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  • Writer's picturePatrick Baechle

Stairway to Rosslyn

Yesterday was a long haul, pedal to the metal, push to make it to the end of the C&O canal trail in DC. The high point of the ride was Great Falls National Park where the half mile wide Potomac River squeezes though a narrow canyon and drops a hundred feet. The landscape there is very dramatic with roaring waterfalls and huge piles of big dead tree debris all tangled up in a chaotic messes jambed into canyons from the force of the river.

I arrived at the end of the canal in Georgetown in the backyard of some huge condominiums built directly on top of the towpath. There was a sign there with some kind of zip zag circuitous route which leads you through city streets to the waterfront district where, through further inquiry, you may find the zero mile marker of the C&O tow path. I understand that it is a common ritual for thru-riders to seek out this monument and pose for a selfie in front of it.

Here I was now in the thick of it. The contrasts of this adventure are awesome. I've been in the woods for over a week. I've been sleeping on the ground and sharing my food with animals. I've been wearing the same clothes for days at a time an, to be quite honest, I smell like a foul rancid piece of hamburger baking in the afternoon sun.

"Do you have a reservation sir?" The waiter asks, eying me warily and keeping his distance as if he might catch something. Why no sir, I do not, but if you could please accommodate me and allow me to sit at this outdoor table and have a few beers I would be very appreciative. He set me up at the end table, right next to the promenade, down wind from the other diners. I sat there sipping my beer, reflecting on the great experience I had getting to this place and thinking about the next leg of the trip which, will be very different. I sat there amongst the influential, the movers and shakers and the beautiful people of Metropolitan Washington DC. They were elegantly dressed and coifered for a Wednesday evening stroll. They arrived in exquisite boats and laid out on the decks posing and photographing each other. I made game out of trying to pick out the spies, the CIA and the power brokers. At one point I swear I saw Tom Clancy sitting at a table and then he vanished.

After fishing my celebratory beers, I walked my bike along the promenade and met several very nice people who inquired about my ride and my gear.

At the end of promenade, I now had to figure out how to get to Rosslyn over the Key bridge which was a hundred feet directly above me. After getting directions from a couple of people I found myself confronted with a public stair case wih a little wheel ramp to the side. I now had to push the stubborn elephant up several flights to get to the bridge.

Some things in life change, some remain the same. As I pushed, and struggled, I was reminiscing of stairs next to the gated tunnel on the West Penn trail a week ago.

Today I head to the Pentagon Memorial and then off to our freinds Bill & Mary Jo's, near Arlington, for a rest day.

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