Type 2 Diabetic. Bike tour guide. #NextBurgh Flâneur.   Coffeeneur.    Errandoneur
A bike / map geek with a gadget obsession and a high-viz fetish. by Vannevar Bush       about       /       murals       /       Pgh-DC bike maps new

Monday, September 19, 2016

Allegheny County PA, Allegany County MD, Georgetown DC Bike Trip

9.14 Day1 Wed Pgh-Ohiopyle 81m
9.15 Day2 Thur Ohiopyle-Frostburg 58m
9.16 Day3 Fri Frostburg-Little Orleans 62m
9.17 Day4 Sat Little Orleans-Williamsport 41m
9.18 Day5 Sun Williamsport - White's Ferry/ Leesburg 67m
9.19 Day 6 Mon Leesburg- Georgetown DC - Herndon, VA 61m
Miles bicycled this trip: 370
mtd:494 ytd:2024
This week's adventure was escorting a family bike ride from Pittsburgh to DC - or more importantly, from Allegheny County PA (ie, Pittsburgh), to Allegany County MD (ie, Cumberland), thence to Georgetown, DC.

The trip takes on a County-level subtext because one of the riders is an elected official in Allegheny County - which has 1.2 million people, thank you for asking, rather dwarfing the County Seat (Pittsburgh) which has 300,000 people. You could look it up.

I see politicians at ribbon-cutting events. I have never seen a politician commit to riding a bike for 335 miles to encourage economic development before.

I have seen people start the Pgh-DC ride and DNF (that is, Did Not Finish) for a variety of reasons. I have never seen a public official announce his plan publicly and go out and try it while live-tweeting. I thought that was pretty leading-edge.

I'm not going to write much about my clients for this trip - for political people, public exposure is their livelihood, and I'm not sufficiently astute to be confident of causing no harm (The First Rule). There's official info here, and photos here.

Day1, Pittsburgh - Ohiopyle

This was a fine first day, although the mileage plan was more aggro than I'd recommend for casual cyclists on their first bike tour. Great weather, good surface, low winds. We stopped at a few places to meet local trail builders, some corporate people, some government people. We got a tour of the new McKeesport Hostel and it's a lot like the Rockwood Hostel (who advised McKeesport on the project).

Lunch in West Newton at the Trailside. Frozen Yogurt at New Haven Trailside Treats, adjacent to the bike shop. Pulled into Yough Plaza Motel a bit before sunset. Dinner at River City Cafe, which was really very good food in a no-pretention setting. We discussed the man-buns among the staffers, and I suggested one would do well in a Utilikilt, which I think was a surprise to my companions. (related, NSFW) I'd like to try a Utilikilt but in a different fabric, something like SilNylon instead of Carhardt barn-coat canvas.

I was a little surprised that the entire cohort made Ohiopyle. The Hero Of the Day was definitely Mrs.F, who had not planned on riding with us all day - but she was enjoying herself, so instead of riding the first ten miles and getting extracted from the trail, she rolled a little more, and a little more, and ended up riding 78 miles. No preparation - zilch; no gloves; wrong shoes; no complaining. I was amazed.

Day2, Ohiopyle - Frostburg

We were joined by some other folks for the first part of the ride. Breakfast at Ohiopyle Bakery was awesome. We departed on time. Stopped to go down to the river proper.

We stopped in Confluence for a confab with some local folks, which gave me the chance to scoot over to Bill Metzger's house to say hello.

We were fortunate to be joined by Linda Boxx for the Pinkerton Tunnel and Rockwood segments, which is kind of like going to Rome and getting a tour from both Michelangelo and the Pope. At Rockwood we encountered a couple of cyclists who planned their trip with Golden Triangle Bikes (my employer for this trip) and I had to take a picture of her kit.

She and her spouse are riding because: she got a bonus from her job in Denver, which is an amount of money. Recipients are required to spend their bonus on "fun". Can't take it in cash, can't buy a washing machine, has to be fun. So they're riding Allegheny County PA (Pittsburgh) to Allegany County MD (Cumberland) and it looked like they were having fun. In this County-level-themed ride, we began referring to this as the A-to-A ride.

Arrived Frostburg. I love Frostburg - university town, great restaurants, got their own NPR station. But it is a steep hill from the Trailhead to the Train Station, and another major climb from the Station to the Town. I think they'd really benefit from a shuttle-van w/trailer.

Dinner at Shift Frostburg, which was awesome - a bike-theme, localvore farm-to-table restaurant. Just amazingly good. For lodging the group stayed at Allegheny Trail House, which was mega-wonderful. A curious high-tech feature was: you order your breakfast, and choose your breakfast time, via a text-message App. Kind of unexpected in such a wonderful old house. Excellent bike parking in a secure room. Fast Wifi. Totally recommended.

The unexpected development was the presence of Mrs.F, who did not prepare for the trip and hadn't planned on joining us. She had a good first day, and chose to continue Day2 which she killed. Totally impressive.

Day3, Frostburg - Little Orleans

The ride out of Frostburg and the first 16 miles are downhill and it was a welcome change from the previous day. We did see a railroad crew installing a new-to-this facility at GAP MP009 - a refurbished Cumberland bus stop, re-purposed as a shelter at the temporary stopping place for the Western Md Scenic Railroad.

This year's interruption of WMSR service because of a mine-subsidence landslide is the type of thing that (IMO) continually points out the fragile nature of the GAP- it's one long peice of spaghetti, and if it gets cut off anywhere the whole network suffers. There's no funding source or insurance policy for natural disasters, and these things do happen.

Descending into Cumberland a group going opposite direction gave me a shout-out by name but I didn't recognize them so: hey! let me know if that was you!

Once we get out on the C&O I deliver my briefing - this is less forgiving than the GAP, you've got to pay attention. Physician, heal thyself! I caught a stick in my front wheel which crumpled my front fender all around my front fork. I was very pleasantly surprised, my client was eager to help with my mechanical issue - turns out, a CMU mechanical engineer who started his worklife in boiler rooms was happy to turn a wrench.

In Little Orleans we had dinner at Bill's, then shuttled up the mountain to Town Hill B&B.

Day 4 , Little Orleans - Williamsport

Totally awesome breakfast at Town Hill. Shuttled down the mountains, started on time in Little Orleans. This was a shorter day, 43-ish miles. Mrs.F was still killing it and by this time in the trip I'm becoming afraid of her, because I suspect that in her youth she was like a Spetsnaz commando because usually, no-prep riders don't last this long, let alone make it look smooth.

This is Charles Mill at MP88.1

We picked a few Paw-Paws on the trail, and the innkeeper at Elmwood Farm was able to tell us which were ripe.

Stayed in Elmwood Farm B&B which was like an 11. You call or text them two miles from the trailhead, and they're waiting to pick you up with a van and trailer. They wash your bikes. They wash your laundry. They give you tubes and beer. They drive you to dinner. This is an awesome B&B, run by a woman who's a retired pro-golfer and a cyclist herself. It's had a remarkable restoration including individual key-card access control for each room. Breakfast was awesome. Definitely recommend Elmwood Farm B&B.

Day 5, Williamport - Leesburg

This was the last long day, and it was hot and humid (as the DC area can be). Lots of Civil War history. Some riders made good use of the water pumps.

Saw a few blue herons, like this one:

This is one of the Snyder's Landing Caves at about MP75, near the Killiansburg Cave.

Also, I was pleased to see Barron's Ice Cream at 76.7 open on weekends.

Rode into Shepherdstown for lunch at Blue Moon Cafe, always a great stop. Saw Colleen and Cindy as we left town - always nice to see bike buds.

This limestone kiln is at about MP65.5:

At Harper's Ferry:

At the Catoctin Creek Aqueduct, the family met some cyclists they knew (riding opposite direction) from Bethel Park and Mt. Lebanon:

We rolled into Brunswick, Md, for our penultimate stop. As we entered Beans in the Belfry we encountered the local bluegrass-strings orchestra enjoying their Sunday practice session, which was the coolest thing ever.

Got off the C&O at White's Ferry, took the Ferry to Leesburg, stayed at a Leesburg Hotel. Had an excellent dinner at Del Rio. I am left convinced that Mrs.F is some kind of an assassin in the witness protection program, she's just killing this ride beyond all expectations. I think a rider like her is what the Adventure Cycling philosophy is all about; you don't tell anybody they can't do this, or that this won't work - you allow them the dignity of trying.

Day Six: Leesburg to Georgetown

We encountered two issues at Leesburg - the hotel couldn't provide a shuttle until 0930, and it was raining heavy. So we made a decision and took the paved W&OD Trail into DC (which, btw, is page 43 of my Trail Guide, available on Amazon.

We rode in heavy rain from Leesburg to Herndon, where we stopped for espresso and home-made Pop Tarts at Green Lizard Cycling, which is a bikeshop-slash-coffeeshop and does very well at both of those.

After GreenLizard we just kept rolling. We did stop at Whole Foods to use real bathrooms, and I think there's a law in DC that you can't pass a Whole Foods without stopping. At MP4 we turned onto the Custis Trail, and that has quite a bit of up-and-down work as the trail serpentines over I-66. Finally we made it to the Key Bridge, crossed and transitioned to the last bit of the C&O.

Achievement Unlocked

After the ride, I went back west to Green Lizard Cycling for my pickup home. This was a great ride with good people, and I really enjoyed getting to ride with them.

1 comment:

  1. That is a great writeup. Thanks. I hope you share more about your riding adventures.
    I'm particularly glad to hear Dollar Bill's is still around, though Bill himself has passed.