Greenock to Cumberland – A Four Day Odyssey
Leaving the great pandemic behind is going to take work. Things won’t just fall back into the same care-free ways without us taking some serious action. This bike trip was such a step for us. As you probably know, we live on the bike trail, The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) to be precise. Everyone hates us because we can ride out of our back yard and onto the trail. If you read The Hobbit, then you know that Bilbo always looked at the road in front of his hobbit hole as the same path that would take you to Mirkwood if you would let it. Ours will take you to Washington DC (which might be a worse place), and we see the intrepid bikers clad in spandex and with enough luggage to go to the moon and back going by each day from May to October.
Well we aren’t quite as ambitious as Bilbo or these cra-…ahem….avid cyclists. We dress in khaki shorts, our bikes don’t cost as much as our cars, and we take enough luggage to allow us to stay a few days in hotels and B&Bs and not smell too bad. And we talk, and talk, and talk about taking these long trips, but somehow they never seem to come off. The pandemic has given us the many opportunities, but we never took on a 125 mile trip. Until now.
The Brothers-in-Law head to Cumberland
To be fair, this trip was supposed to be a four man affair. My son-in-law, Jason, was worried that he wouldn’t be in shape for the grueling 7 mph pace being set by old men, so he actually trained for this, and injured his knee in the process. So it was left to my wife’s brother Mark, her sister’s husband Phil, and me to carry on. Three brothers of different mothers as it were. The GAP trail is daunting. it crosses the Allegheny Mountains and passes by the highest point in Pennsylvania, but we were ready.
The trip was divided into four segments with luxury accommodations over three nights. The idea was to leave in the morning, and ride 30-40 miles which was at about our limit. Phil and Mark might’ve been able to go further, but that was it for me.
The “Passage” part of the Great Allegheny Passage is the transvers of the Eastern Continental Divide. As continental divides go, it’s not up there with the Rockies, but for 3 middle aged guys, it was up there enough.
So as you can see, the GAP is like a sliding board in reverse, with a long climb over 3+ days followed by a nice drop from the divide to Cumberland. And yes, we could’ve started from Pittsburgh, but since I live directly on the trail, Greenock was as good a place as any to start. I have done most of the GAP in pieces; many of which have figured in previous posts, so if some of this is repeated, then too bad.
Our days were planned to go about as far as we thought we could go given that none of us are in shape or had trained for this at all. The days broke down like this:
Day 1 – Greenock to Connellsville – 38 miles
Day 2 – Connellsville to Confluence – 27 miles
Day 3 – Confluence to Meyersdale – 30 miles
Day 4 – Meyersdale to Cumberland – 32 miles
And of course there were several more miles from the usual amount of putzing around to get from the trail to and from where we were eating lunch each day, or staying each night. And since we were already pushing the envelop of what our bodies would take, we DID NOT camp out. Instead, we stayed at hotels or Air BnBs. We are not barbarians. The only other requirement was that we could find a place for lunch with decent bar food and decent beer on tap. Preferably Blue Moon as my brother-in-law Phil has a “condition”. For the most part we did ok, although the beer did take it’s toll on the afternoon rides.
My lovely wife Denise (she of mylifecookbook fame), was nice enough to drive to Cumberland and pick us up on Day 4.
We put all our stuff into saddle bags (which real bikers like to call “panniers” for some uppity reason). Enough clothes (we hoped) so that we wouldn’t have to have the windows down for poor Denise on the way home along with all our “old guy” meds.
In keeping with the “Daytripping” theme, I will chronicle each day in a separate post. You see that way I get more posts published. We were lucky to get some good weather, and we like each other reasonably well enough not to have resorted to gunplay. The links to the four days are shown above
Hope you enjoy our Biking out of the Pandemic – Riding the GAP. If it inspires you to take your own trip, then you’re just as big of fools as we are.
Go on to Day 1 to see the trip from Greenock to Connellsville.
Day Tripping with Rick on the GAP Trail