Saturday, October 22, 2016

C&O Canal (Harpers Ferry, WV)

I should make one point clear before explaining this weekend's activities - my Mom and stepdad are BEASTS! They are the most active retirees I've ever seen. With that said, onto the details of our weekend...

Rebecca and I joined them to take on the C&O Canal Towpath from Harpers Ferry, WV to Hancock, MD - a total distance of 64 miles in one day. This would be ambitious enough under normal conditions, but this weekend was unique. The forecast warned of a constant wind from the North and it was not exaggerated in the least. The wind was relentless! It was so strong that I heard the emergency siren when we took a short stop in Sheperdstown, WV. To add insult to injury, every rider we passed seemed to glide along the trail, having the benefit of a tailwind and a descent, as we were ALSO pedaling upriver to our destination.

Despite the challenges, the ride was beautiful. Our timing was perfect to see the myriad of Fall colors on either side of the Potomac. The series of locks and old infrastructure of the Canal were fun to explore also.

After several hours of slow progress, we decided to modify the ride to ensure completion. At around the 40 mile mark, the other three rode into Williamsport, MD while I kicked it into high gear to arrive at the vehicle in Hancock before dark. The wind was so punishing that the remainder of the trek still took me two hours to complete.

The second day of our trip began at Guide Shack Cafe to get the much-needed kick of caffeine to jump start our bodies post-ride. After that, we explored Harpers Ferry. It's a pretty unique town, preserved as a National Historical Park and built into the steep mountains of West Virginia. It was the site of John Brown's raid and much of the historic buildings are open for inspection by visitors.

Eventually we hopped back into our respective vehicles and headed back to Richmond, spouting ideas for the return trip to tackle another section of the 184 mile path.

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