I had planned to cycle the C&O Trail in the US year. I had knee surgery in January. Post-surgery, I didn’t trust how my knee would handle touring, yet the C&O falls deep into “Easy Button”. 1.5% grade, decidated trail, near to home, camping spots every few miles. And it would finally let me answer “yes” to all the people who ask if I’ve toured in the US!
Then Covid. Campgrounds and national parks shut down. Countries and states closed borders. With the future wildly uncertain, I canceled my Spring trip. Easy enough – stay home for a few months and wait out Covid. I spent a lot of time volunteering at the Durham Bike Coop. Combining kayaking and cycling by setting shuttle by bicycle to improve social distancing. I built an automated Nerf turret. I converted most of my gaming to on-line. I enrolled in a stem cell study for my knee.
One now-obvious flaw in my plan to outwait Covid. Covid in the US didn’t go away. Instead, it’s grown, with no endpoint in sight. However, life in the US has, at least, stabilized to a new normal. I can’t stay home forever. Cycle touring can be done in social isolation.
My plans for the C&O had varied. I could start in DC. I could extend the trip across the Allegheny Trail to Pittsburgh. I could then go west to the Mississippi. From there I could go south to the Gulf. Instead of starting in DC, I could leave directly from the house and head up the East Coast Greenway to DC.
The uncertainty of Covid adds uncertainty to even the most normal. I’ve felt that impact across my entire life. As one example, even rivers I’m exceedingly comfortable on now leave me a bit on edge. I decided to start the simplest way possible – drive to DC. Head west until I decide to turn around. I’ve tried to keep my expectations low. If my knee fails, I’m at lot closer to home than normal (without a $1000 flight!). After that I’ll just see. At a baseline, maybe three weeks? Life cycle touring? Uncertain.
I started packing (About an hour later? Done packing). A friend in DC will let me park my car at their place for an indefinite period of time. At yesterday’s followup for the stem cell study, I cleared the final hurdle – medical approval for long-distance cycling.
Now? I’m in a motel just outside of DC. I’ll drop my car off in the morning, bike to the trailhead in DC, and start another tour. Starting in DC? Recent flooding of the Potomac. And, of course, the “uphill” option.