Our final day on the GAP trail started like the others, trying to find someplace to eat breakfast. We rolled down the hill to Donges Drive In and Motel, where we had a hardy breakfast to get us (finally) to the top of the mountains and down the other side. There were lots of other bikers there as I think it is a popular stop to both stay and eat.
Now the trail from Meyersdale to the highest point on the GAP, the Eastern Continental Divide, is the steepest yet. But we knew that once we went over the top, it was 25 miles downhill into Cumberland. That is incentive right there.
We finally reached to top, and then the real fun began. The trail from the divide down to Frostburg, MD is the best of the whole trip. Not only are you flying downhill after 3 days of steady climbing, but you soon come to the Big Savage Tunnel, which is long, dark, and cold early in the morning.
Emerging from the tunnel, you sit on a shelf jutting from the ridge that looks out over the mountains. A beautiful sight indeed.
Continue rolling downward, you can pity the poor souls who are going the other way and pedaling up. This side of the divide is MUCH steeper than the other side. A couple miles further on, and you cross the Mason-Dixon Line into Maryland.
And then it was on to Frostburg. Now normally, we’d have followed our usual pattern and trekked up the steep-ass hill into the pleasant little collage town for lunch and beers, but two things stopped us; 1. the afore-mentioned steep ass hill, and 2. the lovely Denise having to wait in Cumberland while we had our leisurely lunch.
And then away we went, ever downward along the steam train tracks until we reached the railway station and Mile 0 which is the end of the GAP.
There we found the lovely Denise waiting for us (good think we didn’t stop for that beer in Frostburg). We put the bikes on the rack, and off we went.
So my first excursion down the length of the GAP was over. There were some valuable lessons learned:
- Go with people who happen to like, who travel at the same pace as you do., who like to take frequent rests like you do, who will stop for a few beers like you do, and who won’t give you a hard time for a momentary lapse in judgement concerning yeast rings.
- Carry a portable white noise machine of the brothers-in;law who insist, “I don’t snore”
- Book places to stay early. These tend to fill up in the tiny towns like Confluence and Meyersdale, especially on the weekends.
- Remember that a lot of places in rural PA may be closed on Sunday and it may be tough to find a meal
- Take the time to meet with your fellow travelers. Most have done this many times and are valuable sources of information.
- Have a lovely Denise waiting to drive you back home instead of having to spend another 4 days biking back
- Quit talking about doing it and do it.
- Oh, and wear padded biking pants.
Hope you enjoyed our little odyssey. We are talking now about riding the C&O Canal Towpath from Cumberland to DC. All of our wives told us to get lost.