Leaving Meyersdale:The final 8 miles of climbing brought us to the Eastern Continental Divide. It was all downhill from this point – yay!
The Big Savage Tunnel, built in 1911, 3300 feet (2/3 mile) long.
About halfway through, it got foggy, the rider ahead disappeared at about 30 feet. Clear weather on the west side of the tunnel, fog on the east side.We felt a few sprinkles as we left Frostburg. With just 9 miles to go, we had to stop and put on rain covers.All our stuff stayed dry, but we were soaked and filthy from head to toe. But none of that mattered, we had arrived in Cumberland MD!As we ate lunch at the Crabby Pig, we realized how lucky we were to arrive when we did. There was a torrential downpour with thunder and lightning for about an hour. The bike shop let us use a hose to get most of the mud off the bikes and our legs. Then it was time to say goodbye to Donna, who had to drive home to Roanoke. This was Donna’s first multi-day bike tour and she had a great time. There will definitely be more bike tours in her future.
Miles = 33. Total miles = 161.
We were on the road at 6:30, it was going to be another hot humid day. The innkeeper packed us a traveling breakfast (because we refused to stay until 7 am when the kitchen officially opened). Six miles down the road at Dravo Cemetery, we took our first break and had a bite of food. The oldest grave dates back to the War of 1812. A Methodist church was built here in 1824, destroyed by fire in 1920, and never rebuilt. At about the halfway point, we stopped at Jeff’s house. He has a sign on the trail to attract riders and a refrigerator stocked with all kinds of goodies which operates on the honor system.Jeff first brought us, freshly picked from his garden, watermelon. Then cucumbers. Then picked 3 ears of corn and soon brought us hot, buttered, salted corn on the cob. Delicious!Further down the trail were old abandoned coke ovens.The arch into Connelsville was a welcome sight. We had 3 hours to kill before we could get into our B&B for the evening, so we hung out at a local park. It was hot, but better than riding and being even hotter.Once settled in and showered, we headed downstairs to Greenhouse Winery – a wine bar. After tasting a few samples, we bought a bottle and went back to the B&B patio to enjoy itbefore walking to the nearest restaurant for dinner.Miles = 41
We were up early, it was going to be hot. We sweet-talked Laverne who was in charge of setting up breakfast in the lobby if we might be able to get some hot food early. She fixed us 3 big plates and asked us to sit far away to avoid other guests making the same request. We were on the road by 7, riding through almost-deserted downtown city streets – beautiful. At one point, I heard some popping. Maybe someone hitting something with a hammer? Then I heard Billie shout for me to stop. She also heard the popping sound, turned to look, and saw flames coming out of an old electric panel box on a row house. We called 911, but the fire truck was already on its way.An exciting way to start the day!We rode toward Point State Park. Ahead, four (Pittsburgh Steelers) yellow bridges and the lights at PNC Park (Pittsburgh Pirates). Pittsburgh has more bridges than Venice Italy.Donna really needed to see Bicycle Heaven, but it only opened at 10 am. I was worried about how hot it was going to get, so I continued along the trail by myself while Billie and Donna went to Bicycle Heaven. I rode along the Monongahela River and crossed over the Hot Metal Bridge and a final view of Pittsburgh.On the other side was the actual beginning of the Great Allegheny Passage. The river was on my left and trains on my right. We crossed over the tracks a couple of times. Crossing the river, McKeesport ahead. But it’s so hot! Now the trail will follow the Youghiogheny (yock-uh-HAY-nee) River.Relief ahead! As I crossed the blue bridge into Boston PA, the first business I spotted was Trailside Treasures: cold drinks, ice cream, a lovely deck, and blessed shade. And the friendliest owners ever! Ralph and Barb.I sat there for four hours waiting for Billie and Donna. It was still hot, but at least I was off the bike. At last, there they were crossing the blue bridge. I knew their ride was longer and way hotter than mine.We sat and visited for another hour. As we were trying to figure out which nearby restaurant might deliver food to our lodging place, Ralph and Barb offered to go out, pick up 3 meals, and deliver them to us at about 6:30. That was so kind – they definitely fit into the Trail Angel category. Thank you Ralph and Barb!
Miles = 28
Most of the B&B-keepers depend on bicyclists, usually 50-75% of their summer income and many close up after the fall colors are done. Locked storage areas, hoses and bike rags are common (just don’t bring those bikes inside).
Our goal today is lunch in Ohiopyle, B&B in Confluence.
We were told this June has been the extremely wet, just 3 days with NO rain. For us, this meant an abundance of waterfalls. You could tell there was one to look for just by the sound.
We rode upstream along the Youghioghenny River – and how do you pronounce this word? The locals say, “YOCK-uh-hay-nee”.
As we crossed the bridge into Ohiopyle, we saw a large group of rafts readying to run the rapids.
The first raft was successful.
However, the next raft lost 2 passengers who had to swim to the raft and be pulled back aboard. One oar was never recovered. Billie, “And that is why I will never do a whitewater rafting trip.” The third raft made it through without losing anyone despite what it looks like.
The confluence of the Youghiogheny, Laurel Hill Creek, and Casselman Creek-hence the name of the town.
On the way to dinner, Billie pulled over to the side of the road because she recognized a bicyclist we’d met in Connellsville. At about 7 pm, Sharon was walking her bike and still 20 miles from her Rockwood destination.
They loaded Sharon and her bike in the van and drove to Rivers Edge Restaurant. (I walked the half mile so there was enough room.) Sharon had had about 3 flats that day and was WAY behind schedule. Billie and JD worked to fix the flat, then we all had dinner together.
Sharon, a retired school teacher and librarian from Oregon was riding Pittsburgh-Washington DC by herself on a rented bike. We were thrilled to become her Trail Angels – so many people have helped us in the past with our various bicycle touring difficulties, it felt good to pay it forward. After dinner, Billie and I drove her the final 20 miles to her B&B in Rockwood. (NOTE: in the following days, we learned there was a small piece of metal in the tire which caused continual flats, the bike rental company arranged to have the tire replaced and for the next transportation rescue so she could keep on schedule. Sharon arrived in Washington DC on July 6 and plans to do the same ride next year – with greater success and fewer flats.)