Sunday, August 2, 2020

Western Maryland Rail Trail 56 miles

C&O Canal Lock 55
Portion of the C&O Towpath
Cave along the Western Maryland Rail Trail
I wanted to do a special or unique ride for my birthday. So I picked the historic Western Maryland Rail Trail 56 mile paved bike path to ride. It’s been on my list for awhile, but the three hour round trip drive made it more challenging to pull off.

I got up super early to get up there and ride before it got too hot and was the first car in the Big Pool mile 0 parking lot. Driving the 2006 Cayenne S was awesome on the 70 mph speed limit highway with no traffic early in the morning.

The Western Maryland Rail Trail is a bike path that was placed on the historic train line in western Maryland. This train line is what replaced the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, so it seemed fitting to add to my list. Since the rail trail is flat and paved, it’s a great place to ride long miles at speed. And it runs parallel to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Tow Path ... my 2020 goal ride.

Taking off from the parking lot, I quickly discovered that the storm yesterday caused a mess on the bike path. Leaves, branches and even entire trees were all over the path. I had to stop a few times and hop some fallen trees. But overall, nothing the 1998 Porsche Bike S mountain bike couldn’t handle.

Riding the rail trail was supposed to be a 28 mile out and then back reaching 56 miles. But what I didn’t know is the tunnel near the end is closed, due to an endangered bat population, and the detour dropped me onto the C&O Towpath trail. So for the first time I got an opportunity to ride the C&O!

The 4 miles on the C&O was eye opening. The storm yesterday left lots of muddy spots and traction was sketchy in places. I was able to maintain good pace, but less than the 16 mph I was averaging on the paved path. This prompted me to reconsider the fall 184.5 mile C&O ride options and potential ride duration.

I returned to the Cayenne very sweaty but very happy. Turned out to be a great Porsche bike ride, nice Cayenne drive and I learned a lot about the C&O conditions. Awesome birthday experience.

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