Two Bikes Along the Western Maryland Rail Trail

Two bikes on grass against a backdrop of trees with leaves just turning to yellow. There are also remnants of an old stone structure in the background.

So, this is a bit of a late post, but I didn’t want to not write about the glory that is the Western Maryland Rail Trail. The ladyfriend told me to mark out an October weekend on my calendar, she was planning a little surprise getaway. She is so good at the surprise getaway. Like the time she took me to a reenactment of a Civil War era baseball game because I love baseball and Civil War history. Or the time she led me to believe we were going on a hot air balloon ride and then it turned out we were going behind the scenes at QVC. I may be the only soul on the planet who would rather go to QVC than up in a hot air balloon, but the part where she knows that is what makes her getaways so great. I am seen by her, and nothing feels better than recognition.

She tries to keep this stuff a secret, but she lost it the day before the trip, too excited about the perfect weekend plans. They were indeed perfect–put our bikes on the car, drive a couple hours, and then ride our bikes up and down the paved rail trail, by far my preference over crushed stone or any other surface. And then stay in a hotel and eat pizza and watch TV and then spend the next day looking for pumpkins and apple cider donuts. Singing my song!

This was actually my first time on this rail trail, which is weird because I love riding my bike without thinking about cars, and I love a rail trail so much. We started out slowly–it had been awhile since she’d been on a bike–and we missed the turn to get from the crushed stone where I guess hikers or horses are supposed to be to the paved trail. It was a bumpy ride for a bit, and then I saw her up ahead of me wobble a bit, tip right, and disappear. She is incredibly chill as a human being, so she just let her bike fall on her and waited for me to catch up and help her back up from the edge leading down to the river. I guess everyone has to learn the lesson that braking on wet sand or gravel is a delicate operation, and if the soil is that wet, it might not hold. She stumbled up and back on the trail and we were off again.

I realized we were on the wrong trail, and so did she. We took a couple of breaks to check out the scenery and for her to check her trail app. I snapped this picture of our two bikes leaning against an old stone structure from the days of the C&O Canal. I love riding my bike all alone, sure, but to ride with my boo, see the turning fall colors, listen to the river together? Perfect, it was the perfect day.

We finally got on the right trail and booked it 16 miles total to lunch, where we hurried up and waited. During lunch she admitted that her persistent back pain and all the bruises she picked up from her fall made the idea of 16 miles back less than appealing. We walked back to our bikes and I hopped on mine to ride alone back to the car, and I’d drive back to pick her up. I’m such a problem solver.

And then I got to do what I love the very most: clip on my lil speaker, turn on some music, and ride as fast as I could, all by myself, without thinking about cars or drivers, dinging my bell at riders, walkers, joggers, roller skaters, and others going the other way. Pure joy. I am so lucky to ride a bike, it is just my favorite way of being in the world. Gratitude, universe!

I got back to the car, got myself on the bike rack, and drove back to pick up the boo and her bike. A perfect day and weekend, and another reminder that I need to take myself out to rail trails more often.

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