Guest Blogger Ted Jaenicke.
We woke up at around 6:00am this morning at the REACH outreach and homeless center affiliated with Christ’s Reformed UCC church in downtown Hagerstown, MD. Members of the church made us a big breakfast, and Pastor Gregg Meserole gave us a blessing to send us on our way. Skies were gray and close to rainy as we loaded our bikes and headed out of town.
First stop, Antietam. We didn’t have a lot of extra time, but did make decide to ride up one extra hill – a steep one – to the notational cemetery at the battlefield. We then descended to the Potomac River and the tow path along the C&O canal.
If you haven’t been on the tow path recently, it’s gorgeous. The river on our right, the empty canal on our left, we entered around mile marker 69. Less than 70 miles to DC!
The tow path was in good shape at the start. But as we rode south, the trail got a little muddy. And then it got very muddy. Ah to have a bike with fenders! That would have been nice.
After about 15 miles we stopped in the river town of Brunswick for lunch. Before entering a cute middle eastern restaurant (shout out to Potomac St. Grill!), we all compared our backs and legs to see who was muddiest. Did I mention that we were exhausted and hungry? Suffice it to say that we ate a lot of hummus, falafel, and all sorts of other great stuff.
After lunch, we had another 15 miles to go on the tow path for the day. Those 15 miles were even muddier than before! One of our most experienced cyclists wiped out, and it’s lucky that the mud provided a soft landing. He was okay, and so was his bike.
We finally exited the muddy trail, which meant we had to bike up and up from the river toward Poolesville and Beallsville. Some very steep hills here, although that might have been the 50 miles talking. Our stop for the night was the Am Kolel Jewish retreat center with lots of rooms and lots of beds.
Upon arriving we washed off our bikes, showered our bodies, and then waited for Chinese take out to arrive – courtesy of our Poolesville friends, Joyce Breiner, and Dave and Alex Yaney. Joyce is the leader of “Poolesville Green” and a local advocate for solar panels and National Drive Electric Week. After dinner we heard about these activities as well as efforts to make Poolesville a recognized “sustainable community.”
Tomorrow, onward to DC. Will it rain all day tomorrow? Stay tuned.
—Ted Jaenicke (with input from other riders)
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