Ten Best Things About Biking the C&O and GAP from D.C. to Pittsburgh
by IronVelo.co’s Adam Perry for Boneshaker Almanac
1. More wildlife than you might imagine seeing. Since it was April, we were frequently the only people on the trail for miles. And, since my riding companion had been doing long bike trips through the U.S. and Europe for many years and was not only faster than me but also riding a road bike, I was often by myself on my Kona mountain bike for long stretches. Alone, you see things on the trails: a turkey stumbling up a cliff when it sees you flying towards it; ducks flapping their wings as they struggle to fly from the trail to water shortly after you wheel into view; whole families of turtles (10 or 12 of them at a time, from tiny to huge) promptly plunking themselves from sunning spots on tree branches into muddy Maryland canals as you look their way; mother geese not only hissing, but violently charging at you as you try discreetly to have a look at their newborn yellow offspring; deer outrunning your bike with grace.
2. When your iPod runs out of battery and you’re able to listen to the sounds of nature all around: geese hissing, cardinals chirping, rivers rolling, crushed gravel being further annihilated by your spinning wheels. Sure, the sounds of Midlake, First Aid Kit and Fleet Foxes juxtapose beautifully with the dark forest trails of Pennsylvania at sunrise. Mid-’80s Metallica bootlegs got me through the 23-mile climb from Cumberland past Frostburg. And the drawling soul of Maryland’s own Cotton Jones perfectly accompanied my ride from Little Orleans, Md., to Cumberland along the Potomac. But the rougher part of my ride on the 184-mile Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Trail didn’t become meditative until the surrounding world became all I experienced.
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