Cyrus Does the C&O

Cyrus Does the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal!

Bicycle Adventurers: Joshua and Cyrus

When: July 23 – 25, 2015

Where: Chesapeake & Ohio Canal in Maryland and West Virginia

Accomodations: Hiker-Biker campsites along the canal at Calico Rocks (mile 47.6) and Indian Flats (mile 42.5).

Distance: 77 miles over three days.

Bonus tip for this adventure: There is so much to see and do along the C&O Canal. The towpath is practically flat so it makes for easy riding for just about anyone. Campgrounds are plentiful and civilization is never far away. There is a lot of history and natural beauty to take in, so don't rush it.

This is the story of how my eight-year-old son bagged his first real overnight bike packing trip on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal.

Day One

Cyrus and I woke early on day one and hit the road. It was just over two hours from our home in Delaware to our put-in point on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal at Riley's Lock. We arrived just after 1:00, unloaded the bikes from the car, and still had a plenty of daylight for our first full afternoon of riding.

I think Cyrus was a bit nervous about heading into the great unknown, but his nerves were soon calmed once his wheels started rolling on the crunchy gravel of the C&O. We took our first break at White's Ferry, about 13 miles in. I had originally planned a 20 mile day, but when we reached our goal and I asked Cyrus if he wanted to call it day or move on, he quickly said "let's keep going." Five miles later, we pulled into Calico Rocks campsite, set up camp, and were quickly overtaken by the mosquitoes. After a hurried dinner, we had to retire to the tent for some reading time in order to escape the bugs. Great first day!

Day Two

Day two was our biggest day, with thirty-one miles and a visit to historical Harper's Ferry, WV. Our goal was to ride out to our turn-around point at Harper's Ferry, eat lunch and enjoy the sites, then retrace our route down the canal to our campsite at Indian Flats. We made one pit stop in the town of Brunswick for a cookie and juice (coffee for me), and Cyrus scored some plastic army soldiers for campsite entertainment.

Harper's Ferry is always a good time, and Cyrus enjoyed walking the bridge into town. We had a big lunch, scored our dinner for later at the local outfitter shop, and topped it off with some ice cream before heading back to our bikes and the trail. We reached our campsite at Indian Flats in time to make dinner, and we were pleasantly surprised by the absence of biting insects for our second night.

Day Three

After waking, eating breakfast, and packing up camp, Cyrus and I pedaled our last twenty miles back to the car at Riley's Lock. Cyrus enjoyed ticking off the mile markers along the canal and, even then, I could sense his pride in having accomplished such a monumental adventure. We stopped frequently, relived our journey together, and took in the history that mingles with the natural beauty along this spectacular trail.

We were both tired and energized on the drive home, and couldn't help but talk about our next big adventure.

Your favorite local bike shop?
Wooden Wheels
141 East Main Street
Newark, DE 19711

Bike overnight tips and tricks?

  • Pick trips that you can adjust on the fly. The C&O canal has many campsites/towns that make it easy to stop early or push on through.
  • You can never have too many snacks...especially with kids.
  • Bring books and simple entertainment.
  • Bug spray, bug spray, bug spray!!

HOW ABOUT YOU? Inspire others by submitting your bike overnight adventure!

3 responses so far ↓

Jude - Nov 10, 2015 at 3:57 PM

One, love it when kids and their parents ride together. A very good way to bond. Two, it's a huge boost of confidence for kids as to what they can accomplish. It's simply empowering just like when your son wanted to keep going. Three, there's no denying it's FUN for everyone.

Jude - Nov 10, 2015 at 4:00 PM

And finally, a huge CONGRATULATIONS! to him and to you as well! :) Well done!

Jim - Nov 11, 2015 at 12:00 PM

congrats! Great ride and great write up!
I went to UD for undergrad and totally remember wooden wheels.

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