The schedule of family events for Father’s Day, and the weather (mostly), worked out to let me get two days of riding and over 100 miles of biking in this weekend.
My daughter and her husband (and two dogs) live about 33 miles away by car in Vienna VA. We decided it would be easiest for my wife and I to go to their house for a Maryland-style steamed spiced crab-fest on Saturday, beating the Sunday FD rush.
They live right off the Washington and Old Dominion Rail Trail and after 8 miles of riding on my local roads, I can get on a series of local paved trails that interconnect for a mostly car-free ride all the way using the Matthew Henson, Rock Creek, Capital Crescent, Mt. Vernon, and Four Mile Run trails to connect to the W&OD rail trail.
I’ve done it before – the most direct path is 36 miles. I had time and the weather said no rain until late afternoon (ha!) so I went the long way – 48 miles by heading south on the Mt. Vernon trail and heading west on the Four Mile Run trail just south of National Airport.
My wife would drive down later, I carried a change of clothes to shower at my daughter’s and hang-out before my wife got there. I decided to ride my Jamis Renegade bike, with 40mm gravel tires, even though I’d be on paved surfaces the entire time. We’ve had a lot of rain recently and I wasn’t sure about flooded spots or areas that had washed out – I went with sturdy frame and tough tires.
I was worried about the trails being crowded, between isolation fever and spillover from the Juneteenth rallies in and around DC. I was out early enough to beat any large crowds and while there were definitely more people out walking and biking than normal, it never became an issue. Montgomery County MD has shut down a few roads to cars completely, so in some places (like Beach Drive south of Knowles Road) there was actually more space to bike.
I had enjoyable rides down Beach Drive before cutting over through Bethesda to the Capital Crescent trail down into Georgetown. One block on the route (Woodmont Ave) is now a bike/pedestrian zone with tables on the street to serve the coffee shops and restaurants. With any luck, that will remain after restrictions are eased.
A bike “portage” up a few stairways to get across the C&O Canal got me up to the level of the Key Bridge to cross the Potomac River into Rosslyn and onto the Mt. Vernon Trail south.
I did’t stop until mile 28, where I ate a few fig bars at the very scenic Navy Merchant Marine Memorial – in the spring, it is surrounded by a sea of red tulips. A few miles later there was a spritz of rain that disappeared quickly, but some ominous clouds were moving in from the southeast.
The trail goes by National Airport and then connects with the Four Mile Run trail and a beautifully restored section of Four Mile Run creek which feeds into the W&OD Trail. With 8 miles to go, a thunder storm caught me and I was drenched. But I could see blue sky ahead and managed to get a bit ahead of the heaviest of the rain, but it was still raining on me when I reached Lauren and Steven’s house.
Sunday, I decided to get some hillier miles in and did an old favorite loop, usually called the Frederick Historic Bridges Almost Metric Century. The ride goes over a number of the many covered bridges in the Frederick MD area but also purposely crisscrosses the Monocacy River over many other scenic small bridges.
I started at Utica Park (with open port-a-potties!) and headed NE towards Taneytown. The first bridge crossed was the stone Legore Bridge.
I rode on mostly serene back roads – not a single car passed me until mile 15. Ironically, I hit several stretches of fresh gravel riding (aargh to tar and chip road surfacing…) on my slick tires on my road bike. The day before I rode gravel tires on pavement…
Mile 26 was a snack stop at a Sheetz in Taneytown – oops, I left my cash wad in the bag I used on the Jamis the day before. I had a mask, but no cash – felt like a bank robber… Luckily, I had brought some fig bars – ate those and began to conserve water from my two bottles as the skies cleared. and the temperature rose.
At the northern most point of the ride, the Bullfrog Road bridge was closed over the Monocacy, so I had to detour on busy Taneytown Pike which cut a mile from the usual 60 mile length.
South through more covered bridges, through downtown Thurmont and past the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve (rescue zoo) which was doing gang-buster’s business. The route then turns onto Black Mills Road which follows Little Hunting Creek – more gravel! A bit of a slog uphill, one more covered bridge and I was back at the start with 59 miles on the clock.