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Sunday mud-wallow on the C&O Towpath ...(6 posts)

Sunday mud-wallow on the C&O Towpath ...Humma Hah
Jun 16, 2003 6:27 AM
Sunday, 15 June, I took the cruiser out to the C&O towpath at Carderock, for a 50-mile qualifying run for the "Tour de Canal" 184-mile 2-day ride scheduled for early September. I intend to ride it on the cruiser. Sunday's ride was up to White's Ferry and back.

Last week's qualifier got rained out, and the earlier rides were shorter training rides, mostly also rained out. I was the only applicant who showed for this one ... I had two "leaders" riding with me. They're the ones who certify that I completed the ride, but they're also required to complete the ride. They were both 50-ish, and I turn 50 next month. They commented that these are the worst conditions they've ever seen on the towpath, which is usually well-worn two-track, packed gravel, and firm dirt.

They were amazed at my choice of ride ... one gear and about 42 pounds (I took the lights off). But I knew the cruiser was BORN for that kind of trail. Almost totally flat, weight was not a handicap, and gears not really necessary. In fact, with the mud everywhere, the weight actually helped me plow thru when the MTB's were slowing dramatically. I finally had to pull ahead and leave them behind, just to avoid getting stopped mid-mudhole.

Early in the ride, the male rider had a slip-up that suddenly whipped his wheel right, and he went over the embankment and almost slid into the canal. He was stopped by the copious poison ivy. Ooops. The female rider was a little thing with a very light Stumpjumper. She had trouble in the mud, with huge losses of velocity and the bike squirreling all over the place. The cruiser's relaxed geometry and high wheel mass prevented any such deflections. At one point, I was going thru a long puddle about 5" deep, when I spotted a branch about 3" in diameter diagonally across my path, under the water. I was sure I was gonna go down, but old Humma just rode right over it with hardly a bump.

They had to stop at water pumps to wash the mud off their ders. Humma's chainguard made that unnecessary.

They both remarked on how little mud I had on my white jersey at the end. They're both going to look into fenders.

The cruiser and I were a filthy mess at the end, but both prettied up considerably with the application of a garden hose.

My conclusion: there is no better bike for the C&O towpath than this old 1938 design. Modern MTB's are, in fact, a poor choice on it.
Jun 16, 2003 10:50 AM
HH, you had me laughing my ass off here at work. "Copious poison ivy"...LOL. I can relate and enjoy the humor in it. In May, there was a local benefit ride for Habitat for Humanity which takes place on horrible roadways in the upscale (or so they think) Treasure Lake region near DuBois. The goat paths that they call roadways are reminiscent of colonial times. They never even graduated to the cobbles and brickways. I took Fred. Fred is my 95 lugged steel wonder bike Bianchi. Equipped with fenders and heavy duty rims and wide tires. I show up with my sleek 25-30 pound road Beater and eat up the others for the day. It was especially enjoyable riding with the Trek racer Wonderboy on his Carpet fiber machine and watching those pretty rims and tires ping off car-holes and nugget size rocks on the road. I never heard so many complaints in my life about how horrible the roads were...I didn't notice. I was too comfortable and Fred was enjoying the ride as well! In the end the youthful enthusiasm was left wallowing in the dust and dismal tree canopied trailways about 10 minutes behind me. Always an enjoyable experience.

So, is there other qualifiears coming up? How many do you have to complete to qualify and how does it work. Just curious. Peace and out

Walt aka
I'm qualified ...Humma Hah
Jun 16, 2003 11:28 AM
... all you need is that 50-miler and $300.

Technically, we were not fast enough to qualify. We averaged 9.7 mph instead of the required 12. However, as I was running ahead and then having to wait for my two leaders, they allowed as how the mud was a bit obnoxious and the cause of the low speeds. Also, we passed other riders but nobody passed us.

The Altzheimer's Association sponsors the run as a fundraiser. Good cause, challenging ride. I'll try to post their link, although I believe I do have the link over on the Rides and Clubs forum.
Great story, it's amazing how the right bike...rwbadley
Jun 16, 2003 8:04 PM
at the right time can help one to look like a genius, (or Lance A. ) Fenders are great.

I showed up for a recent road ride on the old three speed Raliegh. (it's a casual Thursday ride) I thought it was 'road bike' night, but everyone had their mtb's. I rode some of the trail with them, and was having a good time, but out of deference to the antique bike decided to pull off. I think they couldn't believe I was riding the trail at all. The old girl handled it pretty well, really.

It will be interesting to see if your proctors show up for the next ride on old SS, fendered, machines...

Link to the TD Canal website ...Humma Hah
Jun 17, 2003 1:22 PM
Here is a good canal linkcurlybike
Jun 17, 2003 6:37 PM