Day 81: Harper’s Ferry, WV to Arlington, VA (November 18)

This will be my last day!

Leaving the Teahorse Hostel after a waffle breakfast , I rode up then down into Harper’s Ferry. Again I had to squash the urge to immediately leave town across the bridge and get riding again. So I rode around the part of town right near the river. The History Channel crew was setting up again for another shoot. There was certainly a lot of history in Harper’s Ferry with the Revolutionary War and Civil War and the founding of the country. Right now there is only one railroad bridge out of town, but previously there had been at least three. The two unused ones are slowly falling apart. Now nothing is left but their stone piers.

A few miles after leaving Harper’s Ferry, I met a man and his son. The man had rode down the East Coast of the US about 25 or 30 years ago, and was so happy when he got to the C&O because he didn’t have to ride on the street. It was a high point of his ride which was a high point of his life. I talked to him for about 15 minutes telling him about my trip and hearing some about his. He was very excited to meet me and hear about the trip and vowed to help create more cycling routes like the C&O and GAP trail.

The weather today was a bit cool but sunny and nice. Puddles were still along the trail, but it was not muddy. My 1.5″ tires were good enough for the C&O despite its relatively unimproved surface. The rocks and roots and puddles were a bit bumpy, and maybe fatter tires would do better. Suspension would be nice too. I thought the trail would get more paved or smoother the closer I got to DC, but it remained the same bumpiness the whole way to Georgetown. There were more and more people walking, running, and biking as I approached the city. I got passed by a few guys on fancy bikes. I had to tell myself that it was OK because they had nothing on their bikes and their bikes probably weighed about half as much as mine. I did notice that the closer I got to the city fewer people said hi or waved.

The C&O doesn’t become more urban as you get closer. It always feels somewhat separate although there is a major road running along side it for the last 10 miles or so. I crossed over the Chain Bridge into Arlington, VA. I had forgotten that Arlington is on a big bluff above the Potomac River, and the hill getting up onto the top was so steep I had to get off and push my bike up it. I noticed that my left shoe has really been worn down and has almost no traction. When I stop, my left foot hits the ground first often when the bike is still moving wearing away the rubber.

I haven’t enjoyed the GAP and C&O as much as I would if I didn’t feel compelled to put my head down and ride everyday. I have been listening to Sherlock Holmes on audio book to make things go a bit faster since Hancock. It is a bit odd that my bicycle trip essentially ended today. I will ride into DC to look at some museums and check on the Amtrak train and check-in, but that is a day trip. Arriving at my friends’ house in Arlington was the end of the trip. There was a definite feeling of relief when I arrived at their door. Thus ends my cross country bicycle ride!

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