Friday, September 24, 2010
Thanks to Tammy for the transportation to Pittsburgh and then home from DC.
Thanks to Mike for letting me tag along on this journey.
Thanks to my beautiful wife for supporting me on all the crazy things I do.
Thanks to my kids for their support and love during the past year.
And the Biggest Thanks goes to my Lord and Savior for watching over me during this trip and keeping me safe.
Go after your dreams and don't let anyone stop you.
Many people have asked 'would you do it again?'. The Answer is no. Some parts of the trail I would not hesitate to do again and I might just do that. However, the whole trip I would not. Once is enough. I have experienced it and happy that I survived the trip.
Some random thoughts:
Do not be afraid to try something outside of your comfort zone. This was way outside of mine and it was a good experience.
Give bicyclists along the road some room when sharing the road with them. They are pursuing a goal and they also have families that want to see them alive at the end of the day.
People along the trail we for the most part very friendly. However, the closer we got to DC, the kindness sorta disappeared. Do not take life too seriously that you miss the true meaning of life.
One place I will not spend the night at again is the campground at Ohiopyle. The campground was very nice and the people running it were very nice, but the so called quarter mile uphill climb after a long day of biking was almost a killer. I would rather bike ten more miles to the next campground.
If I do any other trips like this I will have Sherry follow me in the RV so I have a comfortable place to sleep. The tent camping in the high heat and humidity sucked.
At the end of a long day, you do not know how much a cold soda means to you until you cannot first d one. Thanks to the family that gave us a couple of sodas one day when the machine would not work.
When focused on getting somewhere, do not forget to take the time to enjoy the journey.
Friday, August 20, 2010
We biked down the trail about twelve miles and came upon Great Falls area. We stopped and grabbed a bagel to eat. Still hotter and just as humid. After looking around a little we continued on. The trail as a lot better without all the mud. My knees were beginning to get sore but the end was in sight. For the last five miles there was a blacktop path that ran parallel to the canal path. This was nice.
We followed this trail right into DC. What a great sight to make a turn and see our destination in sight. After asking directions from several people we found the Lincoln Memorial. From there the Washington Monument was our final destination.
What a great day/trip this was.
In a few days I will post some additional comments about the trip. I will also try to get pictures put out so you can review them. Sorry I was not able to do while on my trip.
PS. I have not given up on the cross country trip yet.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
We arrived at Harper's Ferry and locked our bikes up and walked across a bridge to a really neat town. The buildings still look lie the original ones from way back. Definitely recommend this place if you get a chance. We ate lunch then walked around for a while.
Then it was time to hit the trail again. Today's trail was a mix ora good solid trail with a lot of mud holes thrown in. He mud really took its toll on us. Took a lot more energy than we expected. We wanted to get within sixteen miles of DC but we were running out of daylight and energy. Guess we have a longer ride tomorrow. Supposedly the trail gets better as we get closer to DC.
Tonight we are sharing our campsite with a gentleman from the Air Force just getting away for a few days.
I am pretty tired so I am gong to end this now. Hope everyone has a great Friday and a wonderful weekend. Maybe I will go camping this weekend.
Zach, I could have used your dirt bike today.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
We all broke camp and started our ride for the day. Just down the trail we ran into a six mile detour over some hilly country roads. Not much fun. Had to walk the bike up several hills. During this detour our new friend damaged his pedal don't some hard pedaling. After several miles on the trail his pedal was getting really bad. He told us to go on despite our unwillingness to leave him on list own. We worked out a plan of action and headed on our way. So happens about a hundred yards up the trail we saw someone loading several bikes into a truck so Mike and I headed over the canal to see if he had any suggestions for helping our broken down friends. So happened he use to run a bike shop from that location and found a new set of pedals that fit his bike. What a stroke of luck.
We then continued down he trail towards Shepardstown. Our plans were to stop here for the day and get a hotel with pol and hot tub to mend our aching and tired bodies. Our friend contnud down the trail.
We crossed a very big bridge into this small college town. We eventually found our hotel of choice, Clarion and checked in for the day. This is a very nice place and we got a great rate. We showered and had lunch in their tavern. Yum yum.
We then headed to the hot tub. By this time it had been raining quite a while and had not stopped. A great day to be off the trail. The hot tub hit the spot. Now I am doing the blog while laying in the bed almost falling asleep.
We have a slight change of plans. We are going to complete our trip on Friday instead of Saturday. This means we have seventy more miles and two days to complete them. We are hoping that the severe rain that hit the DC area this morning did not mess up the trail too bad. That could make traveling rough if it is full of mud. Time shall tell.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
The first three miles or so was back on the bumpy canal trail. Then we cut over to the Western Maryland Rail Trail which was twenty Tao miles of asphalt trail. What a great treat his was. We took his trail into Hancock where we ate lunch at Weavers. Great food and a haven for bicyclist.
After lunch we stopped by the bike shop where I met some workcampers. Great stories they told.
Then onto the trail for the remainder of the paved trail then back onto the canal path. We traveled twenty five more miles to our current canal campground. Another hot and stisky night in the woods with the trumpeting crickets.
Today we traveled close to fifty miles. Our longest day yet. Nice campsite and we do have a single fellow that just pulled up and is making this his stopping point for the evening also.
Lets hope it cools down tonight. I am thinking it might a little.
First we had to go through the over 3000 foot Paw Paw tunnel. We walked he bikes rhrogh this one. These was only a narrow path without lights. We had to us our flashlights on this one. Boy did it get hot in there also. We then started counting down the miles to the campground. Guess what? It was again up a steep hill. But we made it.
The office/store was air conditioned. YES!!! We set up camp then showered and headed for he store to buy some real food. Hot dogs, chips and beer. Heated the bad boys up in the microwave and chowed down.
We then spent the rest of the afternoon at the pool. Met some neat folks from New Jersey. They had a three year old not that I made best friends with. Hi Zeth.
This couple invited us over for dinner. What wonderful people you meet while camping. Thanks so much guys for your gracious hospitality. You will never know how much we appreciated that invitation. Especially Mike. Me too.
Then off to bed we went. Tired but rested.
We arrived in Cumberland without much pedaling at all. Nice!! Looked around the train depot a little while, called some loved ones and the headed for something to eat.
After lunch we stopped at a bike shop and then hit the trail. The trail was not as nice as the GAP bet it was not bad. A lot of grass growing in the middle of the trail and sometimes we saw quite a few potholes. I think we traveled close to forty miles. Found one of the free campsites along the canal and pitched a ten, ate dinner and then off to bed.
The night air was really humid and wide not allow for much comfortable sleep.
The sights along the canal very from a dry ditch with trees growing in it to some occasional clean water to occasional water with green scum. Many of the locks and blockhouses still exist which is neat to see.
Today started out great and ended with a couple of very tired and sore bikers.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Today we got started around ten. We had a twenty mile uphill climb to the Eastern Continental Divide. The weather was really overcast and a lot cooler. Long sleeves would have felt good. As we climbed further into the mountains we were really beginning to feel the effects of four days of uphill pedaling. Mike was a real trooper though. He held onto the rope as I pulled him up the hill. Ha Ha
We passed by Meyesdale and stopped by the historical center there. This was interesting. Talked to a gentleman that said we only had about eight more miles of fairly flat pedaling. That was crap. I am beginning to belie e that just about everyone we talk to on the trail has a way of keeping you motivated by not telling the exact truth. We eventually made the Eastern Continental Divide and were very ecstatic. From that point on until we got off the trail at Frostburg we had very little pedaling to do. Yea!! Along the way we passed through The Big Savage Tunnel. Over 3900 feet of tunnel. This tunnel was lighted. Then came Thank Borden Tunnel which was of lighted. Riding through this tunnel without lights and only able to see the ground in front of you and at the end really began to freak me out. Talk about tunnel vision, now I know what that means. Whew.
As we continued our downhill descent we looked for a den of rattlesnakes that were reported to be nesting by the trail. No luck. Maybe that is good.
When we got off the trail at Frostburg we had another big uphill to get into town. Yuck.
Finally made it to hotel and got food and now relaxing.
Only inconvenience today was that Mike had a flat tire about six miles from the start.
We had an interesting meeting with a group of three brothers that we saw back in Ohiopyle. As we were taking pics at the top of the mountain the three of them came biking up again. One says 'hey is that the Guy from the campground'. Then this evening we see them three more Tim's and they are staying at the same hotel. Neat!!
Friday, August 13, 2010
We had to descend the mountain that we climbed last night - total elevation change of 464 feet. No wonder I slept so good last night.
We traveled about ten miles to Confluence and had lunch at the Rivers Edge Bed and Breakfast Cafe. Great food. From there we visited the local bike shop and I bought some padded shorts. Great investment.
Then off for nineteen miles of uphill pedaling. We made it to Rockwood about 5 ish. We checked in at the Main Street Hostel, a really nice place. We immediately order some subs and finished them off without a problem. Doing some laundry and hanging out the rest of the evening.
Have a great evening.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
We stopped at a bike shop right on the trail in town. We went inside to look around. The owner was very nice and gave us suggestions on places to eat. We decided on Pizza Louie's. Highly recommended. The bike shop, Bikes Unlimited, allowed us to use a table and chairs to sit and eat our pizza. THANK YOU.
We then left for Ohiopyle. This would be the second twenty mile trek for the day. This trek continued to take us along the river where we saw tons of white water rafters. This part of the trail was a little rockier than what we were use to.
When then came to the sign that pointed us uphill to tonight's campground. The sign said a quarter mile. It was more like a half mile of steep gravel grade. Those was worse than the sleeping conditions from the previous night. VERY BAD!!! Who put the campground on top of this mountain???
We finally made it to the top just as it began to sprinkle. We immediately headed to the ranger station to get a camping space. While there it began to pour. Fortunately we got our bikes under shelter and waited out the storm. The clerks were very nice and invited us inside to buoy the air conditioned room. It was here where I figured out my blogging problem.
We set up camp and headed for a much needed shower. Our motivation for the day. Came back to camp and cooked dinner, called our loved ones at home, asked for and received a couple of soft drinks from a nice family and now blogging our adventure.
Now it is time for some much needed sleep.
miles were a bit iffy. So much for the less than one percent grade. Once we hit the the regular trail we did real good.
We met a couple and a child from England that came from DC and will return back to Cumberland. That is over 400 miles. The girl was only seven and she was doing great. We also met a gentleman from the Czech Republic who now lives in Pittsburgh and he gave us a lot of pointers.
We finally stopped at Cedar Creek Campground after putting in over twenty miles.
Wee found a lean to and pitched our tents inside it since there was a chance of rain. Kind of a good decision. It did rain but there was no air circulation. We coned Spanish rice for dinner and then soon after called it a night.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Then for desert they brought out a cake with nuts all over it. They said it should remind me of myself. Huh? Nuts for doing this.
Thanks gang for being there.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
I really am excited about getting this started. I am all packed and did a little test run with the bags on the bike the other night. Realized I needed to make some adjustments to my carry ons!!! Opted to forego the large sleeping bag for a snuggi(AS SEEN ON TV). Hope this is enough to keep me warm at night. A bit more compact without spending large bucks on a nice sleeping bag. Let's see how this works. Will keep you updated.
I also eliminated some cooking fuel and a skillet. Figure one canister will get us there. If not they should be available along the trail. Also removed a few items of clothing and toiletries. Every little bit helps so I hope they know what they are saying when people say that. HA HA
Took my bike to work today so Mike would have it on the van tomorrow when we get to his house to leave for the trip. Mike said my tires have cracks in them. Now this does not sound good. I am taking my two extra tires with me. They are wider than what I have on the bike right now so I am thinking they will come in handy during the second half of the trip. I am hoping the current ones hold up that long. Spare tubes, tire tools, air pump - I think I am ready.
I plan on posting pictures as soon as I have some to post. Tried one today and it worked but Mike made me take it off the blog. Bah Humbug!!
Well, time to get some good shut eye tonight. It will be around 11 nights before I get back in my comfy bed here at the house.
Until tomorrow, I am signing out and hoping for sweet dreams.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
The trip we are making from Pittsburgh to DC is aprox 330 miles. We are traveling on The Great Allegheny Passage from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, MD and then the C & O Canal from Cumberland to DC. Details about The GAP can be found at: www.gaptrail.org.
Right now are plans are to leave on the 11th of August, Wednesday. The original plan was to travel about thirty miles per day, a nice leisurely pace. We want to take in the sights along the way and maybe do a little geocaching also.
Right now the weather is calling for scattered showers for the first few days of the trip with temps in the low to mid 80's. This could change many times between now and then. From the looks of weather forecasts, once we get out of the mountains in Cmberland, the temps seem to get about seven to ten degrees warmer along the C &O Canal. At least it is all downhill from there. Ha Ha!!
I have some final packing that I need to get done this weekend. Hoping it does not add too much more weight to my bike.
I spent the last night at the campground for the next few weeks. I am sure that the camping being done in the next two weeks will not be quite as comfortable.
What did I sign up for? Time will only tell.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
That is a good question and at times I wonder the same thing. The closer I get the more I wonder.
Well it started out as a simple conversation back in January. My coworker, Mike, was telling me about a trip he was wanting to do. After explaining to me about this adventure I said, "That sounds interesting". One thing led to another and I was out shopping for a bike.
Now I am a week away from departure, and my question to myself is "Why?".
Do not get me wrong, I am actually pretty excited. The only concern I have is with my sleeping arrangements. I sure hope Big Bertha is comfortable.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Spent the evening packing my panniers(suit cases in my world). They weighed within a pound of each other. Have to add food yet so there might be a little rearranging once I figure out what food I need to take.
As far as food is being discussed, anyone have suggestions on what would be good to take which only requires water or less. I am not much of a cook so this should be easy. Hopefully, we will not have to do a lot of cooking. There are a lot of small towns that we can hopefully find a place to eat when needed. Our meals are primarily for when we get hungry and food is not real close.
Only other item that I need to locate is a sleeping bag. That should not be too hard. Yea, I might need to take a few tools also. Maybe I will let Mike carry those. LOL.
Sherry reminded me to take some TP. Whew!! And then there is the aspirin and ibuprofen. When will this ever end!!