When I was invited to bike to the historic town of Harpers Ferry from DC, my first question was, “But which bike should I take?” While the trip is all trail, it was a gravel trail. The only experience I have riding on gravel is my parents’ driveway; I couldn’t imagine biking 75 miles on that but, I loaded up the Raleigh with camping supplies and food and headed out.
We hopped on the C&O Canal trail. A few spots were (annoyingly) overcrowded, like around the visitors’ center, but how can anyone complain about 75 miles of no cars?! It was incredible. People on trails are usually so friendly. Perhaps the friendliest person was the woman who called out to us. We stopped our bikes as she walked towards us with several small green fruits in her hands. I’ve never seen these and can’t remember their name, but I still decided it was a good enough idea to eat half of one. The stranger held it for me. Up to my mouth. Weird. I felt like in 30 minutes we were either going to be higher than everyone in the ‘70s or waking up in a stupor in a cellar because we’d been kidnapped.
Luckily though, the fruits were harmless. The trek continued (with many stops and snacks). We took a short ferry ride and then kept pedaling. The C&O Canal trail is awesome because there are free campsites along the way; we pulled over about three miles north of Harpers Ferry, quickly setup camp, and biked back to town so we could nosh on some food. So many fries!
Sunday we ditched our bikes for a bit and hiked up to the overlook. My legs were not happy with the incline. We finally made it though and the view was killer. It’s quite a cute town with the adorable population size of 290.
On to our next activity: the lazy river. We’d picked what we thought was a close place, but ended up being up and down two brutal hills. They dropped us in the river and we floated. So relaxing. The cool thing about this place is that they’ll bus you from the end back to the beginning as many times as you want; you just have to be back to the end by 5:30 or they charge you extra. We thought we had enough time for a second run…and we did, but barely. If we hadn’t aggressively paddled the last 15 minutes, we wouldn’t have made it. Nothing lazy about it!
Another fry-fest, topped off with some ice cream to go so we could go on the ghost tour. Those of you who know me know that being scared isn’t my thing, but it seemed like a good idea at the time (afterwards there was a rule we couldn’t discuss any of the ghost stories we heard). I don’t believe in ghosts but the man made some pretty compelling arguments and that town has seen more than its fair share of tragedy.
I did not sleep well that night.
Monday morning it was back to biking. I love to bike. Obviously. However, the last 10 or 15 miles on that gravel trail broke me. I wanted to give my bike a Viking funeral in the river just so I wouldn’t have to ride it anymore.
Because a biking trip doesn’t have to be all about biking, that’s why I love riding my bike.
(And maybe because it allows me to eat an obscene amount of ice cream.)