USA 2019 Day 3 from Gettysburg to Hancock

The night at the Colton Motel was pretty good. It was quiet and I slept well. The breakfast, however, was a joke: A muffin shrink-wrapped in plastic! Nothing else! And that was offered as “inclusive breakfast”. I know that in American hotels and motels breakfast is often underground, but I call this bold. I do without it and prefer to go on my way.

When I leave I notice the open gas station on the other side of the road. There I stock up with drinks and sandwiches. Then it starts. It is pretty much nine o’clock. The weather looks rather mediocre. It is completely cloudy, but still 20 degrees. Logically, what I wear short bicycle things.

From Gettysburg, I am fast out and drive then quite a while “by the battlefield” from the American civil war. To the left and right of the road, there are statues every few meters, signs and all kinds of souvenirs of this historical event. I just drive through. The Highway runs almost dead straight and is hardly used.

Shortly before Emmitsburg, I leave this highway and the only significant ascent of today over ten kilometers up to the Blue Ridge Summit begins. After the exit, I land again on another highway and cross a state border for the first time on this trip after almost 40 kilometers by day. I leave Pennsylvania and drive into Maryland. The biggest difference at first sight: Now the wind comes from the front! :-)

In any case, it goes on like before, on a highway. After about 60 km by day, I reach the first bigger city in Maryland: Hagerstown. Near the city center, there is the City Park and I take a short break for a drink. The closed cloud cover breaks open and wonderful sunshine comes out.

In no time the thermometer rises to 28 °C. On my way out of the city, I pass a promising cottage that specializes in frozen desserts. It’s logical that I stop there and treat myself to two scoops of absolutely delicious ice cream! As a reward, so to speak, that I have completed about half of today’s stage.

A few kilometers further on I passed a drinks shop where I was able to complete my forefathers. Because with just under 30 °C I have much higher consumption.

Then it was time for me to reach the point of my journey that I had been looking forward to for the last two and a half days: Williamsport! But it’s not about the city. It’s about the place and the way. Williamsport is located at the confluence of Conococheague Creek and Upper Potomac River. The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal also cross here. Here I first take a bridge over the canal to the other side, then I follow the canal over the Creek and now I’m standing at the Potomac River. Downstream it flows through Washington into the Pacific Ocean.

More interesting for me is the way upstream. From here I will follow the Potomac River on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Trail off the beaten track. Not just a few kilometers. A whole day and a half! The canal runs mostly parallel to the river, but in the meantime, it is mostly silted up and has been reconquered by nature.

The trail consists of gravel and can be driven quite well. You have to be careful because the trail itself is quite easy to drive, but from time to time a big stone has strayed into the lane or one of the many trees breaks the ground in the lane with its roots.

The trail lies exactly between the river and the former canal. In former times donkeys often walked here and pulled the ships through the canal. There are many locks to overcome the differences in altitude, many of which are still preserved. Some are hardly recognizable as locks, others look almost usable.

One of the many information boards on this trail tells me that the canal was in operation until 1924. There was a big flood which destroyed a lot. A reconstruction of the infrastructure of the canal was considered no longer worthwhile at that time since there was a railway line in direct proximity and the canal was left to itself.

About 25 kilometers I drive on this gravel trail. Then the now still active railway line, which also leads in direct proximity along, changes the bank and drives now south further along the river. This was not always the case. In former times the railway line drove on the north side. The now no longer active part was rebuilt to a perfect cycle path. From here I continue on the asphalted former railway line and can also profit from repaired bridges. From the Western Maryland Rail Trail, I can see the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Trail. But on the Rail Trail, it rolls much better.

After almost 20 more kilometers, which I managed to cover much faster, I arrive in Hancock. There I rented a night at the Hancock Motel. It’s not typical for the USA that you can’t take your bike to your room. But they have a garage where it is safe overnight. For dinner, I was recommended the grill on the other side of the street. A typical American diner. I had a cheeseburger with fries, which was such a big portion that I only managed half of it and I allowed myself Dr. Pepper with endless refills. I was thirsty and had two refills.

All in all, it was a great day today. Especially the afternoon, where I finally went on a very nice route through a very beautiful landscape. So it can go on!

🕑 Ø
5:45 112 km 19.5 km/h 1’190 m 1’230 m

Yours
Marcus

Written on August 16, 2019