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Monday, August 1, 2011

S36O (Sub 36-Hour Overnight Bike Trip) Cumberland MD to Ohiopyle PA

Short version: reversed course, regained car. 77 miles.

I departed Cumberland at 1150 and began the 24-mile climb to the top of the Continental Divide. In case that's not impressive, I'd like to emphasize the key phrase: Continental Divide

I took short stops at 5 miles, 9 miles, and at 16 miles where I found the train station and sandwich shop in Frostburg, MD. There's a hill between the trail and the train station with a very effective set of switchbacks, it was a little bit of a Tour Day France moment.

The climb, while sustained over many miles and a few hours, was not character-building. I did enjoy the vista at the south-east end of the (John) Savage Tunnel. While I was in the tunnel, and thought I had it to myself, I let loose a blast on my AirZounds horn; it made a magnificent sound that reverberated through the tunnel, prompting a young boy being hauled in a trailer to exclaim "Wow what was that?"

It rained pretty steady from the Continental Divide to the Meyersdale train station. I stopped in Meyersdale at 4pm to check the GI Dayroom, which had already closed. Next stop was the Java Cafe, which was also closed. I ended up eating at Subway. In a lot of situations, Subway and Sheetz are the supply chain for bike touring.

When I departed Meyersdale I decided to take advantage of the descent and attempt to get back to Ohiopyle without further delay, so I rode to Rockwood and stopped just long enough to use the cellphone repeater (which is awesome of the town to provide for riders). This is a photo of a sculpture at the Rockwood trail head, I like the way it suggests the dreams of the town having a bicycle focus, coming out of the railroad history:

Then I pressed on to Confluence. This is a nice ride (descending westbound), and I really enjoy the bridges across the rivers and the Pinkerton Horn detour. There's an intersection with Ursina Road that always prompts me to consider the presence of bears (ursina ~ bear) in the area. This morning in the Cumberland bike shop I saw a bicycle accessory I'd never heard of before: a "bear bell", which attaches to your handlebars and makes a persistent noise so you don't startle any bears. When you want to silence the bear bell, there's a small magnet you attach to the bell and it keeps the ringer from moving around. Cool design, major bike-geek attraction, but the "bear-and-bike" niche is too narrow for my needs.

Between Confluence and Ohiopyle the sun settled below the mountain ridges, and most of the riders had their headlights on. I got back to the car at 8:20 pm, pleased to find that it was still there and not towed away. There was a $5 mail-in ticket on the windshield for parking overnight in an unauthorized area, and I guess that's fair because that is, in act, what I intentionally did.

This was a very nice ride. It was novel to ride solo; usually I have the advantage of good company along. It's a different experience by yourself. Today's ride (on a Monday) has a lot less traffic on the trail and was much more of a solitary experience.

I departed Ohiopyle at 1230 Sunday, and returned to my car at 8:30 pm Sunday, so I think that makes this ride a S36O - sub-thirty-six-hour bicycle overnight.

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