W&OD, Days 1-2

Our first day really was a first night, in that Ron drove us all to the Amtrak station in the red truck, stuffed in a bit like sardines. Our train departed at 8:04 pm and we arrived in Alexandria, Virginia, at 9:23 am on Friday. Our itinerary had us renting a taxi at 9:23 (not 9:30 mind you) to go rent a car for our new fold up bikes and bags. Only one bike fit in the trunk, so the plan didn’t go exactly as expected. One did fit in the back seat with a rider. Kay (our new companion on this adventure) became our “chaser” and drove us to our beginning point after stopping for me to buy an emergency phone charger, and all of us had a bowl of chili at the Market Burger restaurant.

Having these fold up bikes was a new treat for us. We purchased them last month after renting all the time in the northwest. We decided to go with the 24″ wheels from Houndstooth Road in Decatur. Jay Schmidt, the owner, was very helpful in helping learn the ins & outs of the new bike. It’s a bit awkward to carry and especially awkward getting it up the steep steps on the train, but we did it.

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Purcellville Station

So onto the ride . . . It had been raining the whole day but fortunately slowed to just a drizzle for the first hour. That part was also the prettiest scenery and had about a dozen deer at various points along the trail, so that beginning was great, enough to get us thinking about actually doing the whole trail in spite of rain predictions.

We called Kay to say to go on to a farther pick up point in case we wanted to stop there. She was leisurely sight seeing in the old small towns along Highway 7 and agreeable with whatever. Fifteen minutes after leaving Ashburn, our first possible pickup point, the rain started coming down a little harder and then a little more harder (sic). By the time we got to Reston we were pretty much soaked, and when we couldn’t find the pickup restaurant right off we decided to do what each of wanted secretly to do, which was to finish the trail. We had come 27 miles, we were kind of warm in our wetness, we could see where we were going, we had come several hundred miles to do the ride, and we still had the energy, so we said “why not?” Kay was again agreeable to driving back to Shirlington by herself to turn in the rental car and meet us back there. We had gone maybe another 10 miles, though, when Martha’s seat came loose and her riding turned out to be a trick of coordination.

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Joyce on the W&OD Trail

At least the trail was paved. That was our ray of light in the rain adversity. We had to carry the bikes over three places where trees had fallen due the heavy rains and detour a couple of washed out parts from flooding, but we made it back and completed all 45 miles of the trip. After all, we are both a little OCD about finishing these trails. A side comment here: Martha finally disclosed Ed’s concern that she better get these trips done while I was still healthy enough to do them with her. (I had suspected that before getting it out of her.)

We met Kay, had a hot shower, dried our clothes in the hotel drier, got some dinner, and went early to bed, enjoying stretching out as we slept because it had been rough sleeping in the Amtrak seats last night. Now we have finished trail number 14, the Washington & Old Dominion, different from the others, weather wise, but still a good ride.

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