White’s Ferry Ride

The neck is better and I am back on the bike–the cross bike, because the road bike is in the shop.  At the very least I need a new freehub, and maybe a new wheel, so in the meantime I am on the cross bike.

When the shop called to tell me about the freehub, the caller began the conversation with “I am sorry to tell you, there’s a big problem.” I assumed they’d found a frame crack or something — not a broken freehub, especially given that I’d taken it in precisely because there was a freehub problem.

So anyway, having no road bike right now, yesterday I set out on my cross bike. In my experience, even with 32C cross tires at 60 pounds pressure my cross bike is just about as fast as my road bike, maybe because it’s a more modern lightweight bike ( a Cannondale with Campy Record 10 speed group and wheels) compared to my road bike (a 1990 Serotta Davis Phinney with Campy centaur 10-speed alloy group). I set off on the W&OD for Purcelville, a 72-mile round-trip ride from my house that I do a lot.  I thought that with the cross bike I would stay on the paved W&OD on the way out, and then ride on the dirt and gravel paths along it on the way back.  I’d done this twice from Leesburg back home, and it was a blast.  But then in Leesburg I decided to head to White’s Ferry.

After reaching Leesburg in pretty good time (18.1 mph average), I had to slow riding Route 15 to White’s Ferry Road due to an accident and a big backup. Thank god for cross tires so I could ride on the gravel shoulder.

View from White’s Ferry:

View from White's Ferry

After the ferry crossing I went into the store and got a coke and peanut butter crackers and sat down with Ed Brown.  Ed told me that he’d bought the property and started the ferry in 1946 (an older ferry had gone defunct). We had a long chat.  He is 96 years old and still practicing law in Silver Spring two days a week. Very impressive.

I then started on the C&O towpath.  It’s a nice trip but frankly kind of monotonous.  I rode hard–keeping my speed between 18 and 20 when no one was near me, but slowing to pass.  There were few other cyclists and not too many hikers, except around Great Falls and some other park near there, where you pretty much have to crawl.

I like my Fizik Arione saddle, but for some reason I experienced butt soreness.  I kept think i ought to stop and get off for a few minutes but waited until I saw a massive snapping turtle crossing the trail.  Here he is:


I proceeded to Chain Bridge, where I checked my average speed again.  I was sure I would have been over 18 mph, but no, it was just around 17.7, no doubt due to the real slow riding around Great Falls and other parks where there are lots of pedestrians.  Then over the bridge and home. I took it easy and my average speed for the ride went down to 17.0 mph.

Overall it was a pretty good ride, but I think next time I’ll try the gravel trails along the W&OD.