I know that that I have procrastinated terribly in posting the end of the Great Bicycling Adventure and I apologize. It is always more depressing to write about the end of a vacation than anything else. After all, it only took Mrs. RW and I 7 years to work out this vacation; who knows when the next one will be?
Anyway, I left the story of the Great Bicycle Adventure just outside Little Orleans, MD. When we woke up the next morning and finally coaxed our protesting bodies off of the ground, we got a little bit excited because today was to be our last day on the C & O Canal Trail. In Cumberland, MD is where we were to begin riding the GAP trail and by all accounts we’d be leaving the ruts and gravel behind and after a bit of a climb to the Eastern Continental Divide, it was all downhill from there!
It was perhaps the hottest day of our trip so far and seriously lacking in shade. We were deep in Western Maryland and it was quickly becoming obvious that absolutely no one lived there. The only town we passed was Oldtown. Oldtown is cleverly named because it is the oldest town in Maryland. Shocking, I know.
It was perhaps mid afternoon when we finally rolled into Cumberland. For most of the afternoon, Mrs. RW had been talking about taking the scenic train from Cumberland to Frostburg, which would apparently cut our climb to the Eastern Continental Divide in half. I have never ridden on a scenic train before and thought that it would add some zest to an otherwise boring day. Naturally, every time Mrs. RW brought up the train, I would reply that either we would arrive 10 minutes late for the last train, or that it would be broken down, or perhaps the Secret Service had confiscated it in the name of national security.
Cumberland seems like a neat town and the bicycle shop located right at the end of the trail is easily the nicest I’ve ever seen. We inquired about the scenic train and the bike shop guy told us that sadly the train doesn’t run on Wednesdays. This seemed like such a perfectly random reason for not being able to take the train that we immediately knew he was telling the truth.
Of course now we were faced with an 14 mile climb to Frostburg, which up until that second we were really looking forward to skipping. The bike shop guy told us that he was ferry us to Frostburg if we’d like and he’d even contact a friend of his who ran a motel/campground right on the GAP trail.
The van ride wasn’t very scenic, but it did the job and we thoroughly enjoyed the motel because it used to be a train station and the food was simple and delicious.
We spent the next two days on the GAP trail and while it wasn’t very exciting, it was MUCH smoother than the C & O Canal Trail and we made really good time. In fact my only complaint about the GAP trail is that after we passed the Eastern Continental Divide, the rest of the ride was supposed to be downhill. It wasn’t. According to the map we descended out of the mountains and we always seems to be following the Confluence River, but I am willing to swear on a stack of the religious texts of your choice that we did not coast downhill for more than 20 feet. I was seriously disappointed.
In any event, we finally decided to call it quits in Ohiopyle, PA. All together with detours, side trips, backtracking, etc. We rode about 300 miles in 6 days. For a couple of Freds with no training and towing a ridiculously heavy trailer, I think that it was a perfectly respectable distance.
Both Mrs. RW and I actually enjoyed the trip and would recommend it to anyone with a week or so to spend. You could probably do it faster if you planned on staying in hotels and packed more lightly, or you could do it in the same amount of time but not work anywhere nearly as hard. Either way, it’s a lot of fun.
For those of you who’ve been bored to tears with this tale of the Great Bicycling Adventure, be reassured that our regularly scheduled snark will commence shortly.