On Your Left

Bicycles, Travel, and Photography

Team Lighthouse 2014

Team Lighthouse was a small group of 4 in 2014. We hope the rest of the group will join us in future years. Reid bailed out just 2 days before the ride (what’s up with that?).

Despite the small group, it was a great ride. In past years we have done a number of organized state rides which each have between 50 and several thousand riders. Team Lighthouse has been as many as 20 in some years.

I drove to Pittsburgh, PA from Chicago. Nancy drove from Des Moines to Champaign IL where she met up with Vickie (Kansas City, MO) and Carolyn (somewhere in Kansas Toto) and the three of them drove to Pittsburgh together. We met up on Saturday morning where we had arranged a shuttle for ourselves, bikes, and belongings to Washington DC. Sara at Bike the Gap did a great job answering our many questions and organizing the shuttle services for us. We arrived in DC mid afternoon and spent a few hours touring a few of the important sites in DC.

Sunday at 8AM we left our hotel (in Arlington Virginia), crossed over the (Francis Scott) Key Bridge into DC and rode about along the C&O to Mile 0 so we would start at the true beginning of the ride. Our route was planned for 61 miles.

At this point we were truly on the route and our 7 day adventure. The initial part of the route was shared with a TRI event in DC so we were surrounded by runners and other cyclists for the first portion and headed to Milepost 60 at Harpers Ferry, WV. Once exiting DC, we spent the rest of the day in Maryland. Having spend the night in Virginia, we rode in VA, DC, MD, and WV that day.

Great Falls was beautiful and we encountered the “creature” you can see and help identify on this page.

We expected some lunch facilities at Whites Ferry. The ferry at Whites Ferry is the last cable ferry service across the Potomac River. Unfortunately there was no meals available so lunch was cookies and chips. As you can see from the photos, it was beautiful day riding on the canal towpath.

We arrived at Harpers Ferry around 4PM. Had dinner and then walked up the very steep hill to the Teahorse Hostel to clean accommodations which included a great waffle breakfast. Laurel has a shed where we were able to lock our bikes overnight. It turned out that Laurel had shuttled our bags from DC to Harpers Ferry. The way into Harpers Ferry from the C&O is to carry ones bicycle up a iron spiral staircase, walk across the river on a wooden bridge which is shared with rail freight trains, and descend into Harpers Ferry. Lets just say I opted for another method and owe Laurel a huge thank you.

Monday morning we left for “4 Locks”. 4 Locks isn’t a town, but rather a place on the canal where there are 4 of the many locks. We “shopped” for dinner at 7-11 in Harpers Ferry and placed it all with our bags. Before leaving for “4 locks” we spend some time exploring Harpers Ferry.

Our riding for this day was 50 miles.

We crossed over Antietam Creek, but did not have time to head over to Sharpsburgh to the Antietam National Battlefield. This was the site of an important battle during the Civil War.

We stopped many times during the day for photos and to explore the surroundings; ended up at Williams Port MD (near Hagerstown) around 5 at the The Williamsport Creamery (Ice Cream is a staple for all bike rides). We began to see a trend with our slow pace to the end we began thinking that Team Lighthouse had morphed into Team 20 by 2PM. We arrived at 4 Locks just about 7PM when it began to get dark. I highly recommend staying in one the lock houses if you have a chance. Lockhouse 49, our stop for the night, was perfect.

Tuesday, our third day, was even slower than Monday. We stopped almost immediately after leaving the lockhouse at Fort Frederick and investigated that area for quite a while. We only had 30 miles to ride on Tuesday, heading towards Little Orleans. We chose to continue along the canal towpath rather than deviating onto the Western Maryland Rail Trail which is paved.

Despite our best efforts, we arrived at Little Orleans (milepost 141) by 4PM. We were warned that the Little Orleans campground was a couple of miles up a 12% grade and the only place for food is a bar named Bills Place. Unfortunately we were not informed that Bills Place is closed on Tuesdays. In honor of our arrival, Bills Place was open that Tuesday. OK, I embellished a bit, Bills Place was open as there was an annual fishing tournament, not just for us. We sat and talked until the fishing event was served their dinner and left Bills at 7PM, arriving at the Little Orleans campground in time to set up our tents before sunset, but barely.

Wednesday we left the campground early. The night was quite loud, the various insects and birds were singing all night: a real symphony of nature. We had about 40 miles to get to Cumberland MD, the end of the C&O and start point for the GAP. The highlight of the day was the Paw Paw Tunnel. We arrived at Cumberland early afternoon.

We headed to the CTC bike shop as I needed some serious brake adjustments and some bungee cords to keep my day pack attached to my bike. CTC is located on Canal Place, just at the end of the C&O. They were great folks. I recommend a visit.

Just as we checked into our hotel, a Marriott Fairfield Inn, located quite close to the trail (200 yards); an old acquaintance checked into the same hotel. Jim and a friend were on a motorcycle trip and they joined us for dinner. BBQ at the Crabby Pig. I think Carolyn had Maryland Crabcakes again for the 4th time this trip.

Thus we ended the C&O Canal bike ride, 184.5 miles, 4 days. Read about the rest of the journey in the next post.

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Posted on: Sunday, October 19th, 2014 at 9:19 am

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