Today was another late start, around 9:30. But there were a mere 30 miles to our final destination in Cumberland, MD. I really expected to make good time until I started riding through the tunnels and crossed the Eastern Continental Divide. Too many things conspired to get me to stop and take photos and videos. The long tunnels, the Mason Dixon line and the spectacular scenery.
There is not a lot between towns on the Great Allegheny Passage. 15-20 miles of stone dust rail trail is about all you see. I wanted to ride the 30 miles to Meyersdale, PA by noon to see the US/German football match. A late breakfast at the Confluence B&B of Omelet, pancakes, bacon, sausage, muffins, yogurt, fruit, granola and lots of coffee made that impossible. I ate so much I felt like a blown up tick and had lots of trouble maintaining 8 miles and hour. At one of the water stops, the volunteer said that Rockwood was a mere 12 miles. MORE
Another late start, 9 AM for this second 50 + mile ride to Confluence, PA. Forty miles into the ride, I was undecided weather or not to stop for a late lunch or keep moving in order to make dinner at tonight’s campground. One of the things about touring is that I eat stuff like nuts and figs or dates to fuel and eat really hearty and healthy in the evening. The food offerings the first two nights was sparse and lacking protein and vegetables. I did have a light cucumber, avocado and muenster cheese on whole grain toast washed down with a couple of Yuengling beers. That decision end up being a disaster when with less than four miles to the B&B the rains came.
Normally rain is not a problem but when your biking on stone dust in the rain s your bike, your clothes and everything else gets coated in muck. The owner of the B&B was wonderful and understanding when I arrived soaked, muddy and disheveled. Sandy gave me all the scoop about the place and handed a key to the place and headed off to her residence a few miles away.
The first order was to get to the nearby laundry mat where the friendliness of people toward travelers soon appeared. The soap machine was not working and a woman doing her laundry offered me her’s to use. I also did not have small bills to turn to change. She directed me to the local market and also asked the manager to stay open long enough for me to finish my wash. It was already 7:30 and the place closed at 8. Before my laundry was complete, another bike tourer came in with her stuff and I gave her the bad news. She also got soap from the good Samaritan and began her wash. She disappeared for a few minutes but returned with a 6 pack of beer and offered everyone a can. The manager, myself and she sat outside and talked till the clothes were done and everyone finished their washing chores smiling with numb faces.
Earlier in the day as I was about to leave the campground in Cedar Creek I met a man riding a fully loaded bike going the opposite direction. He had traveled from Minnesota to York, Pennsylvania and was on his return ride. I mentioned that his panniers looked really loaded and he responded that he had heavy clothing because it was snowing in St Paul when he began his ride.
Back in Confluence, after 2 beers and approaching 9PM, it was time to find a place couple entering their fifth week in business. Eric and Jaimie, who served me a burger that immediately went to the top of my list of “best burgers”. Two other bikers joined me at the horseshoe shaped bar, who had ridden 91 miles from Pittsburgh this day.
Tomorrow will be a zero mile day spending some extra time in Confluence doing the touristy things like a visit to one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s homes or maybe a white water rafting trip.
The humidity had arrived before the 9 AM start. The late time was to allow my clothes, that spent the night draped over the right field fence, to dry. I did run into people now and then but again spent most of the first 25 miles riding alone. I did lunch with a group or touring bikers at a little ice cream, hamburger joint on main street Glassport, PA just outside of Pittsburgh. Those eating outside would call other touring bikers over by raving about this place. I have to say that my meal tops my list of good hamburgers. Perfectly cooked, juicy, tasty beef on a grilled bun. It really hit the spot. Just before departing a neighbor came over so we could meet her dog, Caramel who was named because of her color. Caramel was the sweetest thing who loved vanilla ice cream and having her belly rubbed.
I was beginning to feel the effects of the heat and humidity when I came upon a boat ramp into the Youghoigheny River and couldn’t resist taking a dip. I was about to go back in for a second round when a pickup pulled into the lot, backed in and the driver began aimlessly walking around getting closer and closer to me and never made eye contact. He was just pushing rocks around with his feet trying to act nonchalant. His gal, also in her early 20’s, sat in the truck with her feet on the dash smoking a cigarette. I didn’t like the way things were developing and quickly got dressed and road away. I looked back to see the pickup leaving the lot as I rode away down the path.
I arrived at Cedar Creek around 5:30 to another almost full camp area. I walked to the farthest end and came across an Adirondack, lean to. It’s best described as a small log cabin cut in half with the open side overlooking the river. I carry snacks of nuts and dates that I hung from a tree away from my camp spot just in case.
Tomorrow is another 50 mile plus ride to the town of Confluence, PA
A three hour bus ride from Cumberland, Md to Weirton, W.V. So begins my annual summer bike tour. Once everything was put in order it was a 30 mile slog to Cecil Township, PA and the night’s camping spot.
There is not much to say about the ride but the campground was abuzz with the US/Portugal match being played soon. After a bit of a techno struggle, I was able to watch the game in my phone. I was returning from the beer tent when the US, who till then was a goal down, scored the equalizer. I let our a whoop that got the attention of lots of people. With only seconds remaining and the yanks on the verge of victory, Portugal scored the equalizer and I dropped an F bomb that could be heard around the world.
I did score a prime spot on the bank of a gently flowing brook. When I camp on these tours it’s inevitable that the first night’s sleep is fitful, constantly trying to get comfortable. It took a long time but I finally found my way to slumber land and it looked like I had broken the pattern of a sleepless first night of camping. Mr Frog had other ideas and at 4:30 he decided he was hungry and wanted the whole world to know it. He timing was masterful in that he would croak for a minute, go silent and let me begin to doze then start anew. At 6AM I gave up, arose and had breakfast, broke camp but had to wait for the sun to dry my still wet riding clothes that I had hung on the right field fence of the adjoining baseball field. Soon enough I was off for day 2 and a 50 mile ride to Cedar Creek PA.
It was smooth sailing for most of the drive to Harrisburg, PA and it looked like I would complete the drive in just over 7 hours. While driving on I78 one of those Amber Alert type messages caught my eye briefly saying, “Incident on I-81 at mile 74”. I came across the incident, an accident, and it took me almost an hour to complete the last 8 miles of the drive. No big deal. Just say’n.
I did get to meet a bike blogging friend George, who is undercover as doc when he is online. I guess now though the gig is up. We tried to get a third wheel into this blog-o-sphere meet up but that didn’t work out. Too bad because I was going to offer to pay off his house mortgage. Doc found us a really nice brewery restaurant downtown and we shared stories over good food and really good beer.
After dinner, George gave me a quick tour of downtown Harrisburg which is an architectural gem as the photos will attest. I enjoyed the tour so much that, after being dropped at my hotel, I got right into my car and went back to check the place out more thoroughly.
There is a great footbridge crossing the Susquehanna river that brings you to an island with a soccer and baseball stadium. I bought a ticket for the cheap seats to the AA baseball game that was in the top of the 7th inning. Ten bucks wasn’t bad at all for three innings and a free hat.
Tomorrow, I be driving to Cumberland, MD, spend the day doing some sight seeing of that area. On Sunday, my bike and I will be transported to Weirton, WV and begging our sojourn back to Cumberland by way of Pittsburgh on the Great Allegheny Passage. For now, here are some photos of today’s adventure
I’m still tossing around which bike to bring on tour this weekend. I have a touring bike and a hybrid bike. Both are fine, and neither has an advantage for this easy tour which I suppose is the reason that I keep changing my mind. I’m going to put everything I’m taking on both bike today and hopefully that will settle this conundrum which gets vexing at times.
I’m also putting together everything else I’m taking. The equipment, tent, sleeping bag, netbook, cameras etc. are easy. The clothing to take always causes indecision. I did learn on my first tour a few years ago not to pack cotton shirts. One is OK but that time I think I loaded six of them along with blue jeans, underwear, a couple of long sleeve shirts, a jacket and raincoat. It added so much weight making every mile a lot more work than it should have been. I know how to pack for a tour and now it’s just a matter of fashion sense.
On item that is essential is my US Soccer shirt. My first night on tour, the US/Portugal match is at 5PM. I’ll do my research to find a place in Cecil Township, don my kit, order a pint and suffer the stress that is inherent with the passion of watching my country battle the hated Portuguese. My home town is 60% Portuguese, I grew up playing with Portagees, and playing on Portuguese teams. In 2002, we spanked them good in Korea and being a proud member of AO Providence, R.I.………… I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN on Sunday
Lots of activity all around today. Walkers, runners, bikers and dogs on the MUP. Motorcycles were out in force also on this warm sunny Fathers Day. I tossed around a couple of routes ending up winging the whole ride with no real preset destination. I did the long way around to the town of Wareham MA, near Cape Cod and while in that town stumbled upon a Revolutionary War era reenactment. I have to say that this area loves it’s war history. I usually ignore anything war or military related but these reenactments are so hokey they can be fun. Most of the participants are very nerdy and the Revolution era ones take the cake. I stayed for a few minutes to get some video but slipped away after 20 minutes or so.
My second stop was at the old Tremont Nail, where I came upon the Cupcake truck, claiming the best cupcakes ever made. I got one and it was good, but not special. I think good pretty much translates into lots of sugar. It was OK but I certainly could have done much better for three bucks which would have gotten me lots of fruit, nuts and some change to put back into my pocket.
Finally, around 15 miles from home two fully loaded tourist approached. As they passed across the road I yelled, “youse riding to the Cape?” The pulled over and we talked for a bit. They began their ride in North Carolina and were riding to Maine. I never did get the camera out for these two but maybe I’ll find them online somewhere. They are not posting on Crazy Guy (I asked) but didn’t do a follow up to see if they were posting online somewhere.
In seven days I will leave for the annual summer tour. This one will be loaded with high tech stuff. GPS, a netbook, video and still camera and the newest toy Spot GPS Messenger, a device that sends anyone I wish where I am and my daily route.
I’ll be staying in Harrisburgh, PA on Friday and taking a trip to York, PA for what is arguably the best doughnut possible. From there it’s a short drive to Cumberland, MD where I will board a bus with my bike to Weirton. WV to begin the 6 day bike ride back to Cumberland by way of Pittsburgh.
All the equipment, bike, tent, me , etc. have checked out and all are in good working order. I’m putting in lots of miles am as ready as I have ever been for a tour. Now all that is left is to listen to the Jeopardy tune for the next week while I’m waiting to ride.