Politics, open government, and safe streets. And the constant incursion of cycling.

C&O Canal Overnight

Widewater, along the C&O Canal

For years, my summer to-do list contained: “Ride out on the C&O Canal, camp” on it. This despite the fact that I’m not really much of a camper.  And maybe it’s because I’m not much of a camper that I’ve let it slide, year after year. Took the opportunity last week to fix that, and I’m glad I did.

While I do lots of dumb things on bikes, I’ve never actually gone touring. So this was something of a test ride – from home to Harpers Ferry, WV and back.

That’s 112 miles from my doorstep, and only ~6 on the road. If I tried, I could have cut it down to less than 2. I live in the middle of a real city, so how cool is that?

Things I learned:

  • Muddy C&O = greatly reduced pace.
  • I made too many assumptions about water/food availability and backups. While I ultimately figured out that you can use the pumps (despite the NPS taking the handles away), that’s HARD (seriously, my arms still hurt from that).
  • While I gave my bike a once-over for general mechanical issues, I didn’t think too much about checking that things like the fender mounts were tight. Vibrated one right off, and ended up cannibalizing a light mount to fix it (i.e., keep it from annoying me for the rest of the ride).

The C&O is a great place to test things out. Far enough away from things to make it interesting, close enough for help if it really does go wrong.  Photoset here.


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  1. Cool picture.

  2. rcannon100

    Love the C&O. On my wall is a pic from a trip 2 summers ago – just to Harpers Ferry (where we stayed and went rafting). Yes, the trail shook loose my rack and I had to cannibalize my water bottle rack. And yes, I would love to get to the point where I could make it all the way to Pittsburgh. But I would need a trailor for the dog for that one!

    C&O is my favorite ride.

  3. MB

    I was *this* close to using a trailer (the same one I hauled the car tire in, earlier), but thought this would be a good excuse to finally buy some Ortliebs (sale at REI, to boot). Given the mud, portaging, and the crowds at Great Falls the next day, I’m *really* happy I didn’t take the trailer.

  4. antoine


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