Woke up to a great day for bicycling. Cumberland MD is, of course, the center of the DC-Pgh bike universe, as the distances given on the photo will attest.
DB departed our group off the front very early to make some mileage, he needed to get home. I had an early first breakfast at the hotel, took a nap, had second breakfast just before they closed down. We gathered ourselves and our gear downstairs and headed over to the trailside bike shop.
The bikeshop was very cool, a few charming and attention-addicted shop-dogs on patrol. My handlebar tape had exploded in the recent rainy riding and I asked them to retape the bars for me.
While we were wiating we had the pleasure of talking with Don, who is a Adventure Cycling tour guide (and who took the previous photo). We were discussing various approaches to group touring and specifically to getting on top of Mount Savage and he said, "each person has to find their own way up the mountain", which I am considering my Zen take-away from this adventure. Seriously. (Zen take-away from my previous trip: "we all choose what baggage we will carry")
I had a discussion with a cyclist who was convinced that a person can't ride any further than Homestead along the trail. I explained that people do it all the time, and that the "official line" was probably driven by insurance and liability. It'll be great when the whole she-bang is declared open.
With new bar-tape (see iconic Cumberland bike photo above) and full water bottles there was no further procrastination possible, so we began to ride up the Eastern Continental Divide. The last time I rode up this hill with panniers I popped at about MP12 (note that mileposts reset at Cumberland), so this time I proactively stopped at MP5, 8, and 13 on my way up to Frostburg at MP16. Although it was slow, it was a steady and enjoyable ride.
In Frostburg I stopped at the Trail Inn for a cheeseburger and was surprised to see a "for sale" sign. Rejoined QR and CA at the entrance to the Brush Tunnel, then we continued to the Savage Tunnel and the Eastern Continental Divide.
Riding beyond the Divide, with a small but definitive declination, was a pleasure. I felt like I'd been paying for this descent over the previous four days and now it was time to enjoy it. Stopped at Meyersdale, found the visitor center closed, and we decided to skip the town.
A word about Meyersdale: I really want to like the town. I've stayed in two of the motels and the hostel; I love to eat at the GI Dayroom, I think it's the best food on the GAP. But outside of the GI Dayroom, there's really nothing on the main drag to justify climbing back up that hill. The last two times I've been there, I've skipped the town because there's nothing there.
Saw the breathtaking Salisbury Viaduct, saw the windmills, and rode to Rockwood. We planned on staying at the Husky Haven Campground. QR and CA camped at Husky Haven and ate Thai food, and I stayed at the Hostel on Main and had a calzone from the Rockwood Shoppes for dinner; we were all very satisfied with our choices.
This is a mural in Rockwood celebrating their railroad legacy and remembering trail advocate Maynard Semblower:
Today was a lot of work and a great day of riding.