Biking the GapC&O, Saturday, 37mi to Leesburg

We lived a pampered life last night and this morning… concierge level, fluffy beds, and a nice breakfast. We looked the part, like any two business types, checked into this 12 story Marriott.

Twenty minutes later one of the breakfast servers paused in the hallway when we passed, now transformed into 100% cycling dudes… helmets, bright shirts, and the highly fashionable “Look, Ma, I forgot my pants” biker short look.

Here we go!

The start of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal is hidden on the grounds of the local boating club

Built in the early 1800s, with George Washington playing an early role, this canal and adjacent tow path runs 180+ miles from Washington, DC to Cumberland, MD, passing through 74 wooden locks along the way.  Although the C&O went out of business in 1924, we’ll see a number of locks that are still working, and several of the lockkeeper houses along the way.
The canal and towpath run on a ridge 20-40 feet above the Potomac – I’m not sure how they pulled that off… a lot of laborers I suspect.

The above shot is looking downstream (toward Washington DC), the gate is closed, holding back the stream.

We stopped at Great Falls for lunch, and looked at the challenge the settlers found when foating down the Potomac – you run into the treacherous Mather Falls

George Washington’s role in all this comes here, at Great Falls.  His firm, the Potomac Company, succeeded in creating a canal that bypassed Mather Falls, making the downstream river accessible.  The bypass canal was eventually sold to the newly formed C&O Company, which went on to develop the 180 mile canal.

Late in the afternoon, we crossed the Potomac by ferry, and caught a shuttle into Leesburg VA for our hotel and dinner.

Highlights:

Stats: 41.3 bike miles

National Parks day today… all the parks were free, and a lot of folks visiting.

Best meal: Coho salmon with roasted brussel sprout and romaine salad (… be proud… that’s as close to Mediterranean as I’m likely to achieve this week… burgers and BBQ coming next baby!)

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