10.23.2003

THIS IS AN EMAIL FROM A FEW YEARS AGO THAT TELLS ABOUT MY ADVENTURES TRYING TO RIDE THE C&O CANAL ON MEMORIAL DAY (the whole 186.6 miles, plus the final few from its start in Georgetown to my house in Mount Pleasant)

my weekend
that is if you care......

Well I did it
now it is done
on another day in half the time (well nearly half the time)
or at least half the pain

I figure that i spent twice the energy to go nearly half the speed
mud is no friend to the cyclist


it seemed like a good idea
get dropped off in cumberland
set up camp for a bit
catch a few ZZZZs
and pedal on into DC
take the C&O canal its 186 miles from cumberland to georgetown (and then the last few miles would be icing on the cake as i stride on up to mt pleasant)
((remember some things are often more easily said than done))


well it started wonderfully
cool weather and a full moon
lisa and dean dropped me off in cumberland
I loaded up the bike and headed to the start (well actually the end) of the C&O
pedaled in two miles
went off trail a bit and set up a hamock/tent that i got as a wedding gift
this was the first use of this handy little toy
I was amazed at its comfort and with the clear sky I opted to go "flyless"
watched the moon overhead
the netting on top worked great
but the contact to the backside was perfect for mosquito attack
I was victimized
this made for some adaptation and some itchiness and some trouble falling asleep


finally asleep it was time to get up
checked my watch
slept through my alarm (as short as that sleep was)
got up a half hour late
it was 3:30 AM and I was excited to get things started
tore everything down
packed everything up
I was on my way
dc here i come
I ran head on into a thick wall of fog
my headlamp reflected right back at me
so I rode with my fingers crossed that no trees had fallen in the nights prior and
gripped the handlebars bracing for any unseen divots or rocks
a touring white knuckle adventure

the fog dissipated
and the wild life was booming
deer shot across the trail right in front of me from both sides
and frogs foolishly played chicken with my front wheel (I did not feel any slippage, so I think I avoided all of those brainless amphibians)
a variety of birds did their morning feeding and swarmed about
and the miles started to add up behind me

the early stretches of canal are some of the most scenic
wide open farmland and a wall of mountains ride to the right of the trail
the potomac somewhere over there often close, often unseen
along with the natural beauty there is also the architectural ruins of another time
numerous iron bridges and devices rusting away
recalling the last time a train touched their tracks
and the buttressing of a bridge that is not there

finally getting to the pawpaw tunnel
a trail highlight
a mile of darkness (well not for me with my nightrider light system)
bats swooping over head
and the spooky sound of water dropping from the ceiling to the canal and echoing all the way
it is quite the feat
and it keeps the trial level
to have to climb to the mountain peak would make for a very different riding experience


okay
this would be an email as long as the ride if I continued reviewing each mile for you
long story short (and we all know i have no short stories)
what was fog on my side of the paw paw
was rain on the other
my trail which was a little moist and slow on the early stretches
turned into a intermittent puddles and occasional mudbog

the first 60 were harder than 60 miles should be
but things were only to get worst
conditions were to get sloppy and slow
and my strength was only to weaken
and my moral was to drop

only two flats (neither pinch)
one rack repair
and the need to disconnect the rear brakes
and I made it home in slightly less than 20 hours

being the athlete that I am I survived off
circus peanuts, breakfast sandwiches at the SHEETZ gas station
over priced and marginally prepared burger and chilli dog in Harpers Ferry
lots of caffeine flavored sodas
several gallons of gatorade
and a variety of powerbar products
caffeine was the life saver all the way

other than the bike
my greatest casualty is the numbness to my hands
and the pain in my shoulders
I rode my cross bike and the body position put me in a position on the bars which fried my shoulders

when I got home my hands and feet were corrugated with the folds and fissures that resembled the rugae of the brain

but I did finish it
show that it could be done, even on the worst day
on a dry day it could offer greater pleasures (sunburn and heatstroke I guess)
(oh did I mention that the last 40 miles were accompanied by a thunderstorm and a downpour?!)

in addition to the wonderful ruins, the pain and hallucinations
the wild life was a plus
millipedes
box turtles, snapping turtles, and a water variety which I would call a slider (marc may call them the american chicken turtle)
no snakes
all sorts of birds: finches, robins, different types of woodpeckers to name a few
several types of deer (all of which were as scared of colliding with me as I was with them)
fish jumping
fishermen fishing
and boaters boating, american life at its reddest
a few touring cyclists
most going the opposite direction
those that I had caught up to talked to and then passed were all doing 12 to 20 mile stretches
a couple starting a trek to Vancouver, looked like a great way to start a relationship (or to end one)

much more to say
but I have said enough already

I am going to ice my knees and take some ibuprohen

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