As our Heroes woke the next day, they were surprised at how limber and pain-free they felt. A brief scouting mission revealed that Leesburg did NOT have padded cycling gloves, but it did offer a complimentary breakfast in the lobby, so we decided to call it a wash and head downstairs for some food.
Instead of trekking back along the highway to the trail, we decided to take the provided shuttle van who’s driver resisted our very best efforts at wit and charm for the entire 4 minute ride. It was another quick trip across White’s Ferry and we were back on the C & O.
Every inch of the C & O Canal Trail looks like this. I only took one picture of the C & O Canal Trail, because as it turns out, only one picture is needed. The entire 185.5 miles of the trail looks exactly like this picture.
In fact, the only time the trail didn’t look like this was when you encountered a lock. These required that you climb a very steep, very short, and ridiculously gravelly incline. Immediately after, the trail went back to looking like the picture.
Were you thinking about riding the C & O but you’re not sure if it is your cup of tea? Jump onto a trainer and have a friend blow dust and gnats into your face while you stare at this picture. If you can do that for hours at a time, then you’ll love the C & O Canal Trail.
I know that I make it sound grim, but Mrs. RW and I actually had a bit of fun on this day. There was some thunder and lightning, but it was behind us and even at our “stately” pace we never got rained on.
I mentioned our pace… At Mrs. RW’s urging, we went ahead and made reservations at a hotel for this night (we were supposed to camp the night before). The town we were looking for was somewhere around mile marker 100, but as the day wore on it became painfully obvious that we weren’t going to make it. We weren’t even going to make it after sunset. It just wasn’t going to happen.
So our best idea was to stop in a little town around dinner time called Shepardstown and ask if anyone might be willing to give us a lift the remaining 28 miles to our hotel. It was a desperate ploy, but remember that Mrs. RW is from the South and apparently relying on the kindness of strangers is a thing.
So we popped into a very busy little pub, ordered a couple of beers and asked the bartender if he knew anyone. He promised to look around and several beers and a couple of sandwiches later told us that aside from the cook (who got off work at midnight), he couldn’t find anyone going that way. He then directed us to the bar next door where he said “they’ve always got hippies with trucks over there, maybe one of them will take you.”
So slightly buzzed and in a good mood, we headed over to the bar next door. The bartender there was interested in taking us himself, but his relief never arrived and he couldn’t do it. He then asked the very next patron he saw whom he called “Big Steve” if he knew anyone who might give us a lift. Steve immediately announced that he has a truck and would be glad to give us a ride. He asked if we had time for him to finish his beer and would we mind terribly buying him a bloody mary. I was so relieved to find a ride (and possibly my judgement was impaired a bit) that I immediately agreed and ordered Steve a drink.
I should describe Steve: he was celebrating his 61st birthday that day and he is a wild-looking character. Shockingly white hair long enough to be gathered into a ponytail and a wiry white beard that immediately said “this is a mountain man.” He is tall, surprisingly strong, and of course filled to the brim with interesting stories.
It was a bit of a wild ride to our hotel with Steve, but we made it there safely and without his aid we never would have made it at all. So if you ever find yourself in Shepardstown, WV, see if you can’t spot Steve in one of the local watering holes and buy the man a drink from us. Without his help, our adventure on this day would have ended terribly and we’re forever grateful to have met him.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s edition where we find out what to do in the oldest town in Maryland and what Swedish people do when they’re not making little candy fish.