Sat-Sun 4.11 #252
Intent on sleeping with my bike out of town, I started off from the Bastille at 2.30 on Saturday afternoon with the bike fully loaded, including a non-ironic baguette.
Stopped at Thick Bikes for an adaptable water bottle carrier, the Looney Bin from Arundel Bikes. Rode out to McKeesport, stopped in a convenience store: diet coke and pop-tarts. Increasingly I think PopTarts are the premier food of bike trails.
Rode to Boston. Continued to Dravos Cemetary, where I stopped for the night. Picked a campsite, said hello to semi-adjacent campers. There was a dozen boy scouts and their grownups who had biked out for a Friday-Saturday overnight. There was a husband-wife and two young children, maybe 6 and 4-years old, each riding their own bike. The A-shelter was occupied by some folks I'd seen there before, and on the lower level another campground was set up.
The Mother of the foursome asked me, Would I like a hot turkey-Rueben because they're packing up and have some leftover food? And I said Hecka-Yes-Please. Their daughter, Ella, cooked me up a sandwich in a folding-iron. Jason the Dad said, Do you have a cup or a container? Because I've got a bit of ale left over in my East End Brewing Company growler and I don't need to pedal it back. And I said: this is the best campground I ever rode into.
I had the Rueben and the Ale and was setting up my tent when one of the Scoutmasters came over: they had extra hot potato soup, do I have a container and would I care for some? Things just got better and better as I dunked the baguette in the hot soup. I watched a camper come out of the lower campground and recognized Reggie, who I first met a few weeks ago. He was camping with Liz and Milo the dog, and they're in a first-use test of a Tentsile tent.
Milo, shown on the right, wears booties in the tent. And socks, because the booties might chafe. Milo ran all the way down from the Boston Trailhead.
The TentsSile is is a lot like a hammock - the ground doesn't have to be level, dry, or smooth - but you sleep above the structure rather than below it. Reggie said it's a bit like sleeping on a trampoline. It's got a huge interior surface.
Had a small fire going. When it got dark I was in the sack early, maybe 9pm. It got cold. I had brought my small sleeping bag liner and not my big bulky sleeping bag, and that was a huge mistake. It became very cold and sleeping in the tent was near-impossible.
I ended up spending the night sitting by the fire. I was quite warm at the fire, but unable to sleep. I was able to sleep in the tent, but never for more than an hour because of the cold. The good news is: mega-kudos to the volunteers who maintain Dravos Cemetery campground, because there was a great supply of dry, split, help-yourself firewood. It kept me from needing to ride away for shelter.
Watched the sunrise sitting at the fire. Lots of birdsong. A few woodpeckers. Listened to the Scouts discuss the disposition of: a case of Pop-Tarts.
In first light, the dew on my tent had frozen. Cleaned up my gear. At 0730 it was warming up, the full sun was out in a clear sky, and I was able to lay down and sleep for about three hours.
Not bringing a real sleeping bag was a major blunder. I certainly brought everything else.
Woke up and packed up camp. Got on the trail at about 1130, heading for West Newton. Stopped at the Buena Vista trailside convenience store, lemonade and PopTarts. The conspiracy is persistent.
I didn't have a lot of energy and the bike felt much heavier than it did yesterday. Didn't get to West Newton until 2pm, which is 8 miles in 2.5 hours.
I've been told that the best breakfast in West Newton is the Chuck Wagon. At the trailhead there's a road across the bridge; ride across, go to the second light, turn right; 100 feet on the right. Really excellent chow, and an authentic local restaurant rather than a place that's just for visitors. Recommended.
I was done in. 25 miles to Connellsville, and it had taken me two hours to go eight miles; the math didn't fit into daylight. I put in a phone call for a mercy-extraction and my wife Karen came and picked me up. I don't know that I've ever felt so low on a bicycle before.
I weighed the bags when I got home: 81 pounds.