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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    633

    Great Allegheny Passage trip report

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    It took only five years for me to finally get around to this after first having the idea, but I rode the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) from Pittsburgh to Cumberland with a friend this past week, so here's (some of) my story...

    First, the packing was very much like my packing for the C&O, and I found it helpful to reread that and use the packing list I'd written up (in Excel) for that trip and to send it to my friend, who had never done a multi-day self-supported tour before.


    STATS


    I'm a slow rider and am having knee issues, so the pace was not fast overall.

    Day 1: miles 51.22, avg 8.9 MPH, time 5:43
    Day 2: miles 45.61, avg 8.9 MPH, time 5:08
    Day 3: miles 34.93, avg 8.1 MPH, time 4:16
    Day 4: miles 32.99, avg 11.0 MPH, time 2:59

    Overall speed was 9.1 MPH; total miles (slightly more than total of mileage listed above) was 165.13.


    ITINERARY


    The ride started at Point State Park on Monday (Mile 150), and finished at Mile 0 in Cumberland on Thursday.

    Day 1: Pittsburgh (Wyndham Grand Hotel) to Perryopolis (The Inn at Lenora's)
    Day 2: Perryopolis to Confluence (Paddler's Lane)
    Day 3: Confluence to Meyersdale (Morguen Toole)
    Day 4: Meyersdale to Cumberland (Fairfield Inn)


    BOTTOM LINE


    Worthwhile! Fun! And whatever other people say, the GAP is NOT without some hills (in first 20 miles), and is NOT shaded all, nor even most, of the way. I don't have the knees nor gears for hills -- even bitty ones are hard for me -- and I'd owe someone somewhere some substantial money for the Bad Words Jar if I hadn't kept all (well, most) (okay, some) of my swearing under my breath (because I didn't have the breath to say these out loud).


    SORDID AND OTHER DETAILS


    Sunday
    I picked up my friend's bike a few days before our departure. I'd had a new bike rack in my shed for a couple of years and finally brought it out, trying it first with just my bike as I rode earlier this month, and then with both bikes on it. Worked well, so had the bikes on that Sunday morning when I picked up my friend in Virginia (I live in Maryland) for the drive to Cumberland, where we would leave my car.

    A few miles later, we heard a horrible CLUNK from the back of my car; we both immediately looked at the bikes to make sure there were still two on the car, and though both were still there, they were not where I'd put them; they were suspiciously, frighteningly, terribly lower than they had been. Fortunately, there was an exit immediately by us (for the CIA), and I took the exit and, within view of the gates to the complex where the road widened to allow a shoulder, stopped the car. We tore out of our seats and stared at the mess hanging from the trunk of my car, trying to make sense of it, and then undid bungees (thank goodness we'd used them for extra measure!) and gingerly untangled and inspected the bikes. They were okay! Yay!

    The bike rack had simply collapsed; the mechanism to keep the folding rack open had been jostled -- just normal road bounce -- and the pins keeping it in place had worked their way loose, so BAM!

    So we took that rack off, I opened the trunk, and pulled out my trusty 11-year-old $20 bike rack, which has transported these plus an additional bike in the past. Yay! We loaded up and just about the time we were done, security showed up; we were about ready to mosey on anyway so off we went.

    The rest of the drive was uneventful; we got to Cumberland in plenty of time to check in at Cumberland Trail Connections, where we'd hired shuttle service to get us to Pittsburgh, have lunch, put the car where it needed to be... I had time to pick out a new handlebar bag, too.

    We had fun talking with Chris, our shuttle driver; once we got to Pittsburgh, it was check in, get dinner, walk around Point State Park to find where the trail ends, and enjoy the evening sky. Click image for larger version. 

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    Monday
    As Monday's travel was our longest mileage, at 48 miles on the trail itself, we wanted to try to leave by 7:30. We had breakfast at the hotel, which would have been uneventful if the bowl of oatmeal I'd been holding hadn't flipped out of my hand, dumping most of the oatmeal into a bowl of pecans (but fortunately missing the brown sugar, raisins, etc. also set out) and shattering the bowl into a bazillion pieces around me. Nothing like a little early morning mortification.

    We eventually got loaded up and out the door, biked down to the point, and then started our journey. Click image for larger version. 

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    Guess what? The trail is not very well marked in Pittsburgh! We had explicit directions (available online) which got us nicely to the Eliza Furnace Trail; the directions ended with "From there it's trail all and easy to follow." Ah, no. No, it isn't. But hey, it's an adventure, and so what if we saw a little more of Pittsburgh than we were expecting? We did eventually get on track, me swearing at the occasional hills on this supposedly flat trail under my breath (also out loud. I'll write the check in the morning.) and wondering where the tree-shaded trail I was expecting was.

    We stopped in Boston, and learned that some of the bikers we were seeing on the trail were part of a group of 300 (!); we got to talking to one guy who had a tear in a tire. I gave him a boot, which didn't seem to help, and as he wandered off to try to find a replacement tire, we started rolling again. We ran into him again later on -- he had indeed gotten a tire, so was squared away on that.

    Check-in at The Inn at Lenora's is supposed to be between 3 and 5 PM; I had said we'd be there at 5. And we would have been there early were it not for (guess what?!) the lovely knee-killing hills between the trail and Perryopolis. We followed the directions up but apparently missed something, so as we stood over our bikes on the side of the road looking at a map, a woman driving by in a white pickup truck stopped to ask if we were lost and needed help. Have I mentioned how wonderfully hospitable the people along the trail are? They are fabulous, and this was only one of many examples. She gave us directions (we were almost there!) so off we went. Lenora was on the wrap-around porch waiting for us -- we got there at 4:55 -- with freshly-baked chocolate chunk cookies and something cold to drink (gallons of water for me, thank you very much, some of which I poured over my boiling hot sweaty head).

    We locked our bikes to the porch and talked with Lenora while munching cookies (and possibly one of us surreptitiously dropping ice cubes down my, I mean, one's own back, and maybe front). After that, we checked in and checked out our lovely rooms, each with a different decor. Our dinner reservations -- at Lenora's -- were for 6:30, so that gave us time to move our stuff into our respective rooms and clean up. A tepid shower never felt so good!

    Dinner was fabulous. Exquisite food wonderfully prepared. The best cod I have ever had (I talked endlessly about this fish for two days). The portion being very generous, I couldn't finish it all so had it cold the next day on the trail, and I swear it was even better cold.

    I'd booked dinner at Lenora's figuring we deserved a little indulgence after our longest day on the trail, and boy, did we get it!! Wonderful wonderful wonderful!

    .... to be continued...
    Last edited by owlice; 06-28-2014 at 06:49 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Posts
    10,956
    Very exciting, looking forward to reading more! So glad your bikes were ok and that you had used the extra bungies! I had wanted to ride both this trail and the GAP so your report enables me to live vicariously through you, looking forward to hearing more! I am surprised to read that most of the trail isn't shaded, and glad you had such a great place to stay that first night! You certainly earned those cookies

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    633
    Thanks, Catrin! The cookies were delicious, and yes, I definitely felt I'd earned them!

    I just lost a long post and am now out of time; I'm quite annoyed that I lost what I'd just spent 30 minutes typing, and am sorry this will thus take even longer.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Steeler Country
    Posts
    5
    I'm glad to hear that your GAP experience was wonderful, and am enjoying your report from a local volunteer point of view. I can't imagine a rail trail that is completely flat, and am sorry you had heard that the GAP is flat. The flyovers and bridges in the early part of your trek had to be difficult for you and I hope you can recover. Looking forward to the rest of your report!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    633
    I have a lot of magnetic poetry words just inside my office door – the walls are metal – and keep a rotating selection of them outside my door for people to play with. Before I left to ride the GAP, I printed a page letting people at work know I was out and why and posted it by my door.

    And this is what I came back to:
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,465
    Quote Originally Posted by owlice View Post
    I have a lot of magnetic poetry words just inside my office door – the walls are metal – and keep a rotating selection of them outside my door for people to play with. Before I left to ride the GAP, I printed a page letting people at work know I was out and why and posted it by my door.

    And this is what I came back to:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Lovely!
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles

    Surly Krampus!

 

 

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