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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Overnight Bike Trip - S36O - Ohiopyle to Cumberland

Rode 75 miles in 7h15m (start-to-stop clock time), 5h23m (pedal-turning riding time).

Started at Ohiopyle at 1230. It's very crowded there in a summer Sunday afternoon, lots of people, lines for restrooms, etc. I couldn't find any obvious overnight parking so I used a relatively out of the way spot and left my car in it, hoping for the best.

The first leg to Confluence was crowded and congested, it was good to see all sorts of riders on all sorts of bikes. It was a mostly flat 11 miles to Confluence.

Confluence had a lot of people on bikes, mostly on the River's Edge - to - Town Square axis. The Confluence Cyclery (bike shop) offers free water, rest rooms, and an internet terminal, which is pretty cool.

Sidebar rant: I think that businesses that provide a sink or a faucet for free, and cool or bottled water for a fee, are supporting their customers and providing an ethical service. Businesses along a bike trail that only provide water for a fee are a bit too mercenary for me. When a place offers free water, I'll always leave a tip that exceeds what the same amount of bottled water would have cost, just to show that I appreciate their good will.

The cellphone coverage in Confluence is tremendously improved, another sign of the increased trail traffic affecting local conditions. Stopped at Sister's Cafe for a grilled ham-and-cheese sandwich (excellent). While I was in Confluence I kept an eye out for trail cartographer Bill Metzger, sort of like you'd keep an eye out for the Pope if you were touring the Vatican, but there was no Bill sighting.

The second leg to Rockwood saw the path pitch uphill a bit. It retrospect this may be the steepest segment of the admittedly friendly climb. Beautiful river views, I especially enjoy the ride around the Pinkerton Horn. I still saw other riders every five minutes or so. Entering the Rockwood trailhead there's a small "welcome" shack, and there's a low-power cellphone repeater under the eaves, which is very nice.

In Rockwood there's a trailside bike shop, I stopped in to check it out. They had a surprising amount of bike gear and water for sale (none for free). Rode into town for the Rockwood Opera House, had some ice cream and a Coke.

Departing Rockwood for Meyersdale the pitch seemed to level off. There was a downed tree across the path. Later I was very pleased to see two riders in the distance who turned out to be Pam and Bill Metzger, and it was a treat to get to spend a few minutes with them. They're both excellent people. Bill was riding his recumbent hand-crank bicycle, and Pam was riding a long-wheelbase recumbant, I think it was a Rans.

Saw the windmill farms and came upon the Salisbury Viaduct, wow wow wow what a view. It looks like the world was built to be seen from up there. The trail from the viaduct into Meyersdale is tremendously improved over the first time I was here. I decided to skip my stop in Meyersdale and press on to Frostburg, since at this late hour of the day my fave stop in Meyersdale (the GI Dayroom) would be closed.

Departing Meyersdale it was a nice climb to the Continental Divide followed by a wonderful descent. Rode through the (lighted) Savage Tunnel, the Mason-Dixon line, and the Borden Tunnel.

I was looking forward to stopping at Frostburg and marked one of the town's steeples above the treeline, but I missed the turn to the train station and ended up riding beyond the town. Since I'd skipped Meyersdale and now missed Frostburg, I ate a few powerbars and continued on to Cumberland.

This is the first time I've ridden the new trail between Frostburg and Cumberland, it's a very nice trail and the route into the city was car-free. I did lose my Droid's GPS signal on the east side of the Continental Divide, and I think a dedicated GPS with a twin-loop antenna would have done the job better.

There's a new hotel right on the trail in Cumberland, a Fairfield Marriott, it's a bit pricy but it is in a perfect location. They seem to grok the trail business, they had no objection to a bike in the room, and they even have a trailside bike washing station (a hose on a concrete pad, it could use an air pump, but it's a nice touch).

I got out of the shower at 8pm, just as the local restaurants close on a Sunday evening. I wound up eating at the world famous Queen City Creamery a few blocks away, which always has good food.

This was a really nice ride. The trail is in excellent condition, the bike did well (thanks to Ambridge Bike Shop on Friday), the weather was perfect, just good all around.

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