Day 2 – Connellsville to Confluence
After tackling our longest distance of 38 miles on Day 1, the worry was could we get ourselves back on our bikes the very next morning? Luckily, the second day was our shortest distance, 27 miles although it would be all up-hill. Fortunately, the GAP trail is a converted railway, so the grades are limited to less than 1%. The downside is that there are no diesel locomotives pulling us up.
Still, after a large breakfast at the Comfort Inn, we were ready for Day 2, and started the climb up Chestnut Ridge to Ohiopyle. The soreness in my muscles eased as we went higher into the hills. The contrast from the ride on Day 1 was apparent as everything was uphill. And there were pretty much no other bikers. We would pass the occasional mushroom hunters who unconvincingly would lie and tell us that the hadn’t found any. Finally, as we neared Ohiopyle, we started to see other non-mushroom seeking people, most of whom were gleefully riding downhill past us. We chuckled to ourselves that soon they would realize that the way back was UP.
This part of the ride was very pretty as you climb above the Yough river gorge which is home to some of the best whitewater rafting in PA. Little water falls cascade down at regular intervals. Finally as you approach the town, you come out onto a big trestle and cross the river which is a couple hundred feet below. Like a lot of towns along the GAP, Ohiopyle is an old railway station that they have restored. We were pretty happy with our morning ride and looked forward to lunch. Lunch was a two-part affair. First was on the east bank of the Yough in what looked like an old house that was called, cleverly enough, The Ohiopyle House Cafe.
Lunch, which was sandwiches and (Phil claims) one of the best soft-shelled crabs he’d ever had, along with the obligatory couple of beers. After all, we had flew up that hill and we owed ourselves a few. From across the river, we could see red umbrellas and a raucous crowd. We then went across the bridge to the Falls City Pub where we pounded down a couple more. Finally, it was back on the bikes for the short 12-mile stint to Confluence.
Now we had mistakenly figured that the trip up to Ohiopyle was to be the “Big Climb” of the day. Boy were we wrong. It turns out if you look at the elevation chart from Day 1, Ohiopyle was the bunny hill. We were going to be climbing for the next two and a half days until we reached the top of Pennsylvania. But Confluence was not too far off and we were still stoked from our climb up from Connellsville, so we got there in good shape, although after three (maybe four?) beers it was not as easy as it should’ve been. Confluence is a cool place where the Casselman river flows into the Yough. We pedaled across the Yough and into town finding that the AirBnB we booked was only a couple hundred yards away. This place was perfectly ok for our purposes. It had a roof over it and running water. There were two bedrooms, one with a queen and one with two twins. Me and Mark took the twins, leaving Phil to bask in solitude. As the other two called dibs on the single shower, I figured I’d do some exploring around town.
Right down the street from us was a really nice restaurant called the River’s Edge Cafe. The place looked pretty classy, so I took it upon myself to make reservations for 6 PM. Next I went looking for beer and maybe a grocery store where I could get some juice and donuts for breakfast. The only beer to be had was in this dive bar called Dodd’s Hotel. Next table buddies in Ohiopyle told us that the food there was pretty good. I bought the beer and left. I had a tougher time trying to find grocery store. The town is arranged around a square, and along one of the sides, I found Diamond Produce who was open amazingly enough, but had stuff on the shelves that had been there for quite some time. Like maybe from the 1960s. The had Sunny-D which I bought, and an assortment of Little Debbie cakes that looked to be well past their expiration data. I asked the owner if she might have any donuts and she eagerly fished out this rather ordinary box of a dozen glazed donuts from behind the counter. I bought the stuff, stashed it the saddle bags with the beer and went home to take my shower.
Well they were happy to see the beer. even had a small amount of enthusiasm for the Sunny-D. But as far as donuts went, well everyone is a critic I guess. For instead of “Glazed Donuts” the box actually contained “Glazed Yeast Rings” which looked an awful lot like donuts, but, alas, were just plain awful. Phil read the ingredients and found them to contain “Genetically Altered Yeast Strains” I’m guessing that these were rations for the post-apocalyptic world where they would be needed to stay edible forever. I bravely ate one, and Phil and Mark took bites but only to be able to heap more grief onto me for buying them.
So we ate a big dinner since we knew that there was really nothing good for breakfast. And Marky got to drink something other than beer as there was a full wine menu. We met up with some retirees who were at the next table who promptly told us they had biked twice the distance that we had that day. Sometimes I miss the pandemic when you couldn’t eat out. So we went back to our 2 room condo where I bunked in the twin bed opposite Mark who assured me “I don’t snore”. White noise on my iPad at max volume coupled with a long two days on the trail made it not an issue.
Tomorrow, Day 3, and we are off to Meyersdale.