Harper’s Ferry and Da-Da, dink, dink, dink

July 23, 2008

Tuesday, after a rainy start today¬†we stopped the ride at Harper’s Ferry, a mere 43 miles and tonight we both feel like we “cheated” because the ride was so short. It was¬†exhilarating to ride the road again.¬†The towns and hills¬†were beautiful after the flat trails from the past two days. Monday took it’s toll as we rode 73 miles on the C&O Canal Trail from Cumberland to Big Pool. The majority of the ride was on a towpath alongside the old canal. We had heard that this part of the trip would be rougher than the Allegheny Passage with its larger gravel, rocks, roots, sticks, ruts and mud-puddles. This trail is maintained by a different organization. Get the picture? So, at the end of the ride¬†on Sunday,¬†we stopped at the bike shop in Cumberland MD and had larger tires put on the bikes. Until now, we were riding on very narrow, hard road/race tires (23’s / 120psi). Not to get too “techie”, these tires ride fast but one trade-off is you get vibrated to death on rough roads. On the road, the 23’s are responsive and quick to do anything including flipping you over the handle bars on a rut. “Squirrely” is the term most often used.. it’s like riding a race horse or, if you’re riding fatter tires.. a plow horse. So the Allegheny was all the “rough” we thought we could take from a constant all day surface. We went up to “fatter” tires (28’s / 90psi). What a great idea! Rain the night before made the trail goo in some places and it took 15 minutes to get that “mountain bike look”. Ian, we thought of you. You would have loved it! We were “smok’n” as much as the trail would allow us and still concentrate while dodging sticks, rocks, puddles etc. You must “scan” from 30 to 8 feet in front of you constantly to pick your path, make adjustments. There is so much debris on the trail that you will hit a lot so you must make fast decisions as to what is bark or a log or something you can run over without being “launched”. For example, I hit two snakes before I identified them as not being sticks. It’s interesting but lose your concentration and it could easily be serious injury. Serious injury, out there with no direct way out and… “hmmm”.

This is compounded by “Da-Da, dink,dink,dink”. Until today, the term has been used only by Peter and me and not in the presence of Jean, which, could easily elevate her anxiety level while she is traveling around in some of these remote, off-beat areas. Today, however, we are pretty much back to “civilization” as we are to be in D.C. tomorrow and we can talk about it openly. Frankly, some of these mountain, backwoods, swampland dwellings and inhabitants can make one feel a little uneasy. No one particular area of the country has a monopoly on poverty nor the answer to affordable quality housing. However, given the roads and trails we have traveled for the past 6 weeks (seemingly more the past week), we have seen some pretty tragic residential environments. We could only recall the movie Deliverance and the theme song, “Dueling Banjo’s”; Da-Da, dink,dink, dink. So from time to time, while riding past a rough environment across the country one of us would mutter; Da-Da, dink, dink, dink. On the Canal Trail, there were a lot of “Da…..¬† “

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