Sunday, July 10, 2011

Western Maryland Rail Trail

July 10, 2011

I'm up early, ready to blog and eager to write prose. The only hitch in the plan is the weather. It's a balmy 64F/18C - the perfect bicycle riding temperature. It's been awhile since we made the trip to the Western Maryland Rail Trail, so today's the day.

My usual ride is on the C&O Canal towpath. If you ever come to Maryland, make time to visit the C&O Canal and spend an hour walking along the Potomac River. The canal was built in the 1800's as a way to facilitate moving goods up and down the Potomac River. I know you wonder why not just float your barge on the river itself, but the Potomac River has a lot of secret rock ledges beneath the surface.

These days, it's easy to ride along and imagine what it must have been like when mules pulled the barges through the canal. The towpath is like some green-leafed time tunnel, lined by mature trees with a full canopy overhead. A ride on the towpath is private and quiet, unlike the rail trail which runs beside Interstate 70.

Even with the road noise, the rail trail provides a nice change of pace. The towpath is gravel with a lot of bumps, sticks, rocks and roots to dodge. The rail trail is paved with lots of people to dodge. And snakes. Let's not forget snakes.

They like the blacktop. It holds the heat. Be very careful about running over "sticks" on the rail trail.

On the towpath, you have to watch out for deer and squirrels - and even the occasional bald eagle. The snakes are all down by the water sunbathing.

But road noise, people and snakes aside, a ride down the rail trail has the one perk the towpath doesn't - my honey will ride with me. To protect me from snakes. Just kidding. He has nerve damage from chemotherapy in his legs, and the towpath is a bit too rugged for him. I have to slow down to his pace, but it's worth it to ride beside him. He even allows me to call him a slowpoke. How's that for true love?

It's time to finish my coffee, step away from the computer, and load the bikes. Honey is at the door, keys in hand, ready to be underway, and I suppose I shouldn't keep the man waiting.

May your day find you riding a happy trail.

KC Kendricks
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