No Wrong Plan: Day 6 – Brunswick to Home on the C&O Canal Towpath, the Capital Crescent Trail, and the Mount Vernon Trail

Ryan was keen on staying at the Brunswick campsite because he wanted to have breakfast at Beans in the Belfry, a coffee shop in Brunswick that is very popular with the #bikeDC crowd. We broke camp after another cold night and a squirt of chamois cream we headed back into town. It was 8 a.m. Beans in the Belfry doesn’t open until 9 on weekdays. Fail.

We found another place and had coffee, croissants,and chocolate cookies. The croissant and coffee were okay but the cookies were top notch. This being Friday, we were establishing the westernmost outpost of #bikedc’s Friday Coffee Club.

It was also Bike to Work Day. The weather could not have been better. Throughout the day we checked social media to see huge crowds participating in the eveDSCN3965_1086nts of the morning. This was in sharp contrast to the poor turnout last year which coincided with a monsoon.

As we pedalled toward DC we finally started seeing some deer. We only saw a couple on the GAP Trail but they were rather burly. Deer closer to DC are smaller but fast. We were very careful once we saw one deer because deer often run in clusters. Getting run over by a stupid deer would be a lousy end to a bike tour.

After about 20 miles we stopped at Whites Ferry for some grub. All they had were snacks so we made do and got back to riding. After about an hour we met up with Ryan Heinz, a #bikedc and Friday Coffee Club friend, who was taking the work out of Bike to Work Day. We chatted for a long time. Ryan was headed for, you guessed it, Beans in the Belfry. Hope he had a good cup.

We were within 20 miles of DC and the scenery continued to be spectacular. At one point we spotted a great blue heron standing on the edge of the towpath. He was immense. As we approached he launched. Magnificent! From this point on the canal is filled with water. We saw dozens of goslings with their protective elders at their side. A duck swam across the canal with what looked like a day care center full of ducklings in pursuit. Turtles basked in the sun. It’s a critter’s life on the C&O Canal.

At Swain’s Lock we spotted Rudy Riet, another #bikedc and Friday Coffee Club friend. He had ridden out to escort us into town. The pace accelerated. Adrenaline kicked in. We cut over to the Capital Crescent Trail at Thompson’s Boat House and soon were met by Mary, The Coffeeneur! Another escort. We rolled the rest of the way on the paved CCT. At Georgetown Waterfront Park we stopped for pictures.

We made it!DSCN3979_1097

If we wanted to be anal about the whole thing we should have kept riding to the 0 milepost. Having screwed up the start in Pittsbrugh and having seen that the 0 milepost is nothing special we headed instead through Georgeton and the west end of DC to Glen’s, a market near Dupont Circle. Along the way Chris B. picked up our scent and joined the parade. Rudy led the way as we rode the streets of the city. At one intersection a driver did a right hook. Rudy was on to him and avoided being road kill. Welcome home.

Glen’s has outdoor seating, coffee, food, and cold draft beer. The perfect place for a celebration. Soon we were joined by a bunch of #bikeDC and Friday Coffee Club folks including Ed, Peter, Jacques, Brian and others.

After a couple of hours of socializing I headed home. Ed gave me an escort nearly all the way. We rode down the 15th Street cycletrack. It was incredibly crowded, mostly with people riding northbound. This was clear evidence that Bike to Work Day had been a smash.

Now that I was riding in more familiar roads and trails, The Mule felt like a bus. It was a damned good thing I had changed the brake pads on the beast or some tourists and bike commuters would have been vaporized.

I pushed the pace as hard as I could but my legs were nearly dead. South of Alexandria I stopped to show Ed some bald eagle nests. They are now almost completely obscured by tree leaves. Ken Schantz, a bike commuter stopped by to chat. He’s a bike commuter who’s daily ride is something like 70 miles roudn trip. (He uses buses to make the trip manageable.)

After Ken took off, Ed and I rolled to my neighborghood. Ed went west and I went into my backyard to dismount for the final time of the tour.

I was pooped. My final day was 73 1/2 miles.

Total mileage for the ride was about 364 miles.

I’ll take it.

Some pix of the trek are over on my Flickr page.

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3 thoughts on “No Wrong Plan: Day 6 – Brunswick to Home on the C&O Canal Towpath, the Capital Crescent Trail, and the Mount Vernon Trail

  1. Excellent trip, really enjoyed reading about your travels. I have recently come across Rails To Trails and some of the trails are topping my list of, ‘Places to cycle’. On my bucket list to come to the US one day and cycle one of the trails.

  2. Thanks for writing about this trip. I got lots of ideas about things to see on our ride in two weeks.
    Any suggestions on where to leave my car in or around DC, either pay or free? We are taking the Amtrack to Pittsburgh.
    I also concur about the Erie Canal ride. We have done it twice the C&O/GAP barely won the lottery for this years tour.

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