Friday, 6 August 2010
Cumberland, MD to North Mountain Campsite, MD
78.0 miles, 6h22m, 12.2 mph
Elapsed Time: 11h07m, Max speed: 26.7mph
Total mileage: 78.0
Note: The spike at mile 30 is an artifact. That's where we went through
the Paw Paw Tunnel.
The other spikes are on the Western Maryland Rail Trail. But I don't
We made it down to breakfast by 7:30. Just about everybody was already
there. I gathered a big pile of food from the somewhat disapppinting
buffet and devoured it. By 8:30 all the bikes and riders were outside
messing around trying to get all the gear into all the bags and get all
the bags on all the bikes.
Dave indulges his gear-packing
compulsion in an attempt to delay our
Wilson tries to jam more crap into his
bags, while Balint looks on.
That's not Wilson's underwear, that's what he wore.
Or course, my bike was packed and
ready with plenty of time to spare.
John rode JT's touring bike. Wilson rode Kevin's touring bike. Dave
rode his brother-in-law's mountain bike. The rest of us rode our own
I rode my touring bike. Curt rode his mountain bike.
Curt's bike. The only bike that has
done all four C&O rides. It had
the only flat tire of the trip.
And it's the only bike with a kickstand.
There was a spirited discussion about who was carrying the most toilet
paper. Mr. Balint's full roll dwarfed the little camping rolls that
Mr. Balint proudly displays his roll
of TP. 1000 sheets!
Way more than
anyone else--except maybe Fu. But Fu was evasive. He might have had two
We rode the short distance to milepost 184.5--the Cumberland terminus
of the towpath. Linda took the official start photo. There were seven
of us. In the finish photo there would be only six.
Official start photo at the 184.5 mile
marker in Cumberland.
There's another one of these at the other end of the canal.
We'll see it in a couple days.
At the conclusion of the ceremonies, we rolled out and up the grade
onto the towpath.
Fu was the last to push off.
Some of the
prettiest scenery is in the
first couple miles.
Then it's just a bunch of dudes riding
through the woods.
Our first rest stop was at about eight miles. Curt had the first and
only flat tire of the trip at about mile 20. Not the earliest flat in
C&O history. In 1995, one rider had a flat tire after a mere 1.5
miles after he ran over an "I Love N.Y." pin.
Curt contemplates ending the trip
right here--eight miles in.
If you ride the towpath all the way, you lose about 600 feet of
elevation over the 185 miles. And you get about 8 feet for each lock,
though this one looks a little bigger. I took this picture on the walk
back from the port-o-421. There were plenty of those along the way.
Let's get the nature crap out of the
way. Here's some ducks...
...and here's some turtles. We also
deer and many smaller forest
At night we heard some very loud owls and frogs and
rednecks...and other unidentifiable creatures.
Mr. Balint rides ahead. The weather
I think I took exactly the same
picture five years ago.
We stopped fror lunch in Paw Paw at the same deli that we've been
stopping at every five years. I ordered a turkey sub. Mr. Balint and I
decided to photograph our food.
Here's a sandwich-eye view of Mr.
Wilson finished a 12-inch sub and went back up to the counter. The girl
asked, "Do you need a box?" Wilson answered, "No, I need another sub."
Yes, he ate 24 inches of sandwich for lunch.
There's no cell service in Paw Paw and I needed to make a call, so I
went to the gas station across the street looking for a pre-paid phone
card. I bought drinks, but they didn't sell cards. They sent me to the
Dollar General across the street. I got the card. I made my call.
That's about all you can do in Paw Paw,
Of course, Paw Paw means the Paw Paw Tunnel. For the first time, I
brought a bicycle lighting system with me. No more terrifying ride
through the darkness into that blinding light at the end of the tunnel.
I simply turned on my light and blinded all the people walking toward
me. It must have been an exciting walk for them after that. I could see
fine. It's not nearly as scary when you can see where you're going.
The traditional photo from the top of
the Paw Paw Tunnel.
Curt waits to enter the darkness.
Sort of has a Lord of the Rings
ruins-of-Gondor look to it.
Looking back into the tunnel. It's
about a half mile long.
Discussing the horrors of the tunnel.
The cut leading to the tunnel. Looks
like a lot of work.
Then it was back to the trail. Mr. Balint and I stopped at the store in
Little Orleans to stock up on drinks. The store is actually a bar room
full of locals sitting around complaining about things. There were some
cyclists at a table. One of them was lying on the bench. Never lay down
on a ride...it means you're done.
Back on the trail.
A particularly nice bit of trail.
A rare visit to the river. It just
occurred to me I spent three days
along the river without actually touching it.
A few miles after Little Orleans, we sought out the head of the Western
Maryland Rail Trail. The WMRT parallels the C&O for about 12 miles
on either side of Hancock. The WMRT requires a bit of climbing..
Mr. Balint and I engaged in several sprinting contests over a few
miles, then Mr. Balint just took off. We were strung out all over the
trail, but eventually we all reached Hancock. We headed down to the
Subway for dinner, but it was out of business. So we went to
Weaver's--the site of the famous JT breakdown of 1995. That year we
from Weaver's to eat out on the sidewalk. JT felt so crushed by the
ride that he couldn't eat anything. He sat on the sidewalk while ants
took over his food and carried it away. Then he coasted down to the
in town and quit. JT has never attempted the C&O since then,
although he did ride the entire Pacific Coast with me in 2004. Go
...but it's paved.
Dinner was at Weavers in Hancock. Dave
couldn't decide which dessert he
wanted, so he had both. Dont' ask me what they are.
This was mine: chocolate cream pie. I
forgot to photograph my steak.
Downtown Hancock. Our home for an hour.
Hooligans outside Weavers.
After dinner we jumped back on the WMRT
and took it all the way to the other end at Big Pool.
From there we continued on the roads to Fort Frederick State Park.
There was a hill along the way. Fu sprinted up to it but had to walk.
He refuses to shift into his lowest gears because he says he'll fall
over. Fu is different.
The hill to Fort Frederick..
Mr. Balint marvels at a fort in the
middle of nowhere that,
unsurprisingly, never fired a shot in anger.
There is a campground at Fort Frederick. It was downhill from the
towpath, so I went alone to take a look. It was nothing special. No
showers, just port-o-421s. And there were people already camped there.
The only thing it had going for it was a group of six attractive young
women camping without male escorts.
You know where this story is going. Yeah. We kept on riding, looking
for a better deal. Though there was some complaining for the rest of
the day and most of the next day.
We set up camp at one of the primitive sites along the path. I managed
to snap one of my tent poles, so I fashioned a splint using a tent
stake and duct tape. It worked.
I called Linda and asked her to see
what she could do
for tomorrow night.
The campgrounds are fairly primitive. They have a port-o-john, a picnic
table, a hibachi grill, a fire ring, a hand pump for water, and some
It was warm at the start of the night. But the temperature dropped into
the 50s and it was quite cool. I suffered because I had a cold. Mr.
Balint suffered because he forgot his rain fly, so he was essentially
sleeping in a mosquito net.
Setting up camp.
There were many noises in the night. Frogs, crickets, owls, mutterings,
snoring--at 10pm Fu got up and cranked the noisy pump to get some water.
Mr. Balint says I'm number one!
"2010 C&O Canal Ride" Copyright © 2010 By Bob
Clemons. All rights reserved.