Rode Confluence PA to Cumberland MD today. But first things first: Six Months Until Christmas!
My room at the River's Edge B&B was excellent and the windows overlooked the river, filling the room with the white noise of the water and I slept very soundly. I woke up, noshed at the continental breakfast, unlocked the bike shed and retrieved my bike, filled my bottles and headed out to meet the group for breakfast.
We had breakfast at Sister's Cafe, long a mainstay of Confluence bicyclists. The other bicyclists' B&B didn't offer breakfast, so I tried to avoid regaling them with the story of my excellent accomodations but I may have slipped. We have nine people in our group today and when you walk into a restaurant in any of these towns with nine people they're overwhelmed.
As soon as we sat down the skies opened in a heavy rain, and our desire to eat quickly was tempered by the realization that we could have a leisurely meal and get out on the trail after the rain cell passed through.
We had no rain for the rest of the day, although the area along our route did see quite a few strong storms.
Pedalling out of town we stopped at Sweetie's Bakery for biscotti and other treats to take along with us. The ride was good, there didn't seem to be any initial agony among the riders.
At the Pinkerton Horn we saw the progress on the daylighting of the newer Pinkerton Tunnel in conjunction with the introduction of double-height railroad standards. It's a massive project, moving a major peice of earth; engineering on a grand scale. We ate biscotti and marvelled at the modern world.
We continued to Rockwood, arriving before the bike shop was open. We made use of the cellphone hotspot at the trailside visitor's center, and took a break at the trailhead gazebo without detouring into town (preferring to dawdle in Meyersdale).
We continued climbing to Meyersdale, then descended into town for the GI Dayroom, which IMO is the best breakfast and lunch on the GAP and the C&O. Climbing out of Meyersdale is a bit daunting, but it was OK.
At Deal our PerkyMobile™ operators got out of the van to ride to the Continental Divide and descend to Cumberland, and I got into the van to take a rotation as the duty driver. As the party crossed the Borden Tunnel one of the rider's rear tires exploded and there was quite a bit of logistics involved in getting a new tire from Cumberland up the hill to a trailhead, then via bike to the location. So far, two out of three days we've had a real benefit from the support van.
We rode into town and treated ourselves to ice cream at Queen City Creamery. We checked into the hotel, the trailside Fairfield Inn and Suites, and had dinner at the Crabby Pig. That evening we used the hotel's laundry machines to refresh supplies for the second half of the trip.
The Fairfield Inn was an excellent hotel, it's my third time there this year, it's located right on the trail, got a bike washing station, very bike friendly, hot tub, laundry machines, great breakfast. Highly recommended.