It has been an absolute blast riding this week because of the weather. I have gotten on the trail early enough in the morning with the temperatures still in the low 60s. Some people may feel too cold under these conditions, but this kind of weather is ideal for me. I rode down to the city twice, and from there on to the Mt. Vernon trail and the Arlington Loop on the different days.
It feels like the effort level that I am putting into riding, especially when I am on a level surface, has gone down. I can feel very relaxed even when moving along quite briskly. The wheels keep turning easily, and I do not feel like I am pushing it to keep up the pace. The weather might have something to do with it. Hope it stays this way for the long ride.
As I was approaching Great Falls yesterday, I saw a great blue heron on the trail beside the canal. I expected it to fly away as I got closer, but it did not. I stopped my bike (front brake squealing!), pulled out my camera, and walked on the trail beside it taking pictures without a zoom lens. It did not flinch. This has not happened before. If the herons are this close, they usually fly away. I finally returned to my bike with the bird still hanging around. I wonder if the birds are getting too friendly for their own good.
I also ran across a big group of kids on the trail who made my morning! They were blocking the trail when I first saw them in the distance. But I was observed while still in the distance, and they all moved in a systematic way to a side and then turned to face the side of the trail I was riding. It was as if they were waiting for the show, similar to a march-past. And so a show was what I put on! I rode past them trying to show good form, crouched over the handlebars a little bit, and feet pumping systematically, and moving efficiently. As I rode by, keeping a good pace and thanking them for clearing the trail, they cheered me on enthusiastically. I heard at least a couple of “woohoos!” I am hoping that at least one of the kids was motivated enough by the encounter to consider asking their parents for a bike so that they could ride the trail. Any chance of this happening?
Here are some pictures taken from the rides.
This is a view of the trail in a section of Widewater that kept getting washed away until they built this structure. I do remember traversing this section before this construction. You essentially had to navigate a pile of rocks. People on bicycles would ride the Berma Trail which ran along the other side of Widewater in order to get past this section.
Here is a picture of a sweet chestnut fruit taken in a a park on the Mt. Vernon Trail. It took me a while to identify this fruit. I actually thought that chestnuts did not grow in the country any more because of the blight that wiped them out in the early 1900s. So this was a surprise.This is a view of activity on the Potomac seen from the Key Bridge as I was returning from Virginia.This is Lock 6 in the middle of the day when I stopped to eat a sandwich during one of the rides.This is a bridge across the canal near mile 12. It feels great to ride in the shade of the trees on a sunny day.And today I came across this shy fellow on the trail.I am now done with my practice rides. The bike I have been using will get its final wash for a while. I have put many miles on it and it has served me well. Now on to Pittsburgh!