The Weather Changes, Local Rides Still Have Some Arches

My road bike is having its rear wheel rebuilt – actually, the Trek rear wheel is sitting around waiting for the supply chain to deliver spokes to the bike shop that will eventually re-build the wheel. So, I’ve been riding my Jamis gravel/light touring bike and doing some local rides with more mixed surfaces.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge on a grey Bay day.

The weather in the DMV (District of Columbia/Maryland/Virgina) area has changed from hot and oppressive to cool and breezy. On this day, the remnants of hurricane Sally were passing to the south and there was a 20 MPH wind from the NNW whipping up the waves on the Chesapeake Bay as viewed from Sandy Point State Park at the midpoint of a 35 mile loop that starts on the Baltimore Annapolis Rail Trail.

Over the weekend, I did a 50 mile out and back on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath, from Point of Rocks to Antietam MD and back. This entire stretch has been resurfaced over the past two years, going from rutted/pot-holed dirt to very smooth crushed stone with only a few washboard spots.

If you look closely you can see the remains of the Towpath bridge in front of the railroad bridge.

The picture above is from a temporary wooden bridge over Little Catoctin Creek, showing the stone bridge that carried the towpath over the creek until rainstorms washed it out in 2018. For while, you had to splash through the creek, walk on the active rail road tracks, or try for a shuttle service that volunteers operated.

I’ve been biking on the Towpath since I moved to MD in 1978 – it is a 184 mile long gem, unless we have gotten a lot of recent rain. Gets a bit crowded around the more touristy points, like Great Falls and Harpers Ferry, but always thins out quickly. I’m looking forward to getting my road bike back but always fun to exchange shouting out “on your left” for cars and trucks zooming by my left ear.

12 response to "The Weather Changes, Local Rides Still Have Some Arches"

  1. By: BobinVT Posted: September 21, 2020

    Nice ride. Looks like another trail I’ll have to add to my wish list of places to ride.

    • By: jpescatore Posted: September 21, 2020

      If you are ever in the area, and it in the mood for a flat ride with lots of history, the Towpath is worth doing. Back in 2004 my wife and I took three days and the did the whole thing – Cycleblaze journal at

  2. By: NancyG Posted: September 21, 2020

    I like that photo of your bike at the rail of the bridge. Very interesting to see the creek at that angle and runs into the bridge. Sounds like a great ride.

    • By: jpescatore Posted: September 21, 2020

      There are a number of scenic stone aqueducts that carried the Canal and the Towpath over larger streams and rivers that have been reconstructed over the years – always cool to see.

  3. By: gregblood Posted: September 21, 2020

    I think you might have captured the first reflection of an arch in this month’s challenge. If not the first, certainly the best.

    • By: jpescatore Posted: September 22, 2020

      Any excellence in photography my me is purely by accident!

  4. By: Rich-Illinois Posted: September 21, 2020

    Bicycle parts seem to be in short supply.
    I’ve driven across the Bay Bridge — it is looooooong!
    Another reflective arch as well, the trail looks like a great ride.

    • By: jpescatore Posted: September 21, 2020

      The Bay Bridge from Annapolis on the mainland and Kent Island to the east is about 4.3 miles long. In normal years there is a Bay Bridge walk/run where it is closed to cars, but it has been very rare that they allowed biking over it!

      The Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel from Virginia Beach to Cape Charles is the real long one, something like 17 miles over – bridge on each end but a tunnel in the middle!

  5. By: Bill Stone Posted: September 21, 2020

    For a moment I thought you would be pedaling the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel. Whew! Unless something has really changed, that would be suicidal. The C&O seems like a much better choice. It also sounds like there shouldn’t be too much worry any more about giant mud pits on the C&O after big rain storms.

    • By: jpescatore Posted: September 21, 2020

      The resurfacing pretty much ends at Antietam, which is mile 73 of 184. Heavy rains will still create huge mud issues in many places west of the resurfacing. Heavy rain upstream on the Potomac will invariably cause some serious flood damage again in many of the places that were redone but for now, great shape!

  6. By: Laura Posted: September 21, 2020

    The first city I remember riding a bicycle in was D.C. (That sounds like a crazy place to begin.) I don’t know about now, but back in the early 70’s people were permitted (even encouraged) to ride on the sidewalks. There was free parking back then at the Thompson Boat Center, so we parked there every day and rode all over the place. I had a two-yr-old in a seat behind me and our boys were around 5 and 6 and rode their own little bikes. I led the way and my husband rode behind the boys to keep them in line. One of the days we rode out to Great Falls. I’ve hiked other sections of the towpath, but never had another chance to ride on it.

    • By: jpescatore Posted: September 22, 2020

      DC has made huge strides over the past decade in bike-friendliness. Lots of actual bike lanes and the bike sharing craze has enabled a lot of DC residents to bike short distances to work, as well as tourists to bike around – you learn to be very careful biking by those rental bikes on weekends!

      Back in the early 1990s I wrote a book “Family Bicycling in the Baltimore Washington Area” after going from my newborn daughter in a seat on the back of my bike, to pulling her in a trailer, to using a third wheel bike for her. We spent a good deal of time on the towpath.

      For anyone who is interested, there is a neat “virtual tour” of the C&O Canal. The pictures are a bit dated but gives a good feel for everything.

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