Friday, August 7, 2009

Here We Go Again!!!

Yes, it's True!!
You would think being a year older and wiser, that this would not happen again, but......
Now that we finally managed to get Mr. Grizzly out of the slammer (don't ask, please wait for the book!), we're off on the road again. Got the bikes all polished, the Duckies fed and watered and the last trip memory faded just enough so that we are looking forward to this one!!

New trip begins Monday, June 15 2009.
We are starting 2009 with a 'warm up' 10-day trip. Last year our 4 day test ride took us to Hatteras with a one day break visiting some good ole friends or is it old good friends? This year we are taking new friends, still working on their names, suggestions?.....

(resting before their ride) and our mountain bikes on the Allegheny Trail; beginning in Georgetown heading to Pittsburgh and returning to D.C. Join us for our ride.

Monday - Georgetown DC to Shepardstown WV

And so it begins. Heading out on mountain bikes on dirt trails takes on a whole new level of biking. You don't have to get up before the crack of dawn to beat the traffic or sun, as the path is somewhat shaded, but........not so fast, you must endure.
Okay, here's our obligatory photo of the start.

start of c & o
The beginning of our ride, the C & O canal, is not new to us, we do this 80 mile loop (to Leesburg, VA) in the fall; usually with our Sunday morning bike crew, until they dwindled down to just the two of us. So this time our loop is to Pittsburgh and should be somewhere around 700 miles roundtrip (did I sign up for this?) Anyway, this is the first time with a camera. The C & O canal is beautiful!
c and o canal.JPG
For those of you in Panama, you should appreciate the first American locks along the C & O canal
not much has changed, just the size.
canal lock
The Great Falls area (just outside of DC) is spectacular;
great falls
nice rapids and a few minor waterfalls.
We did meet a couple of the Duckie's cousins, sisters, brothers, uncles (we are in West Virginia, afterall)
duckys friends.JPG
Our 'plan' was to bike 60 miles, which would have us staying in Harpers Ferry, which we understand is beautiful, but all we saw was the Potomac along the way.
Afterall, it's only 'less than 10 miles' to the next town. Fifteen miles later we get to Shepardstown, WV........did anyone mention that there was a 1/2 mile straight uphill at the end, NO. Luckily, at the end of the day we end up at a very nice and picturesque hotel, the Bavarian Inn.
Highly recommend for a romantic getaway; not so romantic after a 9 hour, 75 mile mountain bike ride. But the view for the room.....
Guess it's time to turn in!

Tuesday - Shepardstown WV to Hancock MD

Most of the C & O canal consists of tree lined tunnels

following the Potomac as it winds west. The tow path opened a few times to show us a little of civilization.....
........that grass filled ditch is what used to be the canal, before taking us back to see more creatures
than people. Just a normal day on a dirt trail, washouts
downed trees,
(we skipped the pictures of mud puddles) and a short rest
before making it into Hancock, 56 miles later. Tomorrow we climb, if the 'predicted' rain does not happen, so terrain and what there is to see should change (ie: be more interesting). See you then.

Wednesday - Hancock to Little Orleans MD

It's a Duckie kinda day!
Wet, rainy and cold (50's) with no chance of improving. But we couldn't possibly stay in a hotel room ALL day, so we took the duckies out and sloshed our way 15 miles up the muddy wet trail to the Little Orleans Lodge. And believe it or not, we saw more bikers today on the trail than we have seen in the last full days of biking. Raining too hard for pictures on the ride, until this evening when the sky cleared enough to see the view from Point Lookout on top of Town Hill, rated by National Geographic as one of this country's top 15 scenic views.

point lookout.JPG
Probably spectacular on a clear day.
Though the trail will be muddy, hoping to make it to Cumberland or Frostburg tomorrow.

Thursday - Little Orleans to Cumberland MD

Even though the skies we're clearing yesterday afternoon, by 9 pm we had thunder close enough to shake the house, and of course, RAIN. SO, which one of us was whining yesterday about being bored, not challenged??? Actually, we are both to blame. Got a sunny and early 8 am start after a fabulous homemade french toast and sausage breakfast from our host Steve. We took a short cut, far from cheating as we had a HUGE hill to climb to get to the trail. Yes, the trail was wet and muddy,

east of paw paw tunnel.JPG
but the sun was out and we were moving.........until I - yes Lori - got a flat tire nine miles out. We'll bore you with the details some other time, but had to turn around and bike back (on a flat tire) to our start to get repaired. Three hours from our start time we were finally making forward progress.
The rain did give us a few impromptu waterfalls
paw paw tunnel entrance
this one at the entrance to the Paw Paw tunnel, just beautiful.
Lot's of muddy miles later, we final come to the END of the C & O Canal......
end of c & o
did you have any idea that thing is 185 miles long! We put in 65 miles today, even though the distance point to point is 18 miles shorter. We start the Allegheny Trail tomorrow!!
NOTE: we are having photo import problems, sorry if photos and story do not match up.

Friday - Cumberland MD to Confluence PA

Our first day on the Allegheny Trail and we were really looking forward to a change of pace (and surface). This trail is part of the nationwide 'rails to trails', converting old rail tracks to cinder covered trails. We came across a few of these trails going cross country last year and their common theme seems to be 'well maintained and scenic'

cumberland ata
and most importantly no mud puddles!!
Our first 20 miles is an 1800 foot climb through three tunnels
allegheny trail in cumberland
over the Mason Dixon line
mason dixon line
past beautiful vistas
ata view
and over the Continental Divide.
continental divide
Though this time our climb was only to under 2400 feet.
elevation map
The remaining 40+ miles is just as beautiful with many streams
tunnels of trees
tunnel of tress
and entertaining way stations.
way station
We pull into Confluence after 63 miles, forgetting that it's a Friday night in a weekend destination town. Luckily, we were rescued by Bill (in front)
bill metzger
sitting with his heavy metal band (mouthful of gold, head full of silver and butt full of lead) who called all the places in town and found us a great place to stay. Turns out Bill is the one who has drawn the maps for the Allegheny Trail.
Quick Note: The pub where we had dinner had a bowl full of..............Duckies!!!!! Can you believe it, unfortunately, we didn't have our camera with us, but we are bringing a new baby home.

Saturday - Confluence PA to Connellsville PA

Our intent was to get an early start as we'd found a breakfast cafe that opened 6 am. But a heavy storm rolled in, in the middle of the night and it was still thundering through at 6 am. So we rolled over and waited (slept) out the rain. Confluence is a small town filled with very colorful and friendly people. If you are looking for a relaxed, peaceful and friendly getaway, check out Confluence; maybe even for a bike ride.
The ride between Confluence and Ohiopyle is beautiful

filled with streams and more waterfalls than you can count and certainly more than my photographer will take pictures of. Ohiopyle is an outdoor enthusiasts haven
filled with white water rafting, bike rentals, horseback riding, fabulous fishing, etc. cute lodges and beautiful flowers.
The Allegheny Trail is a beautiful ride along the river
allegheny trail
abundant with wildlife. After twice missing a sighting within minutes, we saw a black bear cub; so close we had to use our brakes to prevent bumping him. We debated stopping to get a photo, but thought the yet unseen mamma bear would not like that.
We'd planned to go further than our 35 miles today, but remember 'Slackin Zack' from our trip cross country last year?
slackin zack
Turns out he just moved to Connellsville (directly on the trail) this week, so we couldn't resist the opportunity to catch up.

Sunday - Connellsville PA to Pittsburgh PA

Today is a 'destination' ride. Our goal is to get to Pittsburgh, although the Allegheny Trail ends 15 miles short of the city. NOTE about the trail: once completed the Allegheny Trial will take riders all the way into the city of Pittsburgh via cinder paths through parks and forest (ie: no cars). Until that time they recommend you stop short of the city and NOT take the dangerous roads to Pittsburgh. Can you sense that maybe this wasn't going to happen?
We hoped an early 7:00 am departure would allow us the 'unknown' mileage factor of navigating roads and traffic into the city. By 10 am with 25 miles completed, we made it to West Newton for a much needed breakfast stop.

west newtown
Amazing what a couple cups of coffee and homemade pecan butter on waffles can do for your energy level.
Less than 20 miles to go before we run out of 'trail'. We are joined at this point by another couple, Ryan and Maria, biking the same route into the city. They've traveled from Sacramento to accomplish this bike and were delightful to talk with. Employing the 'safety in numbers' theory, the four of us fumbled through the last 20 miles through walking our bikes through rocky paths,
end of trail
and biking through city traffic.
A few miles from the city, a local biker picked up our path and led us through the safest route (relative term) into the city. We were rewarded with a great skyline view
ryan & maria, hot metal bridge, pitts
as we crossed the Hot Metal Bridge into Pittsburgh. It's a beautiful city that's been transformed from the depressed steel mill days to new buildings and clever refurbishing.
Tomorrow we will ride the Amtrack from Pittsburgh to DC and then drive home. Thanks for visiting us along the way.