Trip Log – Day 269 – North Bethesda, MD to Harper’s Ferry, WV

to Harper's Ferry WVJuly 31, 2016 – Overcast, 85 degrees

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.

IMG_7281 IMG_7283 IMG_7284

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.

IMG_7285And then, with the abrupt end of sewer and water, development ceased and I was in the country. Farms and forests and narrow roads I shared with occasional drivers.

IMG_7291 Monocacy to Dickerson 2016-07-31 004

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.

IMG_7294 IMG_7302 IMG_7304

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.

IMG_7299I found my son Andy’s photo, May 12, 2010, when he stopped here as an Appalachian Trail Thru-hiker.

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…

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About paulefallon

Greetings reader. I am a writer, architect, cyclist and father from Cambridge, MA. My primary blog, theawkwardpose.com is an archive of all my published writing. The title refers to a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity. The objective is balance without stability. My writing addresses opposing tension in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition. During 2015-2106 I am cycling through all 48 mainland United States and asking the question "How will we live tomorrow?" That journey is chronicled in a dedicated blog, www.howwillwelivetomorrw.com, that includes personal writing related to my adventure as well as others' responses to my question. Thank you for visiting.
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