It was a sunny day. It was a good day. It was a day the likes of which poets write and folk singers make anthems. It was the day of the Great Bicycle Adventure.
With the help of a local bike ninja and sometime blog commenter, IrishPirate, Mrs. RW and I took a brief tour around Washington D.C. and eventually ended up at the trailhead of the C and O Canal. Mile Marker 1.
The first few locks that we passed while we were still technically in Georgetown were pretty and historically interesting. People were milling about and there were plenty of joggers, walkers, and bicyclists around who seemed friendly enough, if totally oblivious to the fact that a fat guy dragging a trailer isn’t as maneuverable as they are.
Pretty quickly though we left the casual folks behind and entered the trail properly. Never having ridden the C and O Canal Trail before, we were looking forward to finding out what the big deal was anyway.
Do you have a loose tooth that you need to shake out? Are you looking for some resistance training for your arms and shoulders? Are you perhaps a closest masochist? If so, then the first 35 miles of the C and O Canal Trail are for you! Fist-sized cobbles are liberally sprinkled throughout the coarse gravel of the trail, which will give you a whole new association to the phrase “Rattle and Hum.”
Of course our first day wasn’t without adventure. We were alternately threatened with heat stroke and thunderstorms and we even managed to get lost on a brief (4 miles or so) detour of the Capital Crescent Trail. In short, the first day of the Great Bicycle Adventure was shaping up exactly as I predicted.
We were surprised on the first day by the Great Falls, however. They were totally worth stopping to look at for a few minutes. Even if this rail did almost give way underneath us and send us plummeting to our deaths.
Because we started rather later in the day and had seriously underestimated the awesome speed-sucking power of the C & O. In fact, as darkness descended, 20 miles behind schedule, we were forced to make an emergency stop in Leesburg, just across the river from historic White’s Ferry. In order to get to the hotel, we had to bicycle 5 miles uphill along a high speed highway in the dark. All I will say about it is that it was a good thing that this was the first day of the trip, because if our nerves had been frayed at all by travel, we might have turned on each other in a bare-knuckled brawl.
Against all odds we did finally find a hotel. We had survived the first day of the Great Bicycle Adventure!
And so we ended Day 1. Way behind our schedule and expectations, but feeling strong. We were still optimistic that we could make up the time and still make our reservation at Williamsport. Little did we know what would await us. Such trials have not been faced by man or beast in centuries. It was an epic struggle and it is not for the faint of heart.
But I’ll tell that story tomorrow. Good night.