This afternoon I rode the WO&D trail (in northern Virginia) from Vienna to Purcellville, a total of 67 miles round-trip for me. The two noteworthy items of interest: one female rider didn't need any fancy bottle cages (nothing colorful, no interesting design, no carbon); she just used her cleavage. Also, in my 3 years of serious riding, I have never been chased down by a dog, but the squirrels always seem to cross the path right in front of me (on the trails or the roads). Well today it wasn't a squirrel; I was riding along minding my own business when suddenly a beaver crossed the trail, literally 3 feet in front of the tire of the rider coming in my opposite direction and a foot in front of mine. I was going about 22 mph at the time, so that wouldn't have ended well.
November, Trek OCLV, Bianchi Castro Valley commuter
That "beaver" may have been a ground hog - I've seen many along the trail, especially west of RT 28. I think most of the suicidal ones have been scared off - haven't had a kamikaze run for about a month. But early in June, one almost took out myself and 4 other riders (the 3 with me and one coming the other way). I had just enough time to think "this is going to HURT!". No time to brake (and it would have put at least one of the other 3 in my group into me) or swerve. I thought I missed it, but the guy behind me said it did a tumble as I passed and thought I clipped it with a pedal or my rear wheel. A tiny faster or if it had been a tiny slower and it would have been curtains for someone!
You need to get out early enough for the deer. Try an oh-dark-thirty ride some morning around dawn - the trail and surrounding area is thick with them, it's unusual when I don't see at least one. You have to yell and make noise to get them to move.
You're right; in hindsight, this was more likely a groundhog. It was a fat sucker with a bushy tail, leading me to initially think it was a beaver; but again, I was going about 22 mph at that point, and there was no time to react (brake or swerve). And yes, this was west of Rte 28, between Purcellville and Leesburg on the way back.