How our 59-mile heroic journey turned into a 12-mile soppy slog

I’m not gonna lie to you, friends and neighbors.

Our 22-odd day epic journey from Washington D.C. to the Mississippi River more or less following the splintered course of Great American Rail Trail did not get off to the heroic start we had hoped and dreamed of.

Despite our weeks, nay, months of preparation. Despite the steely-eyed determination of our hardy band of velocipedists.

Ok, I’m just gonna say this.

On Day 1 it rained. It rained a lot. It was a cold, miserable rain.

And, well…just look at us…we’re not exactly Team Tour De France you know. Even the dog wasn’t having it.

Except for the first few miles or so, our planned D1 trek from the steps of the Capital to Brunswick, M.D. was to be almost entirely on the C&O Canal Trail.

Listen, riding the damned C&O Canal Trail under the best circumstances is a sandy, dirty slog.

And when it rains, the C&O turns into a sandy, dirty, muddy, mucky slog.

In fact, the last time I cycled the C&O Trail in the rain, I looked like this by the time I got to Harper’s Ferry.

And I was so much younger then. I’m older than that now.

Anyway, we settled for a short, wet ride on the Rock Creek Trail (fabulous views of the Potomac) followed by a somewhat longer ride on the Capital Crescent Trail into downtown Bethesda.

Where we stopped at a very nice bakery named Paul (I say nice because Paul let us in even though water was streaming off our extremities onto his floor in spectacular cascades).

Whereupon I had a nice cup of tea and some sort of apple pastry while we resolved that discretion really is the better part of valor.

At which point we summoned our SAG vehicles and drove to Harper’s Ferry where we had beer and lunch at The Rabbit Hole while John Brown taunted us from the wall for being the laggards we are.

Anyway, to distract you from our abysmal D1 failure, I’ve thrown in this really cool photo of a ruined church overlooking Harper’s Ferry.

As you can see it’s in even worse shape than we are. So there’s that.

Stay tuned for D2: 45 miles from Brunswick to Williamsport.

No, seriously, we’re really gonna go through with it this time friends and neighbors.

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