Monday, September 3, 2012

Indian Head Training Ride

After one of the hottest and most humid summers on record, the temperatures here in the Washington DC metro area finally dropped such that I was motivated to spend a few hours on a training ride. With less than a month until the start of my cross-country ride, it's a good thing since most of my training has been limited to spinning classes at the gym (more on this later).  So with temps finally in the low 80s, I decided to drive down to southern Maryland to ride the Indian Head Rail Trail

Located just 18 miles south of the U.S. Capital, the Indian Head Rail Trail is part of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC, working to create a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines. I was looking for that perfect training spot and the Indian Head Rail Trail did not disappoint. It was quiet with only the occasional rider and jogger. 

The beautifully maintained 13 mile paved trail was originally built in 1918 as a railroad supply route for the Navy's Indian Head Powder Factory. The trail's elevated rail bed passes through the Mattawoman Creek stream valley and some of Southern Maryland's most scenic and undeveloped natural areas. The trail is located on the aboriginal homelands of the Piscataway Indian Nation, a state-recognized tribe in Maryland. The 26 mile round-trip ride took me through woodlands, natural wetlands and  a few farms. Along the way I spotted deer, water turtles, herons, egrets, and a variety of other waterfowl. 
The ride was also a welcome opportunity to put some miles on my new Trek 520.  In the several other WomanTour trips I rode my Fuji Silhouette. The Silhouette is a great bike, lightweight and fast, but its aluminum frame is stiff and makes for a hard ride except on the smoothest of roads.  Although the Pacific Coast ride will be on paved roads, I expect some potholes and rough riding on places along the 1,539 miles.  The Trek 520 is a touring bike designed for a comfortable and stable ride. During my 26 mile training ride I found its chromoly steel frame responsive and with good flex over the several wooden bridges and railroad crossings encountered on the ride.  I love my new Trek and I'm looking forward to spending many long hours together during my 30-day cross-country bike ride. 

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