View of the Potomac Near the Catoctin Aqueduct

View of the Potomac Nearish Harper's FerryI’ve been doing plenty of around-town riding lately–to work and back, errands, doctor’s appointments–but last weekend I got to put my bike on the back of R.’s truck, all cozied up to her Surly Long Haul Trucker, for a drive out toward Harper’s Ferry and a ride along the C&O Canal. We had a general plan, but then exited early to follow signs to the canal. We weren’t sure we were going the right way, but then we saw the railroad tracks–a sure sign a canal is in the area. I always think of canals as lovable losers. I mean, they’re a great idea, and if a canal hadn’t opened the way west, well, that would have stopped some serious growth. Whether or not that would have been a good thing is open to interpretation, but there you go. But almost as soon as this canal was built, the railroad was built, too, and that thing was a whole lot faster and had the bonus of not relying on the fickle nature of water to keep things moving. And so there was the canal, all dressed up, nobody wanting to go. Most of it is empty of water at this point, but next to it is the most delightful path, stretching for miles and miles and miles, hundreds of them, and on this particular Sunday, there were ten or fifteen for us to travel back and forth, checking out the fall colors, our fellow cyclists, a quick lunch, the old bridge at the Catoctin Aqueduct, a bunch of horses that left treasures along the way, and this fantastic river. Oh, the river. We rode, we took portraits of our bicycles next to the water, we made tentative plans to come back and ride the whole thing with our camping gear–a reminder that the bike can stretch, and it’s not always just the way to work.

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