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Don't tell my wife.

I'm planning to ride there Labor Day weekend as a last chance for a century training ride for the Tour de Canal. Not my favorite ride, but it is close to the C&O canal conditions and probably safer than most roads in the area.

Sounds like a freak accident, the sort of thing that would normally result in a little road rash unless you hit just so. I helped patch up a guy on the canal towpath this weekend, and it is sobering to think that just one rock or branch in the wrong spot might be the difference between a few abrasions and a funeral.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
greenjp said:
With all of the really great country roads to ride in the DC area, I can't believe even half-serious cyclists ride the W&OD. It's the worst place around.

jeff

Maybe you know some roads I don't know?

I don't feel like driving anywhere to go ride.. I just leave my house and I'm on the trail.

Keeps me off those crazy streets.
 

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We ride it all the time.

greenjp said:
With all of the really great country roads to ride in the DC area, I can't believe even half-serious cyclists ride the W&OD. It's the worst place around.

jeff
We generally include is as part of a long ride but we try to be off of it between 8am-4pm on weekends.

IMHO it isn't the "worst" place (I'd vote for either end of the Capital Crescent Trail or the Mt. Vernon Trail by the airport for that) around and we are more than "half-serious".
 

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Ok I'll stipulate that at odd hours when there's hardly anyone else around, the W&OD could be an ok place to ride :p And I suppose it could be acceptable if you don't want to get in the car. I agree about the Capital Crescent and Mt. Vernon, they're lousy too. I guess I just don't like urban/suburban multi-use trails.

The western part of Montgomery County, Loudon County, Anne Arundel are all full of lightly travelled, nice biking roads. I live in Germantown, so I'm used to being 1 mile away from cow country.

jeff
 

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You're right about all that, but unlike many other trails in the area, the W & OD is often the only route available for a lot of people. I can think of only a couple other trails (and not in their entirety) that are ever the only route available, and they are seldom the best.
 

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What are you guys talking about?? The W&OD, Capital Crescent trails are terrific for the most part (I guess I am a glass half-full guy). I have riddent every inch of the W&OD many times (including both 4 Mile Run and Custis), and the same goes for the Cap Cres/Rock Creek Loop. Generally, the trails are in good condition, they are well marked, and there are a lot of happy riders out there. If you use some common sense, then they are safe too. For example, slow the heck down when you are passing Fletchers Boat House where you have a lot of bike/pedestrian traffic crossing the street. AT the street crossings in Virginia, just stop and have a look.

The best part of those trails is that they can take you from home to the really good stuff on the roads. Both trails lead you to DC where there are a hundred great routes. Go the other way, and you can ride to the West Virginia/Maryland hills at the confluence of the Potomac.

As for road miles, we got that too! Take the Capital Cres and dive off on MacArthur, ride out to Potomac, and north on River for the real gold.

Love the Mt. Vernon trail too!

(I did a little home-made century recently with a buddy. We got dropped off in Shepherdstown, WV, rode to Antitam in Maryland, through the hills to Harpers Ferry, then down to Purcellville, down the W&OD to the Memorial Bridge, rode down constitution to round the Capitol and then back for a lap around Haines Point, then back to Virginia and down to Mt. Vernon, and then back to Old Town where the wife was waiting! (127 miles))
 

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I wouldn't ride on River Road unless there weren't many more places to ride. The speed limit in places is 50 mpg and there isn't much of a shoulder, if any.

I have lived in Montgomery Country my entire life. The first 32 years in Silver Spring where I grew up riding the Rock Creek bike path. Started racing road bikes when I was 14 and since we lived right next to Beach Drive at the time I used that for most of my training. Then, we moved to northern Silver Spring and I started riding out to Howard County to train. Road a lot on route 97 (i.e., Georgia Avenue), but I doubt I would do much riding on it now.

For the past 2 years, I have been living in Germantown and this has been my first real summer of riding. So, I am trying to find some good places to ride. I have figured out that riding on the road on the weekends in anything other than a closed course could lead to death. So far, my favorite ride has been up 117 to 28 and west/north on 28. This takes me through Boyds and the scenery is awesome, along with the traffic situation.

I rode the C&O canal for the first time a couple of months ago and I really liked it. Might take the mountain bike over there again sometime soon. However, there are some awesome mountain bike trails right here in Germantown by the soccer complex. I believe it is 13 miles worth of trails and I know they range from very technical to beginner. That has been my staple course for the mountain bike.
 

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greenjp said:
With all of the really great country roads to ride in the DC area, I can't believe even half-serious cyclists ride the W&OD. It's the worst place around.

jeff
I like it. It's hardly my favorite ride. It's hardly my favorite ride in the area. Some of the scenery is pretty poor and much is mediocre. But it's green. And I can hook up with a connecting trail (a spur off the Custis) from the street on which I live and just not worry about the traffic. Occasionally it's crowded. Mostly it's fine. Mostly the surface is ok. I got on the trail today, for instance, a little before noon, in Arlington. I rode out maybe 6 miles or so past Vienna and turned around. I'm not taking Lee Highway through Arlington and Fairfax on a Saturday afternoon. Sure I had to pay attention when passing people. There were a few times I needed to slow down for a few seconds to wait for a decent opportunity to pass. One evasive maneuver due to a wandering little kid. I hit the brakes once when a fawn hopped out in front of me. Mostly I just rolled along at the speed I felt like riding.

There are some nice road loops in my neighborhood and there are, as you say, some nice country roads not too far out of town. But I really think that the trail is a very handy addition to a crowded metropolitan area with serious traffic problems--if I want to grab 30 or 40 miles from the house, it's a great resource. If I want to invest more time and ride to country roads, it's also a great resource.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I agree..

I was thinking today that people just have issues and no respect if they think they own the path and shouldn't share with other people.

I would also say that other people do do some stupid things at time, and I for one am probably included in that list..but who isn't?



djg said:
I like it. It's hardly my favorite ride. It's hardly my favorite ride in the area. Some of the scenery is pretty poor and much is mediocre. But it's green. And I can hook up with a connecting trail (a spur off the Custis) from the street on which I live and just not worry about the traffic. Occasionally it's crowded. Mostly it's fine. Mostly the surface is ok. I got on the trail today, for instance, a little before noon, in Arlington. I rode out maybe 6 miles or so past Vienna and turned around. I'm not taking Lee Highway through Arlington and Fairfax on a Saturday afternoon. Sure I had to pay attention when passing people. There were a few times I needed to slow down for a few seconds to wait for a decent opportunity to pass. One evasive maneuver due to a wandering little kid. I hit the brakes once when a fawn hopped out in front of me. Mostly I just rolled along at the speed I felt like riding.

There are some nice road loops in my neighborhood and there are, as you say, some nice country roads not too far out of town. But I really think that the trail is a very handy addition to a crowded metropolitan area with serious traffic problems--if I want to grab 30 or 40 miles from the house, it's a great resource. If I want to invest more time and ride to country roads, it's also a great resource.
 

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fabsroman,

You are fortunate to be a mountain biker in Germantown. The place in Germantown is Schaeffer Farms, and the trails back there are terrific! They recently added many miles by connecting the park with Black Rock. I have not done the connector, but I believe it is about 15 miles each way (in addition to all the mileage in Schaeffer itself). Go to the MORE website for more info http://www.more-mtb.org/index.php?styleid=8
 

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bas said:
I agree..

I was thinking today that people just have issues and no respect if they think they own the path and shouldn't share with other people.

I would also say that other people do do some stupid things at time, and I for one am probably included in that list..but who isn't?
Well said. I haven't done the W&OD yet but I really like the MVT, especially past the airport. I've only been on it twice this year though. My observations are that the most disrespectful and ignorant users of the trails are, by far, cyclists.

EDIT: After reading the linked thread, I'm kinda dismayed at the attitude shown by some of the posters... as in "no WAY" could a cyclist be at fault. It's the joggers or the iPod users or that people don't speak English but NEVER the cyclist passing too close or too fast or just not paying attention. Precisely the attitude I'm talking about.
 

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Alas, you just missed the last qualifier for the Tour de Canal for this year, but look it up next year. On Sept 9 and 10, the best-run 2-day charitable fundraiser in the country will be starting in Cumberland and taking the C&O towpath all the way to DC. Great support, transportation to Cumberland provided, you sleep in a decent motel, they feed you great, and they have mechanics. I've seen people finish the ride with their bikes in better shape than when they started.

Its a great cyclocross ride and my cruiser is usually one of the top performers every year.
 

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Tom Ligon said:
Alas, you just missed the last qualifier for the Tour de Canal for this year, but look it up next year. On Sept 9 and 10, the best-run 2-day charitable fundraiser in the country will be starting in Cumberland and taking the C&O towpath all the way to DC.
The Tour de Canal `06 homepage can be found here. Check me if I'm wrong on this, but it looks like there are still 5 more qualifiers in August.
 

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You're right. I qualified a couple of weeks ago so I was not keeping track. A co-worker who also plans to ride had told me last weekend was the last qualifier and he had to ride it. I think he was trying to get out of my invitation to him to do some mountain climbing on Skyline Drive.

There is a fundraising deadline of August 18 to achieve the minimum $400 (ouch) pledge. But worth every nickel.
 
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