It's local. I ride on portions of it all the time so I never write about it. It is the Washington & Old Dominion Rail Trail, which runs from Arlington Co., near Shirlington, to Purcellville in Loudoun Co.
|Sign for motorists as they enter Virginia from the Key Bridge in Georgetown|
Sign is in Rosslyn next to the Marriott
I could do it more justice by writing about its history. I won't. But it runs 45 miles from Arlington to Purcellville, most of the way on the right of way of the old Washington & Old Dominion, or W&OD, or simply WOD (Wad).
|Not this section but the same boardwalk on the Mount Vernon Trail|
I crashed on this on July 3, 2013
I wanted to do a double, out and back, but wasn't sure where I would start. I also new that a double would give me 90 miles and I might as well go for 100, it being so close and all.
|Passing under the Roosevelt Bridge into D.C.|
Ideally, I'd like to start at the terminus near Shirlington. That is the low point on the trail. And I would head west to Clarkes Gap, the high point, which is between Leesburg and Purcellville. After a turn around it would be all downhill, right?
|Potomac River looking at Memorial Bridge across to D.C.|
Well, not exactly. But that's the rough way to head. And for the extra 10 miles I would add the "Airport Loop" that goes by Washington Reagan National Airport.
|W&OD between Purcellville and Hamilton|
Parking was simple near Gallows Road in Dunn Loring. I started with the Airport Loop. At MP 9, I headed east and picked up the Custis Trail which goes along I-66 into Rosslyn. From there I connected to the Mount Vernon Trail which runs past the airport.
|Lime Kilns in Leesburg|
I was thinking of taking pictures along the way. It was at the end of the Custis Trail or the beginning of the Mount Vernon Trail where I crashed five years ago and broke my wrist and discovered cancer. Then, no more than 1/2 mile further, on the boardwalk was where I crashed July 3 last year and broke my collarbone. This route has not been good to me.
|Four Mile Run Trail under I-395 Shirley Highway|
The Mount Vernon Trail connects to the Four Mile Run Trail which connects to the beginning/end of the W&OD. Then the first eight miles are uphill. A gradual uphill, mostly, except where a railroad grade is not possible and the trail moves onto or next to a street.
|Start/Finish at Shirlington|
From Gallows Road through Vienna, Reston, Herndon, out past Dulles through Ashburn to Lessburg, the trail is mostly flat. There are sections of 1-2% grade, either uphill or downhill, in both directions, but I wouldn't call one direction harder than the other.
|Bridge on W&OD over Rte 7 in Falls Church|
At Leesburg the trail climbs up to Clarkes Gap, through a heavily wooded section which is arguably the nicest on the trail. At Clarkes Gap it goes through Hamilton to Purcellville which is the turnaround point.
|Caboose in Vienna|
That is it. I started at MP 9 and did a loop which made it 26 miles. Purcellville was 63 miles and from there it was another 35 miles or so back to the car. I diverted, both ways, to The Bike Lane, at Reston Town Center to say hello to the guys and fill my bottles with water.
|Stone Bridge at Clarkes Gap|
The W&OD is traffic-free but there are also many intersections with stop signs or even traffic lights (usually very long lights). But if one wants 100 miles on a bike and no traffic - this is it. You are never far from a bike shop or restaurant. In fact, I forget my saddle bag with tubes and CO2 and never ever worried about it - confident that other riders could help me if need me (I did carry an extra tube so I wasn't a complete jerk).