Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Double WOD


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.
Potomac River

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).

Purcellville, Va.

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