Day 1 – Greenock to Connellsville
It seemed like a good idea at the time. Look at the lowest elevation change, and do the most miles on that day. So we decided to go from Greenock (my house) to Connellsville, a distance of 38 miles on Day 1. Also, we figured if this killed us, then it would be easy to bring our bodies home as we would be within 38 miles of home. I told Phil and Mark to get to my house at 10 AM so of course we didn’t leave until 11:30. This was not only because they were late. I told everyone to pump up their tires before we left as I have a super-cool Ryobi cordless air compressor with this neat-o digital gage on it and everything. Phil gladly availed himself, but Mark had some kind of space-age valves stems that defeated my inflator. Phil had some kind of hand pump that could be modified to fit these Martian valve stems. Until we lost a part to the pump. In hindsight, we should’ve let Mark ride on flat tires.
Anyway, away we went into the familiar (to me anyway) confines of the GAP trail from my house to Smithton where we stopped for lunch. Two miles out, we passed the Greenock bald eagle nest at a beautiful bend in the Yough, but alas, owing to the abundant foliage, no eagles to be seen. Then on to West Newton where Mark replaced Phil’s pump, and got has tires properly filled at the West Newton bike shop. Then it was off to Smithton for lunch at Dales.
Dale’s is pretty much a biker bar, and the food there is great. They had a nice outdoor deck where goofy looking bike-riding types could dine in full view of our bikes.
Smithton is the home of the Jones Brewing Company, proud brewers of Stoney’s beer. The heir to the Jones Brewing fortune is none other than Shirley Jones of Partridge Family and Music Man fame.
A few too many Stoney’s made the remaining 20 miles to Connellsville somewhat problematic. Of course Phil drank Blue Moon, so he was fine.
The trail here is pretty flat, although psychologically, you know that the river is going down, so we must be climbing up. The afternoon brought us to places like Whitsett and Dawson, which would not be out of place with Burt Reynolds in a canoe with banjoes playing. Rick was struggling the last 10 miles until we limped into the Comfort Inn which was conveniently right on the trail. A very comfortable place indeed. I got a room to myself since I was supposed to be bunking with my son-in-law Jason who went on injured reserve at the last minute. Flying solo was nice, but it would soon come back to bite me in the ass. The Comfort Inn was pricey, but had a nice spread for breakfast. This is something that we would also miss before long.
Dinner that night was a short walk across the Yough to O’Donnell’s. A fine establishment, and a short walk which tended to be the deciding factor in most of our dining choices.
So went the first day. A couple of important lessons. Drink more water. Lots of cramps in those last 10 miles. Three pints of beer at lunch is not water. Sadly, it would take me several more days to learn this lesson. The important thing was that we made it. The next most important thing would be that we would be able to continue the next day since it was all up-hill from here.
So on to Day 2!