Thursday, June 27, 2013

I Want to Ride My Bicycle - Day 1

Day 1:

It was June 16th, Father's Day.  I was about to set out on an adventure I had been thinking about for around six years.  The (virtually) car free trek from Washington, DC to my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA was finished.  The last stretch near the burgh was finished and had officially opened the day before.  I had the time.  I had the gear.  I hoped I had the stamina.  It was time to give it a try.

Ready to go
We drove to Chevy Chase, MD where Lisa left me a little after 10 am with my bike, a pack and two panniers loaded with my gear.  This was an easy in/out drop off point and there were trails that would take me to the C & O Canal Trail where I would head West.  I started down the Georgetown Branch Trail which soon became the Capital Crescent Trail.  Both were full of Sunday morning runners, walkers and bikers.  After about 6 miles, I crossed over the C & O and headed down a side trail to the gravel surface of my next 180 miles or so.

It was a pretty nice day.  Of course there were thunderstorms predicted for the afternoon, but that is always a hit or miss type of thing at this time of the year.  I made my way along the trail.  Great Falls was full of people and some pretty cool views.  

Great Falls Area
I rode for about two hours and then stopped for lunch.  I had a nice conversation with some eastbounders who were almost finished with their trip.  They had started in Cumberland, my halfway point.

View along the canal
Old time mule towed boat
I started this thing with a pretty vague plan because I didn't really know how far I could go each day.  I had grand ideas of doing 100 mile days, but after about five or six hours of riding, reality set in and my actual plan started taking shape.  I figured I could make it to the Harpers Ferry area on this day and then camp at one of the many Hiker/Biker sites that the C & O has right along the trail.  I took my breaks along the way and made as much progress as I could.  This day's hurts were mainly in my elbow and knee joints.  They were just aching after a while and also the expected butt soreness was ever present.

Harpers Ferry Train Tunnel
Today's wildlife (besides all the tourists) was a few deer, a Great Blue Heron, a White Crane and some rabbits and turtles.  There was also some cool looking bird with a yellow head that flew along with me for a while along the trail.

Turtles
Around 6:00 pm, I knew I was about done and I came upon the Huckleberry Hill Camp which became my goal for the day after lunch time.  It was a nice place with plenty of trees to set up, but the pump wasn't flowing even after pumping for about five minutes.  Luckily I had enough water for dinner and there would be another water source down the trail in the morning.  I set up the hammock and made dinner.  I was in my hammock relaxing and reading a little after 8:00 pm.  

Pump No Work

Table Near River

First night's setup
My bike computer said I had traveled 66.6 miles on this first day.  I was at C & O mile marker 63.  I had pedalled 6 and 1/2 hours and traveled for about 8 hours.  

Day one was done.  Only about 284 miles to go.

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