Well, I finally took the Brompton out on the C&O Canal, one of my favorite places to ride. It was just a short ride, totalling 15 miles, a simple out and back from the Carderock area, a really convenient place for me to start. The bike handled the dirt towpath with aplomb, although I have to admit the few really muddy patches I hit were a bit tricky. Then again, they're not that fun on a bike with full sized wheels either.
It was Tuesday and a day off for me, and I was due to visit my mom over in Maryland, but I had a little time of my own, so I decided to stop at the Canal on the way. I'm really glad I did, because it was a beautiful day, and I had a GREAT time. I always find the towpath a joy to walk or ride, and having some quiet time alone to enjoy it was a good thing. The air was clear and fresh, the sky was blue, and the ever-changing light was beautiful. And it turned out to be a good day for wildlife as well.
The first thing that really struck me while riding was the amazing reflections on the surface of the canal. The air was clear and calm, so the water was like glass, mirroring the sky, the trees, and rocks. I don't know when I last saw it so mirror-like... take a look at the pictures below and see:
I also had the good fortune to see a number of birds... vultures, cormorants, a couple of kingfishers, and several great blue herons. I spied one of the latter out of the corner of my eyes while zipping along the path, almost missing it entirely. Much to my surprise, the heron stayed put while I took photo after photo. In the picture to the right, you can see how well he blends into the background. Herons are among my favorite birds, so I'm glad I spotted this one.
And while I was busy snapping pictures of the heron, I heard a rustling sound in the underbrush near him, and shifted my gaze just in time to see a rather large red fox pop out of the brush and trot along the opposite bank for a while. He was pretty skittish, so I didn't get a good shot of him, but take a look at the picture to the left and you'll see him. If you can't see him, click on the small image to see a larger version. (Actually, that works with all of the images here.)
Finally, as I was making my way back to my starting point, the moon swung into view above... a big, beautiful, full moon! It was stunning the way it just appeared, shining through the bare branches of the trees, and reflecting on the still waters of the canal. All that was missing was a figure on a broomstick to complete the image!
All in all, a glorious afternoon! Quiet solitude and fresh air, gorgeous scenery and interesting wildlife. It all gave me a bit of a needed boost, and made for a great day off.
And the Brompton worked out just fine on the towpath. So much so that I might try to use it for an overnight trip there sometime, perhaps taking a train to a start point and riding down into the city. I'd have to pack lighter than with my full size touring bikes, but that might be part of the fun of it!
Sun setting over the Potomac River. More images at: C&O Canal, Dec 1, 2009