While life has not been overly kind to us in 2020, the weather surely has been. Never mind that my pepper plants lasted until November 18, the Indian Summer weather has been great for biking all through this pandemic. Today’s trip takes us to the highest elevations of Pennsylvania, and across the Mason-Dixon Line into Maryland. We had done this trip a couple times before, but today, we use our new electric bikes. What this means is that we enjoy the downhill trip south, then also enjoy the pedal-assisted ride back up!
The trip from Meyersdale to Frostburg is about 16 miles, and is one of the best parts of the Greater Allegheny Passage.
The Meyersdale trail head is a tribute to the rails-to-trails nature of the GAP. There is a beautifully restored train station that serves as a information stand, gift shop, and contains nice clean restrooms. Unfortunately, we were there late in the season, and it was closed. There is a convenient port-o-john which is exactly the same (without the “nice” and the “clean”).
So with cobalt-blue skies, we set out on our longest electric bike trip to-date. We decided to go north on the trail for a couple of miles to take in the Salisbury Viaduct. This bridge is over a quarter of a mile long and spans the Casselman River. The whole valley spreads out beneath you. My wife was scared to death. It didn’t help that the wind was blowing about 50 mph.
After a hasty trip back to Meyersdale, we were on our way to Frostburg
Just out of town there are some impressive old railway bridges. Not nearly as high and scary as the viaduct.
Crossing the Eastern Continental Divide
About 8 miles south of Meyersdale, the trail crosses the Eastern Continental Divide. To the south and east of this line, all rain and snow eventually makes it’s way back into the Atlantic Ocean via different streams and rivers. To the north and west, everything ends up in the Gulf of Mexico via the tributaries of the Mississippi. Of course the big continental divide follows the crest of the Rocky Mountains, and separates the Atlantic and Pacific watersheds. Still, as it wasn’t likely that we were going to encounter the Western Divide, this one would have to do.
Big Savage Tunnel
The trail follows the old Pennsylvania and Lake Erie Railway, and to avoid the steep mountain passes several tunnels were dug. The longest of these is the Big Savage Mountain Tunnel which stretches about a quarter of a mile beneath (oddly enough) Big Savage Mountain. The tunnel is equipped with overhead lighting, but was about 20 degF colder than the 50 degF day.
On the other side of the tunnel is a beautiful view of the Allegheny Mountains as they stretch southward. And lots of windmills line the ridges everywhere you look.
The Mason-Dixon Line
The GAP trail crosses from Pennsylvania into Maryland at the Mason-Dixon Line which runs West-to-East, forming the southern border of PA, and the northern border of MD. It was surveyed in the 1760s by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon to form the border between the southern slave states and the northern free states.
On to Frostburg
Just past the Maryland border a smaller tunnel, the Borden Tunnel is passed. While not as long as the Big Savage, it still can get pretty dark in the middle. The trail angels have installed motion sensing lights that are run from a big solar array. So as you ride through, lights come on and go out behind you.
We reached the Frostburg trailhead in about an hour and a half after leaving Meyersdale. Frostburg is the home of Frostburg State University, and is a very pleasant college town with bars and restaurants galore. We had been there on other occasions, but this time decided not to tempt fate with Covid..
So after a short rest, we got on our bikes for the pedal-assisted trip back up the hill. The stated range for the battery is about 40 miles, and as our trip was about 37, it was going to be close. We got back to Meyersdale with about 25% power left, but the trip back did eat up more power than the trip down.
Our Aventon ebikes are really great. We have taken them on several trips now, and they have allowed us to greatly expand our range. We have the Pace 500 models, which are perfect for our needs. Check them out here. They are a nice design and look to be very robust. And if you live in the Pittsburgh area, then go to Biketek in Squirrel Hill and ask for Frank. That’s where we got ours.
The trip back to Meyersdale was equally pleasant. We packed up the bikes and headed home, stopping for Chinese takeout at a place close to our house.
Sure hope you enjoyed our trip through the mountains on our new electric bikes.
God gives us these beautiful late fall days just for such purposes. Best not to waste them.