Day 7: Storm-trashed C&O

6/9/15: 67 miles, Sharpsburg, Md., to Hancock, Md.

Got up at sunrise and couldn’t roll out fast enough. Because of the late afternoon scramble from the rain last night, I never went to the grocery store (or liquor store). That, and because the water pump at camp was busted, I only had a half bottle of water to drink.

Packed up as fast as I could and headed off the trail onto the road for breakfast in Sharpsburg, Md. There wasn’t much there, so I rode 5 miles south to Shepherdstown, W.Va., a small college town that seemed like it had more to offer. Ended up at Betty’s, a greasy-spoon type diner (my favorite). Saw a few other bikes outside, sealing the deal. Grabbed a counter seat. I ordered pancakes, scrambled eggs, hash browns, coffee, wheat toast, bacon, and grapefruit juice. Nothing in on the menu was more than $8.

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Another rider named Tony took a seat next to me after a few minutes. He was from Asheville, N.C., recently retired and former Navy. Said after he retired, his wife left him after 30 years. He seemed OK with that, and we talked about our touring trips. He’d done Alaska to Montana and the TransAm before. He then told me about how great the riding is where he lives in Pisgah National Forest. Our conversation tapered as he dove into his biscuits in gravy.

On my way out of town, I stopped at a Sheetz, my favorite gas station ever because of the indie rock and grunge music they pipe in as well as their Dunkin-Donuts style breakfast. I talked to a woman there, Zoe, who told me about how her sister went to college in Santa Cruz after I explained my trip to her. But we might’ve been talking about two different Santas. I don’t know of a college in Santa Cruz.

After I left Shepherdstown to get back on the trail, I was met with more downed trees from the storm. The first hour of the day, I was carrying my bike over branches. Would try to ride for a bit, then stop 10 or 20 yards later to do it again. Didn’t get very far, maybe 12 miles, and it was already noon. The National Park Service guys were out there with chainsaws clearing the way here and there.

Once the trail cleared up, I checked out some of the original canal lockhouses and dams on the Potomac. At one point, I rode by a power plant that dumped its hot water down a man-made practice course for the Olympic kayaking team to train on.

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The riding was thankfully uneventful all the way to Hancock, Md., where I decided to get a Super 8 for the night. The last 14 miles into town were on the Western Maryland Rail Trail, a paved 22-mile path straddling Hancock. That made the last few miles into town a relief. My pack needed a good drying, and my clothes a wash. Plus, the Cavs/Warriors game 3 was on, and I hadn’t slept the night before. A good night’s sleep in a bed, I felt, was well-earned. I hit up Weaver’s Family Restaurant for dinner: wings, spinach salad, double-baked potato with cheese, and a piece of coconut cream pie.

 

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