When it started getting light outside, I woke up and decided to walk up to the dining car for breakfast. Kay and Joyce were still asleep. I bought some oatmeal and ate in the dining car. After returning to my seat, I checked the weather forecast. Unfortunately, it looked like we were going to have rain showers all day. I decided to change into my leggings and waterproof pants before the train pulled into Alexandria.
Deboarding the train was much easier than boarding, but we still had to carry our bikes quite a distance to the taxis. Later, we decided that it would be smarter to unfold our bikes and roll them as much as possible. We took the mini-van taxi to the Enterprise Car Rental, which was adjacent to the Hilton Garden Inn, our lodging for the night. After renting the car, we headed toward Purcellville, the western terminus of the W & OD trail.
Our driving route included two tolls totaling almost $7! We ran into some traffic on the beltway which we later attributed to three truckers riding side-by-side in protest of the government shutdown. Since Joyce was having difficulty charging her phone, we took a detour to Best Buy in Leesburg to purchase a new charger. We continued on to Purcellville where we ate lunch at Market Burger, a local favorite near the bike trail.
Only 15 minutes behind our schedule, we unloaded our bikes and prepared for our ride. The rain showers forced us to question whether we would be able to ride the whole 44.5 miles back to our hotel in Arlington. Kay offered to meet us at the Ashburn trailhead, which was 17 miles from the starting point. We synchronized our watches and started riding.
Fortunately, the rain slacked off to a drizzle and we were able to enjoy the beautiful fall leaves on this stretch of the trail. With picturesque farmland on both sides of the trail, we quickly saw why the W& OD was selected as a Hall of Fame trail.
Between Purcellville and Ashburn, we had numerous close encounters with deer leaping across the trail. Arriving in Ashburn ahead of the time that Kay was supposed to meet us, we decided to ride on to Reston (9 miles). The rain showers persisted, but so did we as we pedaled on to Reston. Agreeing that we couldn’t get any wetter than we already were, we called Kay to notify her that we’d decided to meet her at the end of the trail.
I started noticing that my seat was loose, and I decided to stop and tighten it. Although I packed my Allen wrench, I could not find it in my fanny pack. Unable to tighten the seat by hand, I was forced to manually adjust it underneath me while riding – a chore which became increasingly difficult as the seat became looser. I had no choice other than to make do with a floppy seat for the final 11 miles into Arlington. To make matters more interesting, the rain showers had intensified. The relentless rain caused the Four Mile Creek to flood over the bike trail in a few spots. In fact, at one underpass, we had to make a short detour to avoid the rushing waters.
Near the end of the trail, we passed a ranger who confirmed our directions back to the hotel and warned us about taking the lower level shortcuts due to flooding. We reached the end of the trail and rode a couple more blocks to meet Kay at the Enterprise Car Rental. Drenched and ready for a hot shower, we were pleasantly surprised to hear that Kay had already returned the car, checked into the hotel, and carried our luggage to the room.
After taking well-deserved long, hot showers, we carried our dripping clothes down to the laundry on the 2nd floor and walked to dinner. We ate at a Mexican restaurant in the Villages @ Shirlington, which was located adjacent to the hotel. While waiting for a table, we walked next door to Best Buns and bought our breakfast for the next morning. I stuffed my quisedias down like I hadn’t eaten in days then volunteered to go back to the hotel to move our clothes from the washer to the dryer. I set up the rollaway bed while waiting for Joyce and Kay to return from dinner. Joyce helped me fix my seat, and then we all got ready for bed. Lights out by 9 PM!