Miles Today: 47
Miles to Date: 13,760
States to Date: 37
I was happy to head west and leave three weeks of pedaling the Boston-Washington corridor behind me. Maryland has a nice network of bike paths that parallel many major roads, and there was no Sunday traffic, so the riding was easy.
In Gaithersburg I came upon a ‘New Urbanism’ development with tight packed single-family homes giving over to townhouses, giving over to stacked townhouses as I got closer to the commercial center. The place has a Whole Foods / Panera vibe, corporately conscientious. Hard to believe all the little mom and pop storefronts can survive – how many framing galleries can one town support? Still, the picturesque place is far better than the big boxy single-family houses on half-acre lots that littered the rest of the landscape.
Just beyond twenty-five miles out I got on the C&O Canal Trail and headed north to Harper’s Ferry. It was cool and breezy, but the gravel path was littered with mud and puddles after last night’s rain. I’m not a fan of dirt paths, but it was scenic and historical. Difficult to imagine how different life was during the canal days of the 1840’s and 50’s, when civil engineering marvels were just beginning to bend nature to our will. Harnessed mules and tug laborers used to trod the towpath and camp out in the lock houses that are now photo opportunities for Sunday hikers and distance cyclists.
I lugged my bike up the stairs to cross the old railroad bridge in Harper’s Ferry, toured the historic downtown and climbed the steep hill that separates the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. I sat out a thunderstorm at the AT Conservancy, which welcomes long distance cyclists with the same enthusiasm they greet hikers.
When I arrived at my hosts, I noticed my back tire was very low, so I changed out the tube. I also washed down the entire bike, filthy from the gravel path, and cleaned the chain. I was all set to move out in the morning…