Sunday, June 26, 2016

C&O Day 4 - Marble Quarry to Union Station, Washington DC

And the great adventure is now complete. Max and I have ridden the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal Towpath from Pittsburgh to Washington DC.

Seven days, 350 miles. Three hotels (Pittsburgh, Cumberland, Williamsport) and four nights camping. We never cooked for ourselves while camping, although I was prepared to do so.

Our last day was short because of the long day Max ordered up for the day before. Furthermore, Max also decided that we not dawdle around in the morning. So we were on the bikes at 7:00 AM.

This made for a tough day for both of us. Max had a lot of aches and fatigue, but he kept his spirits up and we persevered.

The first bit of good news was the cafe at White's Ferry was open for business, and we got breakfast.

Breakfast was a good thing, because there is nowhere else to eat along the towpath until DC, and the snack bag was getting pretty empty.

The towpath was still a mess of mud pits. I kept having to scrape the mud from inside my fenders. It would pack in there and act like a brake.  Max also is annoyed by mud, in the picture below he is knocking the mud off his bike with a stick.

Once we got near Great Falls, the canal has gates on the locks. We spent awhile here at Pennyfield Lock discussing how locks work in general, and how the water level in the canal is managed.

There are canal boats giving rides once you get to Great Falls, with real mules and guys in period costumes.

Here are a couple shots of the Great Falls of the Potomac.

 Max liked this because there are a lot of locks due to the drop in elevation on the river. He was measuring progress by counting locks as well as miles.

And here we are at the end of the canal.

Technically, it's a little past the end. It's where Rock Creek empties into the Potomac. The real end of of the canal is somewhere back in the confusing chaos of Georgetown, and we took the Capitol Crescent Trail the last few miles because of the smooth sweet pavement.

From here, it was just a few short miles through The Mall to the train station.

And then an hour later, we were on the MARC train home.

And the four miles from the MARC station to home finished it off.

Here are some overall thoughts:
* The bicycle service on MARC and Amtrak is outstanding.  It's easy to use, efficient, no problems, and removes much transportation hassle for bike touring. No need to box a bike, get a cab, or anything like that. Just ride your bike.
* This was a challenging thing for Max to accomplish. Max is 9, and very obsessed with bicycling. He pulled it off, and his confidence by the end is very inspiring. He's rightly proud of himself.
* My bike setup, a Velo Orange Campeur with Swift Industries panniers and bags was terrific. I could carry everything comfortably, it was solid and stable. I don't think I would ever need to carry more than I brought with me on this trip, even on an extended tour.
* I did have a lot of flat tires (5). The cool cream colored tires look great, but they are not that practical a choice on the towpath, especially when it is in a wet and muddy state. To be fair, the front tire, which flatted three times, had 2500 miles on it, and was worn out anyway. And one of my rear tire flats was a puncture which was actually caused by something sharp getting wedged between the tire and the mud caked inside the fender.
* Fenders are awesome in these conditions, even though you have to scrape the mud out once in awhile.

Here is the Strava page for the last day.

1 comment:

teamdarb said...

I didn't see it mentioned, but please tell me you took the hike out to the falls, overlook. It would have been after the Great Falls tavern, where all the tourist hangout.