June 11 - Day 7
SOB said he’d be around Bill’s at ten and could “fix somethin’” but an early start was a better option with Hancock less than 20 miles away. Scenery was unchanging while the trail varied, as before, with all possible combinations including (but not limited to) wide, narrow, soft, firm, gravel and mud.
Ten miles before reaching Hancock it’s possible to join the Western Maryland Rail Trail, a paved trail paralleling C&O for more than twenty miles. It was possible to maintain 15 miles per hour and gain some relief from the constant adjustments necessary on any gravel path. Food was the primary reason for wanting to reach Hancock and a visit to Weaver’s took care of those needs, but C&O Bicycle (http://candobicycle.com/) was of equal interest because the Specialize wireless computer that had been functioning only intermittently went comatose. In its place went a basic, wired unit from Planet Bike.
Enjoying the warm morning was one of the volunteers who ply the Western trail. His ride was worth a long look.
Many of the locks have houses associated with them and some are particularly attractive. Some have been fully restored and equipped and are available for daily rental.
Other than the similar terrain and woods there was little to distinguish the section of the Trail to Williamsport, the next scheduled stop.
Most of the towns along the GAP and C&O are small and interaction with residents who are not involved in or at least familiar with bike riders is minimal. Even in Cumberland, a busy small city, the end of GAP and beginning of C&O and the riders and walkers using them is commonplace. Meeting a bevy of swimming suit clad adults, adolescents and children, maybe thirty or more, leaping into the Potomac River where the canal ceases for several miles was a shock to our woodland sensibilities. The towpath here has the appearance of a ledge and feels far more treacherous than it probably is, but after hundreds of miles of woods, a rocky cliff on one side and the broad river on the other was disconcerting.
Williamsport was cultural and physical shock with too many cars and too steep hills, but eventually the Red Roof Inn was located. Discounts for veterans and a generally bike-friendly attitude made the stop positive. Even with several eateries nearby delivery pizza was the food option of choice.