Canalsploration

A fun-filled, rainstorm-dodging, out-and-back overnighter on the Western Maryland Rail Trail.

Bicycle Adventurers: Richard, Melissa, Hannah, Josiah, Joshua, Brittney, and Gilan

When: June 3–4, National Bike Travel Weekend

Accommodations: We stayed at a hiker-biker campsite on the C&O Canal, just off the Western Maryland Rail Trail, called Opequon Junction.

Distance: We rode 43 miles in two days.

Bonus tip for this adventure: A raccoon graced us with his presence in the middle of the night; anything that wasn’t nailed down entertained him.

Day One:

Our day started slowly for my husband and I and a group of teens, since we had not prepared our bikes previously. Thankfully, our local bike shop helped us with our last minute issues. 

The drive to the trailhead was wet, but by the time we arrived at our destination the rain had ceased and we cheerily loaded our gear onto our bikes. 

The guys quickly darted ahead and maintained their lead most of the afternoon and we enjoyed regrouping at the Blue Goose some miles into our ride for a peach cider and some raspberry-filled sugar cookies. 

A favorite moment was watching the other seven cyclists pedal up the trail as I took up the rear. We meandered to our overnight hiker-biker campsite, enjoying the cool breeze under a cloud-covered sky and we arrived in plenty of time to enjoy camp. We erected four tents slowly, then the fried chicken, side dishes, and sweet tea were eaten by a hungry group of cyclists.

We turned in by 8:00 p.m., persuaded by a gentle rain shower that ensued for the next hour. The teens stayed awake until 11:00, of course, making laughter among the three tents they inhabited. I laid in my sleeping bag, content with fond new memories.

Day Two:

At dawn, I slowly opened the tent and peered out. The morning was peaceful. The fog enveloped an old stone bridge that acted as a backdrop against the Potomac River’s muddied current.

For the next two hours, camp was quiet as my husband and I took to our “camp duties.” He started out by making a fire and cleaning up the mess a raccoon had created. I boiled water for coffee and hot chocolate. Eating breakfast came slowly as each camper appeared. Taking time to relax by the fire and cook was especially charming. Time seemed to stand still as my husband enjoyed a nap in his hammock.

We packed our camp in the panniers a few hours later and said “goodbye” to our peaceful reprieve. We traveled the way we came the day before and the cloud cover protected us from an otherwise burning sun. Again, the guys darted ahead. The ladies were content to count the deer and squirrels that dared cross our path and we stopped at unique places along the trail in defiance of the trip’s end.

Our trip came to an end at a unique little hang-out on the square of Mercersburg, PA called Just-in-Time where we refueled with a late lunch and ice cream.

Your favorite local bike shop? The Family Cycling Center359 E Washington St, Chambersburg, PA

Bike overnight tips and tricks? Service your bikes at least a week before the trip so you are not burdened with flats, etc. that delay your adventure.

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HOW ABOUT YOU? Inspire others by submitting your bike overnight adventure!

1 response so far ↓

Alex - Jun 24, 2016 at 8:41 PM

That looks like a great trip! If you are looking to buy a new bike online, go to b2brazil.com/transportation-vehicles/bicycles-accessories. This online marketplace lists products from around the world, especially from Brazil!

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