Bicycle Race

I was not planning on writing this morning but saw this morning’s word, Cranky, and I had to respond.

Of course, cranky means to be ornery, difficult, fussy. A descriptor my wife and daughter both use to describe me when I’ve been inside for too long.

But it made me think of getting out on my bike. Working the crank to get rid of the cranky.

Why the title of this post? Among the pleasures of teaching is to be introduced to children who you know will be interesting adults. Years ago, I had a student who loved to sing the lyrics of Queen’s Bicycle Race. He was a fascinating kid-eccentric and always coming up with something thought provoking.  I sometimes find myself humming the tune (off key) of this old song when I am eager to get out on one of my bikes.

After 15 years of hard use, I just had the hybrid rebuilt with new crank shafts.  With the heat and humidity of this area’s summers, riding is the way to go. Running is just punishment. Spring is the sweet spot to get out.

I know I’ve written previously about some biking around here but I get excited and ready to put the bike on the car when I think about the options.

One can ride from Washington D.C., Georgetown to be more specific, to Pittsburgh via the C & O Canal National Park and then, picking up the GAP trail, on to Pittsburgh for a total of about 300 miles-with no need to ride on roads and with little need to cross major roads. For 184 miles, one can ride with the mostly undeveloped Potomac River on one side and the old canal on the other. Almost two hundred miles of old trees, locks, lock houses, and the wildlife that thrives within this corridor. There are myriad places to access the trail with easy parking lots. This photo captures some of the Virginia bluebells found along the trail in April.


The GAP (Great Allegheny Passage)  trail then climbs from Cumberland, Maryland up to Pittsburgh. I’ve only biked small portions of this trail but it is equal in beauty to the C & O, changing your view from the river to one of the mountains and farms of Western Pennsylvania. This trail takes you through long tunnels cut through the Laurel Highlands and into old railroad towns that will present you with lodging and meal options. You can camp,easily, along the C & O Canal, but I do not think you can do this on the GAP.

There is a simple freedom to riding. I wonder what Thoreau would say about riding’s ability to let you explore; I think there is a meditative element to biking. You can let the rhythm of pedaling help you zone out and the safety of being on a trail prevent you from having to worry about navigating around automobiles.  And you can enjoy the view.

But, enough writing. Time to get the bike on the car. See you on the trail.






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