Monday, July 3, 2017

Ride it 2017

My annual Summer vacation bike ride took shape during this last winter. I have never been to visit my sister and her family at her home in Leesburg, VA and look at is right on the C&O National Park Service Towpath. And, the towpath connects to the GAP rail trail which means one can ride a dirt trail from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington DC.

Let the planning begin!!

The logistics include boxing up my bike and shipping it off to Leesburg. My sister and her husband are friends with a nice fellow who owns an excellent bike shop in Leesburg called Plum Creek Cyclery. That is where the bike will go. I got a box from my local LBS and packing stuff from the lumberyard here and figure this out.
The idea is get this:

Into this:


I tried to fit my panniers and camping stuff in with the bike to act as padding but the whole thing weighed to much. A different box to ship that stuff turned out to be the better idea.

A few weeks later off I go on the big bird. I get there on Saturday and we head over to the bike shop and pick up Ogre where the boys at Plum Creek had me all set to go. Thanks guys for taking care of it!!
Mark shows me about Leesburg, a little riding all over town with a couple of brewery stops with Jennifer meeting us!!
Next morning I pack up and head on out. First stop is White's Ferry which shuttles me across the Potomac River to the C&O towpath where I head on down the path for Washington DC.

The Chesapeake & Ohio towpath is a National Historic Monument. Built to move freight and coal back and forth through the Washington DC-Pittsburgh/Ohio corridor it was a monumental construction project. It's downfall was during the time to build it the train technology replaced it.
Today's ride plan was to cover the 37 miles down to DC, look about at monuments on the mall and then ride over to Union station and catch the Amtrak up to Pittsburgh. Before I even start I chat with some guys that rolled up. They noticed that I was just starting because my bike was clean and theirs were caked with mud. Seems the week before it had rained a bit and the mud and puddles were prevalent. The word in all the ride journals was the C&O was a rougher trail than the GAP. Looked like it to me to be a rougher ride than the other rail trails I have been on.

I then happen onto my first lock and lock house. There are so many stories and history on these locks and houses. I took a lot of pictures of the different ones through the ride. I'll share some of those as we roll along.

I head on down the trail really soaking this all up. Such different riding than I am used to!! Through the trees and forest, splashing through the mud puddles! The Potomac has some different looks to it which is why the canal was dug. There are sections that certainly are slow moving and could transport boats but other areas that are wild with rocky rapids. It is a beautiful river and a surprise to this western boy.

Hey Turtles!!
I roll into DC and get my mind reset for people and cars and traffic!! A summer Sunday in our nations capital, it was busy with people on the steps in front of the Lincoln Memorial. A few pictures of my ride through the mall heading for Union Station which is a few blocks from the Capital.

I'll leave it here for the first day and pick it up with the train ride up to Pittsburgh.
Thanks for reading along!!


  1. Great start to a memorable trip! Glad you got to cross this off your bucket list!

  2. Nice Adventure! I did GAPCO 3 years ago and would love to do it again someday - that says a lot, to repeat a trip when there are so many other trails to ride.

    1. Thanks for reading Annie. Yup, it is a good trail!!

  3. Very Cool Jim I look forward to more reports, It seems like the Orge is the perfect bike for this kind of trail. Have fun!


    PS I have always thought DC must be a circus thanks for confirming that with photo evidence lol

    1. I was hoping somebody caught the picture framing of the sign for the circus with the home of our congress in the background!! HA,HA!!

  4. Oh yes.....DC is a circus. Didn't know you're a circusfan.