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Tent catepillar patrol on the WO&D ...(24 posts)

Tent catepillar patrol on the WO&D ...Humma Hah
May 13, 2001 4:16 PM
... so there I am, riding with my wife on the WO&D trail west of Washington, DC. She's on her way to a personal best, a 16-mile ride, and we're averaging something like 8-10 mph. I'm riding the parallel gravel path much of the time in hopes of getting a LITTLE exercise benefit. Folks are passing us I know I could keep up with or pass under ordinary circumstances. So what to do?

The answer: kill tent catepillars. They're a noxious pest, and it makes sense to clobber them. There are a number of them on the trail. At that low speed, you can spot them and run them over, making a good exercise in bike handling. The cruiser's fat steet slicks are ideal for the job, and the catepilliars make a distinct "pop" when you hit them just right. Great fun, if a bit messy.
re: Tent catepillar patrol on the WO&D ...Teach
May 13, 2001 4:29 PM
Too funny!! I've been so pleased to avoid the caterpillars on the road over the past few weeks. (No, I haven't swerved to avoid them. I've just been lucky!) Great to see you back on the board every once in awhile!
I'm not ordinarily so mean ...Humma Hah
May 13, 2001 7:08 PM
... I catch wasps and release them outside, for example. And butterfly caterpillars I leave alone. But tent caterpillars are almost as bad as gypsy moth caterpillars (our place in WV was just sprayed to kill those nasty little tree defoliators). One of our neighbors has been going around with a propane torch burning every gypsy moth egg mass he can find -- now he has gypsy moths AND trees covered with burn marks.
re: Tent catepillar patrol on the WO&D ...Von Zip
May 13, 2001 7:25 PM
Did your wife know you were doing this?
It was her idea ....Humma Hah
May 14, 2001 11:23 AM
... she noticed them first and said she wished they were all dead. She turned out to be pretty good at it. I find her ancient Higgins 3-speed to be a bit on the twitchy side, and the 1 3/8 tires not quite as good as my 1 3/4 for squishing creepy-crawlies, but she scored quite a few hits herself.

I'd guess the score at the end of the day was Humma Hah about 200, tent caterpillars 0. Of course, the caterpillars only need to score 1.
The whole idea gives me the creeping woolies....NMDINOSAUR
May 13, 2001 7:33 PM
May 13, 2001 8:27 PM
Washington & Old Dominion
I caught that ...Humma Hah
May 14, 2001 11:24 AM
... after I'd posted, but hoped nobody would notice.
here in phillyishmael
May 13, 2001 9:31 PM
one gets there handling skills on the river road while maneuvering to avoid swarms of gnats...they are teeny but there are tons of them and i find myself bobbing and weaving trying not to eat too many...i dont shave my face or legs and by the end of an evening ride with sunblock on i feel myself always trying to squish some bigger ones that get in my helmet by sticking my fingers into the wind holes, it used to drive me nuts..
Nice to have you aboardmike mcmahon
May 13, 2001 10:18 PM
Is it just my imagination, or have Ishmael's recent posts been friendly, comprehensible, and related to the thread to which they respond? I'm glad to see that Ishmael is now a productive member of the RBR community. Keep up the good work. :-)
Nice to have you aboardishmael
May 14, 2001 7:05 PM
the whole computer thing was new to a more mature user now, mostly...thank you for the friendliness....
The ones in San Diego tasted horrid ...Humma Hah
May 14, 2001 11:31 AM
... and tended to go right down my windpipe if I made the mistake of riding with my mouth open. There was a period of about half an hour each morning and evening when swarms of them gathered on certain corners at Lake Miramar, always in the shadows where they were almost impossible to see. After the first encounter, you could predict where you would hit them on the following lap, and just purse your lips and squint as you passed through the swarm.
do you wear glassesishmael
May 14, 2001 7:11 PM
mine are prescription buddy holly style and dont keep out enough bugs...i was thinking while riding today that if keep up this sport im either going to have to get some decent prescription biking glasses or im going to have some really red and ugly eyes some day from all the bugs...any ideas on where to get cheap and good prescription riding glasses...
I do wear glasses ...Humma Hah
May 15, 2001 7:51 AM
... when I started riding at the lake, I was wearing contacts and wrap-around sunglasses. The trouble with that was these particular bugs show up around dawn and dusk, where dark mid-day sunglasses must come off, leaving me with no protection. The wrap-arounds are great protection but hard to fold up and store, so carrying a second set of clear ones would be difficult. Combined with the fact that my aging eyes could no longer read writing on a map without reading glasses, I finally gave up on contacts.

Now I wear a pair of Rx glasses, fairly large lenses to keep out the bugs, and they're featherweight Transitions photogreys. Not stylish, but they do seem to work well.
Hey, I was out there (skipping work) on May 4...Greg Taylor
May 14, 2001 2:17 PM
...and ran over a snake. Didn't see the bugger. He/she/it must have slithered off into the bushes because it wasn't there on the return trip. Add that to my tally this month of one squirrel and a couple of joggers with headphones...

May 4 was "Bike to Work" day in the Washington area. Seeing as we commute by bike every day, our gang decided to celebrate by not going to work and just riding around all day. So we ditched work and did a "lap" of the W&OD, starting down near Mt. Vernon. Connected the GW Parkway trail with the Nelly Custis and the W&OD. Got in about 120 miles. Had a good time, but the W&OD is really frustrating until you get past Herndon -- too many road crossings.
So far I've only done Rt 28 to Leesburg ...Humma Hah
May 14, 2001 4:35 PM
... and back. My wife commented that its not as scenic as the Lake Miramar bike path where we've been riding in San Diego. For me it was abominably flat, too much traffic, and I couldn't go off "chasing rabbits" like I normally do as that would be impolite to wifey. I hear it gets hillier to the west, but she isn't up to it yet.

Today I pieced together an 18.7 mile loop around Manassas. I did manage to climb about 800 ft, but could hardly tell, just gentle rolling. The biggest climb was maybe 100 ft. My average speed was well above my typical San Diego rides due to the relative flatness. And it was obvious the Virginia drivers rarely see cyclists -- with paved shoulders rare, I was as far right as possible, even riding the coarse gravel (one of the reasons I stuck with a cruiser in the old days was the incompatibility of roadbike tires with Virginia's shoulders), but the motorists still either slowed down to a crawl, afraid to pass me, or swerved clean over in the other lane, as if I were likely to swerve halfway across their lane or something. Plus an unforecast rain squall came thru, strong wind whipped up the dust and pollen.

Durn, have I missed all that! Its wonderful to be home again!
You've missed the best part!Greg Taylor
May 15, 2001 7:16 AM
The ride between Leesburg and Purcellville is the nicest stretch. Pretty short (about 10 - 12 miles) and a gentle climb through Clark's Gap.

Did you see the sign for the Old Dominion brewery near Ashburn? It is a couple of miles out from Rt. 28/Sterling. It is sited in an industrial park, but it does have a taproom and serves a good lunch. Fresh Beer = "A Good Thing".

Check out either the Reston Bike Club or the Potomac Pedlers -- they have good rides in that area.

Another good FLAT place to take the spouse is the C&O Canal. Take the ferry across the river at Leesburg (White's Ferry) and the towpath is right there on the Maryland side. I think that it beats the W&OD all to pieces in terms of scenery...
She put a cycling guidebook on the sofa this morning ...Humma Hah
May 15, 2001 7:45 AM
... that mentioned a White's Ferry loop that can tie into the W&OD. The mileage and terrain it probably over her head for now, along with climbing Clark's Gap. I'd do either in a heartbeat.

I wouldn't stop for a brew on a ride, but do they have brewer's malt extract? I've been wanting to try it as a substitute for gel. We stopped at an antique store that may be the same town you mentioned. It is difficult to carry furniture on a bike so I'm not sure it is the best place for that kind of store. If it were mine, I might stock mostly small items (jewelry, perhaps), plus antique cycles and cycling memorailia.
I was thinking of joining Potomac Velo ...Humma Hah
May 15, 2001 7:59 AM
... as they meet every other month at the A-1 Cycles store in Manassas, about 4.5 miles from me, and likely to be my main LBS. Plus, they hold cyclocrosses and evidently have some singlespeed interests -- I'd like to build up a singlespeed cyclocrosser. However, they seem to be a small club, with some roadie activity but maybe not a slow enough group for the cruiser to keep up.

I'd love to ride Potomac Peddlers' 200k Brevet out of Warrenton, which should be right at my endurance limit on the cruiser, with sufficient time to finish.
I did both of their Cyclocross Events ...Greg Taylor
May 15, 2001 8:32 AM
...last November and December. Good events, and they seemed like a really nice bunch of folks.

Leesburg is a good place to explore and use as a base for rides in the area. There is a bed & breakfast (the Norris House Inn -- they are on the web) that (1) is guaranteed to pamper the spouse, and (2) caters to cyclists. The jaunt from Leesburg to White's Ferry is pretty nasty -- it runs along Route 15. On the Maryland side of the ferry is a parking lot where you could drop off the car and go ride on the canal.

If you want to be a real hero to the spouse, spring for a weekend at the Bavarian Inn in Shepardstown. Really very, very nice. It is on the West Virginia side of the river, but the C&O canal kicks in over across the Rumsey bridge. It has a pedestrian sidewalk for the more timid rider.

The Potomac Peddler website has some good cue sheets.
You've missed the best part!1EyedJack
May 15, 2001 11:50 PM
The Purcellville-Leesburg portion of the W&OD really is a nice section, but it's still pretty flat and really uncrowded (but hurry up before the development spreads westward!). The grade is slight going east to Clark's Gap, but once you get past that you can cruise a little quicker in to Leesburg. On Saturdays you can stop by plum grove cyclery in leesburg for free fruit and drink. There's been talk of the W&OD being extended west from P.ville to Round Hill (about 5 miles, maybe). Also, if you've not been to Harper's Ferry, WV before, it's a must see off the C&0. Historic town, site of John Brown's raid, and tons of old buildings and ghost stories. There's also a wax museum! Coming into town, stand on the train bridge and wait for an engine to come by. Then you can head off the bridge into town. There are some nice hills there to go pushing up if it strikes your fancy.

1EyedJack does know Jack About The C&O...Greg Taylor
May 16, 2001 6:46 AM
Harpers Ferry is really wonderful. The big draw for me is the Hilltop House hotel. Old, front porch with rockers, atop Boliver Heights, overlooking the confluence of the Potomac and the Shennandoah rivers. Rooms are cheap, and they have a good dinner buffet. And they are wonderful about storing bikes for guests!
Someone here told a story ...Humma Hah
May 16, 2001 5:24 PM
... about encountering a rider on the W&OD who was on the last leg of a cross-US trip, had run out of tubes cycling the trail in the rain. It really does give you the opportunity to cover some serious distance without encountering cars. Being a railroad grade, I suspect the worst grade is around 2%.
Just watch out for...1EyedJack
May 16, 2001 10:43 PM
...the cow crossing between Leesburg and Purcellville.