hancock

The Econolodge was acceptable. Really the name says it all.  Wireless access and breakfast was included.  Even though I was on the first floor, there wasn't much noise.  

At breakfast I ran into a father and his adult son from yesterday. They were really going easy on the trip and only riding 40 or so miles per day.  They planned to stop and see whatever they liked.   They were very flexible and planned on camping or staying in hotels depending upon how they felt. 

Hydration is important on the Towpath, although it's often covered by a tree canopy, it's still easy to ride hard and get dehydrated.  I load up with Catharine's suggestion, Nuun. It works better than Gatorade and without sugar.  Thank you, Catharine. 

I rode back to the Towpath and had to descend the steps again but I was on my way for 63 miles to Hancock, MD. 

Yesterday I ran into two guys from Pittsburgh doing the ride over five days as I plan.  As I spoke with them a woman pulled up and spoke with us. She was making the ride from Cumberland to DC. She said that she was only riding 40 or so miles per day and staying at nice spots and eating well. She had an oddly decorated pannier and explained it to us.  The bag that was attached was the remaining bag as she had met a friend at a stop and given her main bags to the friend.  The main bags and this remaining bag were for kids from Toys R Us.   She had ordered her bags from Amazon but they didn't arrive on time so the morning of her ride she drove over to REI but it wasn't open yet so she went to Toys R Us.  This was the first woman I'd seen riding alone (I'd seen none in 2012.). She said that while she didn't like the movie, she was inspired by Wild to make the ride.

If you think that's strange in terms on planning and timing, then you'll really be interested in Thomas from Germany. Thomas lives near Washington, DC and has been here in the U.S. for 12 years.  On Friday night Thomas packed a light bag, his sleeping bag and yoga mat and rode 20 miles from DC when he stopped and camped for the night.  I ran into him at Dam 4. 

Thomas planned to ride to Cumberland today, a total of about 130 miles one way then try and figure out a way home. We talked for a bit and I gave him a protein bar.   We bumped into each other later. 

As you ride along, the Civil War history is everywhere. 

And more...

I stayed in Shepherdstown in 2013. 

Right before Big Slackwater you recognize that the term "food desert" applies as Williamstown, MD is the only place for lunch at mile marker 100.   I seem to remember a Sheetz from my last trip so that's the goal. 

A short ride up the hill from the Williamsport mile marker was lunch.  It was nothing special but it hit the spot. 

I ran into Thomas again in Williamsport. He had taken the high ride and had lunch at an Italian restaurant.   I left before him but he caught up to me a few miles outside of Williamsport and suggested that we meet in Hancock at the bike shop there. He needed riding gloves and I needed a new headlight. 

There was quite a bit of Civil War action at Dam 5.

There were good crowds on Labor Day weekend. 

I almost ran over this poor fellow crossing the trail.  He looked like a stick from a distance. 

The Western Maryland Rail Trail runs parallel to the Towpath shortly after Fort Frederick so it was a relief to ride on pavement for ten miles until Hancock. 

I popped into the Hancock bike shop and purchased my headlight. Thomas showed up shortly thereafter and bought his gloves.  He was eager for ice cream so we headed to Buddy Lou's Eats Drinks and Antiques.  He started with a glass of chocolate milk and I went with a local IPA.  We had a very pleasant conversation, as a postdoc researcher at the NIH he knows some of the researchers at Pitt. I told him to contact me if he ever rides to Pittsburgh at we live close enough to the trail that he could stay the night before heading to DC.   He skipped the ice cream and began the ride back to DC. 

My next stop was my B&B, the River Run.   After a shower I took a short walk around Hancock. The area around the trail is nice but there's not much to the rather provincial downtown.   I purchased an eclair at the local bakery where the woman at the counter told me that the"foreigners are buying up Hancock". I then noticed the gun sign and the fitness club. 

The Civil War in Hancock...

There weren't too many options for dinner within walking distance so it was back to Buddy Lou's.  Not many veggie dinner choices, but it worked out. 

Must every restaurant have a TV?

Today reminded me that the people are the best part of the ride. Tomorrow is another fairly short trek to Cumberland,MD and the end of the C&O Canal Towpath and the start of the Great Allegheny Passage on Monday.   



Friday, September 4, 2015

GAP / C&O Ride II, 9/4/15, Harper's Ferry

Today's ride is 61 miles from DC to Harper's Ferry, WV.  I find that I ride best when I have goals. I was looking forward to lunch at mile marker 35, White's Ferry. 

I checked out of the Hotel Lombardy with the super helpful doormen who watched my bike as I was at the desk.   Quick breakfast at Bruegger's. 

Although I was a bit nervous leaving my bike when I went to order. 

This vegetarian figured that the day would be OK since it started across from the national office for the HSUS. 

A mile or so away is the 0 mile marker and starting point.   First I needed to navigate DC morning traffic. 

Now to ride to lunch at mile marker 35 and Harper's Ferry at 61. 

A few photos of the Potomac and aqueducts near the canal. 

The canal required lock operators and they lived at the lock. This house was particularly nice. 

It's odd that the canal still has water at some points and at others is dry and overgrown.   The lock above is not terribly far from this one. 

Mile 35 was arriving and at 11:30 it was perfect timing for lunch at White's Ferry. 

Unfortunately, for this mom and pop operation, with only Mom working today, there wasn't any lunch.  She stated, "We don't have any bread for sandwiches since I haven't run out to store."   My 2012 guidebook says that the next food is a grocery store at Point of Rocks, MD, mile marker 48. 

I saw this bird on an active section of the canal. 

Luckily for me a new restaurant opened at Point of Rocks and the owner eagerly made me an off-the-menu, piping hot, vegetarian pita wrap.  I forgot to snap a photo, but Deli on the Rocks was just right. 

Harper's Ferry was only 13 miles away. It's the confluence of the Shenandoah and the Potomac. The town is on the other side of the Potomac and requires carrying the bike up 50 steps to a bridge over the river.  Lots of history in Harper's Ferry. 

A view on the Shenandoah- 

And a fading ad on a mountainside. 

If you're not into history then you may want to skip the next several photos.  There's a great deal of info about the canal (mule and boat vs. train) and the town's role in the Civil War. 

Here is a series of informative plaques explaining Harper's Ferry's role in the Civil War. 

John Brown was an abolitionist killed for releasing slaves. 

The National Park Service takes great care of the historic district -

This is one of the buildings in the district. 

Unfortunately, the town's hotels are lacking in quaintness. 

After a very necessary shower, I took a 15 minute walk to a local restaurant, Canal House, for dinner.


A quick walk around showed other historic buildings. 

The town combines its town hall, police office, post office and liquor store in one building.  

I avoided rain and serious heat today.  Although it looks like rain tonight. 

I'm off to Hancock, MD tomorrow at mile marker 124.