Day 24 – A Biker’s On-Board Computer
Today was my first attempt at the Chesapeake and Ohio Towpath. It was just as advertised: rough, when compared to the finely graded GAP rail trail. In my 28-mile journey to Hancock, MD, I began to marvel at how quickly the brain responds to a multitude of inputs almost simultaneously. For a rider, just like a tight-rope walker, there are more decisions than steering and balancing. Because the trail is not uniform, many of the following factors come into play. One must constantly be on the lookout for obstacles of all varieties. Even a 3/4 inch stone can be a serious impediment, while a 2″ – 3″ inch stone can throw you. Navigating these can feel like flying the Millennium Falcon through an asteroid belt. Add to these factors such as ruts formed by dried tracks of prior riders, tree roots of various sizes, branches, twigs, imbedded rocks, depressions, standing water, loose gravel, and a ride-able path less than a foot wide, and you have some idea of only the external variables which must be processed instantaneously to avoid a calamity. This, of course, does not include a host of factors like balance, riders in your path, choosing to ride in the opposite lane to avoid some of the above mentioned negatives, or a precipitous bank on either side awaiting a mis-turn. Obviously, not every miscue has a severe consequence. Perhaps it results in only a sudden jarring or sending that 1” stone careening off a guide-rail 30′ across the roadway. The point is that the marvelous brain can assimilate, process, and produce amazingly accurate results in a fraction of a second. For this I am extremely thankful.
Jenny met me in Paw Paw and we were able to hike through the lightless, six-tenth mile long tow path tunnel. For most people artificial lighting is required to transverse the four-foot wide path mottled with holes and lined with a railing preventing a fall into the old canal. The arched ceiling may be 25′ above the water surface, while the path is about ten feet from the water.
Naturally, the math teacher part of me wanted to pose the question: how many bricks are lining the inside surface. Any takers? Didn’t think so.
While riding some extra miles on the Western Maryland Rail Trail, I had three deer sightings on an eleven-mile path. And to my surprise on the third sighting I was able to raise my weapon, aim, and click. Finally, the proof of at least one report can be seen.
After riding, Weaver’s Restaurant, the only one in town discounting Hardee’s and Sheetz, proved a delightful ending to a good day. Tomorrow could be a washout. Nevertheless, Wednesday’s finish is still in sight. Keep on praying. Thanks.