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Friday, June 29, 2012

Leesburg - White's Ferry to Washington DC, Day Seven

06/29/12 38#
Final day of the ride, from Leesburg to White's Ferry and then to Washington DC.

The Hampton Inn was great, very bike friendly, excellent breakfast. The ferry crossing is very cool. The logistics of staying in Leesburg and riding on the C&O were problematic and time-consuming, even with our own support van; I don't know if I'm sanguine about planning that again.

The forecast called for a high temp of 101F, and we actually had a temp of 104F when we got off the bikes with a "feels like" heat index of 117F. (insert, "but it's a dry heat" here). This was a very hot day.

At the first hiker-biker campsite one of the riders used the water pump to douse their head and sleeves in cold water, and the second hiker-biker several people were using the water pumps to cool off, and by the last hiker-bike at Mp16 everybody was happily getting completely under the bracing water to lower their core temperatures. It was that hot.

The PerkyMobile™ met us at Seneca with cold drinks, then joined us again at Great Falls. We were pleasantly surprised to find the snack bar with cold drinks at Fletcher's Boat House, I didn't know that was there.

The northern part of the ride benefited from the shade of the overhead canopy, but in the city the trail was baking. We had an alternative route of the W&OD trail in case the C&O was too boggy-wet (which was not the case), and the W&OD follows a power line right-of-way and I imagine that must have been a difficult route with the sun and heat today.

We met a few cyclists around Georgetown that we'd also seen along the route over the last few days, puzzling over why the trail ends abruptly and the mysterious location of Mile Post Zero, and we were able to help them find their way.

Between us we used a combination of the (paved) Capital Crescent Trail and the C&O Canal to reach the destination.




After we were done riding there were still logistics to attend to, with two vans in nearby garages and bikes and bags to stow. We joined the holiday weekend, Friday 4pm exodus from DC and the traffic wasn't that bad at all.

Driving to Pittsburgh, after Frostburg we encounted heavy rain and hail, and after we passed through there were tornado warnings posted in what appears to have been a super derecho. The parkways in Pittsburgh were hobbled with weekend closures and it would have been easier to cross the city on bicycles, but we got through and got home.

It was an excellent bike trip, the weather was marvelous and statistically unlikely, we had six flat tires including two dramatic tire blowouts, one major equipment failure (rear derailleur hangar on the C&O), one bee sting but no major injuries. I think an excellent time was had by all.

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