Saturday, June 11, 2016

DC to Pgh Bike Tour Day 3 - Harpers Ferry, WV to Hancock, MD

Another early start today after the hotel breakfast buffet at 7:00am. I lubed my and Mike's chains as we got ready to leave outside the front lobby, then helped Tom adjust his handlebar.
It was less than a mile through town, across the footbridge, and down the spiral staircase to get back to the C&O Canal Towpath Trail.
The day went on with our usual routine of riding 10 or 12 miles and making periodic stops for rest and water. Most of the trail was doubletrack dirt/gravel with a strip of grass down the center, and continued views of the Potomac River.
The weather was hot and humid, but the tree cover kept us 10-15 degrees cooler most of the way.
I rode what may have been the most amazing two miles of trail I've ever seen. The Big Slackwater area follows a dam created to widen and calm the river for the canal boats. They rebuilt the Towpath using some of the original gravel trail, and built concrete bridges that hug the shore of the river with a tall cliff face on the other side. It's like a bicycle superhighway.   Just after that, a black snake slithered across the trail in front of me. He froze and would not move until I passed by.
We stopped for lunch at the Desert Rose Cafe in Williamsport, MD (with a detour for a drink at the Third Base Tavern first). Heading back down to the trail, there was some glass in the bike lane, and I think I picked up a piece of it in my front tire. I helped Jim adjust his brake at the trailhead, then about a half-mile up the trail, I heard air hissing out, and saw my tubeless sealant spraying out of my front tire. I just let it run out a bit, then put the area with the puncture close to the ground to let the extra sealant collect there. It seemed to seal itself up. I started pumping it back up, but it started to leak again ad I got over 30psi. I let it drop back down to 20, and it seemed to hold there. I rode it like that for about 10 miles. The low pressure made the bike feel a bit squirrelly, but other than that, it seemed to work.
Another water stop, another dam. The group was riding at a social pace, but I felt like picking it up a bit, so I went on ahead on my own. At mile marker 114, I stopped for a break at a nice cool spot under a railroad bridge, and tried pumping my front tire up to 30psi. It seemed to hold well.
Tomhad told us that the last 10 miles of the trail today were paved. I passed the entrance to the Western Maryland Rail Trail without realizing that I should have gone there to catch the paved detour. At mile marker 120, there appeared to be fresh gravel laid on the trail, but it was sharp, jagged gravel, as if they ground up flint arrowheads and spread them on the trail. It was barely 20 feet in when I heard another pop and hissing -- this time my back tire. The gravel had ciut a big gash in my back tire, and it looked too big to seal on its own. I started to put an inner tube in, but thought I should put a boot in the tire for good measuer. But, the boot wouldn't stick due to the leftover sealant inside the tire. I put the tube in, pumped it up to 30psi, crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best. I got to the Hancock Visitor Center formthe C&O a few miles later, and cut through there to get over to the paved rail trail. After only about a half-mile, a saw the rest ofmthe group, and we headed up to the main road and found a good dinner at The Triangle Tavern. Afterwards, we made our way through town to the Super 8 motel.

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