For my younger son, each summer should include a camping trip. For me, each summer should include a bike overnight with my family and a camping trip. By bending the concept of camping, I attempted to combine both around busy schedules before school started. We recruited a family friend who has accompanied us on many bike adventures and departed our house riding our bikes.
After 6 miles, we stopped for an early “lunch” at an ice cream store before continuing down the Capital Crescent trail to Fletcher’s Boathouse. At the boathouse, we picked up the C&O Canal towpath and biked north. http://bikewashington.org/canal/canal_b.php
The D.C. area has experienced a great deal of much needed rain this summer, so I was apprehensive about the condition of the canal towpath. The National Park Service has the towpath in great shape, at least miles 3-19 that we rode. The boys took periodic breaks at a few of the locks and looked for turtles and other wildlife.
At Great Falls we enjoyed a longer break and a late lunch at the snack bar.
In addition, I saw a lovely Bridgestone RB1 locked to a rack. When its owner returned, he told me with great pride that the bike was older than he was.
Home for the night was Lockhouse 22. The C&O Canal Trust preserves a few of the remaining Lockhouses and rents them out on a nightly basis: http://www.canaltrust.org/programs/canal-quarters/ Most have neither electricity nor indoor plumbing. There was a picnic table and fire ring behind the house to eat and cook on respectively. A stream flowed next to the cabin and into the Potomac River about 100 yards away. The day had dawned overcast and humid. As we rode, a cold front passed by bringing cooler and drier conditions. The evening was lovely with a hint of Fall in the air. After hotdogs, baked beans, and s’mores we fell asleep to the sounds of the stream.
Overall it was a great s24o adventure. My youngest son said the primitive Lockhouse with a campfire was pretty close to tent camping. It also spared us from carrying tents. To save us from retracing our route, my wife picked us and our bikes up in the morning. One realization for me was that the “boys” are now 17, 16, and 14. They ride faster and harder than they used to. And, I ride more leisurely than I used to. While my stamina in the saddle is still better, I was pushing it to keep up with them over the 27 miles! Here is an image of our route with mileage.
The C&O Canal is a treasure that I am fortunate to have in my backyard!