This weekend Mary and I took a pass on the D.C. Randonneurs’ first 300K event this year and did our own thing. And it turned out pretty cool.
Mary has not been able to do a lot of long riding this winter for good reason: She’s working toward another graduate degree at night and on weekends. We thought something shorter would be a good move to get ready for the second DCR 300K coming up later in April.
We also knew the cherry blossoms would be blooming along the National Mall area near our home and we wanted to take a spin around Hains Point on Saturday in case it was closed this week due to coronavirus restrictions. It has not been closed, but parking was mostly prohibited, which was a rather brilliant idea. Hains Point felt more like a park rather than the car track it often becomes on weekends.
The two days turned out better than we expected — rain was predicted for most of Sunday — and we got to witness a little lost doggy get a lot of attention when it was stranded over the Potomac River.
We talk a lot about how hard it’s been to shake the blues from the pandemic. A long ride seemed like just the ticket to getting out of our funk. The blossoms are always uplifting, so why not enjoy them?
Saturday: no ferry, more miles
The loop ride that many Washington cyclists enjoy out to Leesburg, Virginia on one side of the Potomac and back on the other has been disrupted by the closure of White’s Ferry in December. While the ferry company has been purchased, it’s still not back in operation. The next available crossing is the bridge 15 miles upriver at Point of Rocks, Maryland.
From our house to Point of Rocks and back is 107 miles, using the W&OD Trail to Leesburg outboad and returning in Maryland via Potomac and Georgetown. We decided it would be a good stepping-stone ride to build our endurance. We added the three-mile morning lap of Hains Point, where we found the cherry blossoms in their first day of magnificent bloom.
Saturday was also the first day of warm spring weather, with highs in the 70s and mostly sunny skies. After the lap we rode to our favorite coffee shop on the W&OD, Amouri Coffee in Vienna, and had a leisurely stop before joining the masses on the rest of our trail miles.
At Leesburg the route took us over the partly-unpaved Old Waterford Road, and from Waterford we enjoyed Loyalty Road with captivating valley views. At Taylorstown a left on unpaved Furnace Mountain Road got us over the ridge and down to the mad dash across the US15 bridge to Point of Rocks.
We ate our COVID-19 safe lunch we brought from home in the town park along the C&O Canal towpath trail.
A short six-mile run on the C&O, which was in prime condition with low dust and no standing water, brought us out at Dickerson and from there we took paved roads back to Washington. A closed road added a few miles via a detour, and we arrived home just after 5:30 p.m. with 113.6 miles, a 14.9 mph rolling average and 5,758 feet of elevation gain.
Overall, it was a good outing and one that we felt in our legs on Sunday but wasn’t overly hard. You can see our track at Strava.
Sunday: The rescue of Whiskey
On Sunday we waited until the rain passed and went out for a few laps around Hains Point and to get crucial coffee. The morning rain kept most of the people away and we had the blossoms mostly to ourselves along with a few other riders and pedestrians.
After a run to Swing’s Coffee Roasters in Alexandria and back, we returned to find a fire truck and Park Police activity around a pier below the CSX rail bridge over the Potomac. A little honey-colored dog was trapped on the pier, having apparently jumped down from a gap in the bridge deck.
A Park Police officer was also on the pier, crouched under the bridge, trying to lure the dog with food. After other officers arrived and Park Police and Metropolitan Police Department boats came over, the officer calmly picked up the dog and brought him back to land in the fire truck bucket.
A small cheer went up from the assembled onlookers and happy photos were taken by the Park Police of all involved. We found out later the dog’s name was Whiskey and he was reunited with his owners.
After another lap we called it a weekend on the bike. The dog rescue drama had a happy ending and we took a lot of pleasure in witnessing a simple animal feel-good story. In these times, we were glad to be part of a kind act that brought a smile to everyone at the scene.