Friday, May 30, 2014

GAP Trip Gallery 5 - Connellsville to Mckeesport

Day 3 was the big push, 30 miles, 45 miles and then a 60 miler to finish off the day. In my Dad's case I don't think he'd ever gone 60 and I had definitely not done 30+ three days in a row.  It isn't exaggeration to say that neither of us was positive we wouldn't be calling for vehicular assistance somewhere short of our goal.  But regardless of any hesitations we set off early after a fairly unsatisfying breakfast at 0700 on the nose.

Late afternoon on Day 2, upon our arrival to Connellsville we had a burst of the most gorgeous light.  This auto store was across the street from our B&B and got lit up perfectly.

The rail yard at Connellsville is awesome to check out, not the biggest we saw but very impressive, definitely something I don't know much about.

The Connellsville B&B, friendly host and a very comfortable 2 bed room.  They very kindly moved breakfast up to accommodate our 0700 departure time upon request.  Unfortunately the baked egg in bacon cup was not really edible and the coffee was just so-so.  Honestly, a good cup of coffee was hard to come by all three days!

Leaving Connellsville we picked up an older set of mileposts that was descending in number, it seemed about 3 miles shorter than the official GAP signage but its amazing the psychological impact of the descending count.  Dad and I both relished seeing the triangular, weathered markers and continued to find the seemingly random spacing between them and the GAP markers amusing all day long.

Mile 50 felt good,  the 'countdown' to Pittsburgh started to feel more real here.  The Saluki as ever looked and rode well.

If you are an Eagle Scout candidate in these parts you build these shelters... Honestly they are fine work and we saw a dozen or more of them.  Well done to the local BSA and it's Eagle Scouts.  

The scenery was neither dominated by wildflowers nor were they ever absent. We saw some really nice flowers and I didn't stop to take pictures of many of them but these did catch my eye at a rest stop.

Ever since Confluence we followed the Youghiogheny River, wider and less wild than the Casselman and stained brown with the tremendous run off.  The clouds here looked cool on the water and dead center you can just see a yard debris fire smoking up through the tree, we had passed that yard minutes previously.  I loved following the river!

Catch up on shot's of me... I finally handed off the camera to my Dad for some mid ride shots.  I really do look like a gorilla riding a toy bike in this one!

Mile 24, the Saluki and I are doing fine. Despite the sun it was quite cold, in the 40's when we left.

Temperature see-sawed all over the place and we eventually got poured on which added some wardrobe challenges.  My short sleeves and rolled up pants look didn't last much longer than this point.  The wide and wooded t rail was a the last we would see of this kind of nature for the trip.  You really do get the feeling of leaving the Mountains as you ride north on the GAP.

Entering civilization...  the descent into Mckeesport (descent is to strong) included some taste of pavement. This kind of mixed urban cycling dominated the rest of the day. I think I'd prefer to leave civilization heading towards the Mountains given my choice now.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

GAP Trip Gallery 4 - Confluence to Connellsville *BEST Scenery*

How lucky are we to have the best scenery coincide with the best weather of the trip!?!  This segment, accomplished on our second day was truly memorable and if I made another GAP trip I would concentrate on doing an out and back in this area, somewhere between Connellsville and Rockwood.  Really, really gorgeous country!

THE Confluence,  the Casselman (left) joins the Youghiogheny (right), you see all the churn from the Casselman that we'd followed out of the mountains meeting with the (up till now) placid Yough.

Probably my favorite micro-segment of the trail... rock face, wide-flat-dry trail, surrounded by Rhododendrons and Poplars.  I particularly liked all the Rhododendron's throughout the trip.  The poplar's grow eerily straight and tall.

Does this really need a caption...?

Standing tall in the woods

Ohiopyle Bridge... Rushing river.  You will see cyclist passing through on the bridge. Ohiopyle was fairly bustling with activity and we had a good meal and enjoyed a nice long break.

You get a great view of just how high the river was based on this shot.

A local who was with me at the overlook for the Ohiopyle falls said that he hadn't seen the falls like this ever before.  They usually have around a 20' drop but not today... the river was FULL

Construction has the best overlook closed right now so it was tough to get the grandeur of the river at the falls, but note the small red shirted person on the middle left rock for scale.

Back on the road, crossing the Yough River


Does it get any better than this?!?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

GAP Trip Gallery 3 - Rockwood to Confluence

Day two was the best for views and pretty much the most enjoyable overall. We both woke up refreshed and ready to hit the trail after a very nice night at the Husky Haven Guesthouse.  I highly recommend that place for anyone looking for a roof in Rockwood, their campground also looked amazing with plentiful split and stacked dry firewood at each campsite.

Our ride took us through the most scenic portions of the GAP and we were dazzled by the power of the Casselman River throughout the day as it was severely swollen with the storm water from the night and day before.  

The Rockwood Mill Shoppes and Opera House... try riding through any town within 20 miles and not seeing an advertisement for this place! We ate lunch, dinner and and attempted breakfast here during our stay at Rockwood.  In general it is a wonderful pit stop for the hungry cyclist.  The main floor has a front cafe that has a menu including sandwiches, breakfast, coffee and icecream and there is a pizza parlor in the back where they are making the pie's from scratch.  The cafe up front appear to be run by volunteers...I hope they are volunteers because while nice enough they didn't seem all that familiar with making coffee, making a milkshake, or generally taking food orders.  We had a really nice lunch at the cafe though, you just need to bring some extra patience.  At breakfast we were ready to go so I got some drip coffee and my Dad settled for a cliff bar.

I also highly recommend a trip upstairs to the historic performing spaces and some museum exhibits. Cool old building and I'm glad that cyclists help keep the place going!

Banana secure... ready to roll!

We probably got more than our fair share of amazing trailside waterfalls due to the extreme storm that passed through the night before. I'd say the wonderful view's cancelled out the sometimes damp/squishy trail conditions (see next picture)

For Day Two this is about as bad as it got, which is to say, not bad at all.  The overall softness of the trail was noticeable and cost us about a mile per hour based on our day 1 and day 3 averages.

The closed off Pinkerton Tunnel, we are both going to contribute to the re-opening though I have to say the 1.5 mile detour path was a nice and 'wilder' looking ride through the forest that I thoroughly enjoyed.

close up of the southern barricade at the Pinkerton Tunnel

GNOME - not sure what that means but the Pinkerton High Bridge was another of many awesome crossings of the Casselman River. According to our hosts in Rockwood (Husky Haven Guesthouse) the river was up 8' over it's normal level which I beleive. It was roaring and mixed foamy and brown all day Friday and Saturday.

More examples of the trailside waterworks and some trail conditions.  We would go through stretches with 4 to 6 waterfalls in a row as we rode through.  Really cool!

Speaking of really cool, it was in the 40's when we left on Friday and didn't warm up beyond the upper 50's all day.  We had both packed appropriately however and just layered up and moved on.

There are many holes from a story telling perspective in my photo's and I'll have to keep this in mind in the future, particularly our accommodations seem mostly left out.  Oh well, We didn't take much advantage of Confluence as we were intent on reaching our destination of Connellsville but I did take the time to remove my camelback, the straps were really hurting my armpits and arm circulation.  The long surly junk straps served their purpose and my hobo-rig rolled along like this for the rest of the trip.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

GAP Trip Gallery 2 - The Mason Dixon Line - Rockwood

Photographically wrapping up Day 1 on the trail here with the days end at Rockwood, PA.  The Husky Haven Guesthouse was a wonderful place to wait out the tremendous deluge that we just barely missed. I can't stress enough how lucky we got with the rain. We rolled into the guesthouse literally as it started raining around 1PM local and it rained solid till 4AM.... sometimes it's better to be lucky!

Note the wind turbines up on the ridge, these were a constant companion for the first 10 or so miles out of Frostburg and as you get closer to them you can definitely hear and almost 'feel' the 'wush-wush-wush'.  The trail in MD was superb for the brief section we sampled.  This shot is very indicative of the trail for the whole portion, as we eased into PA it deteriorated a bit.

Trail with a view, looking down on MD.  Lots of clouds on day 1 but low 60's temperature and some humidity made for extremely pleasant riding conditions.

Gratuitous Saluki shot (non drive side - the dirty girl!)  

Big Savage Tunnel, all 3,294.6' of her.  A true marvel of engineering, this tunnel coupled with the many bridges, other tunnels and shear natural beauty makes the GAP a special ride.  The tunnels are so flat and smooth inside.  Really cool!

Dad about to enter Big Savage

B&M Cyo Premium light pattern from inside Big Savage... headlight wasn't really required due to the excellent overhead lighting as you can see.

High Point!  This cartoon is ludicrously not to scale or indicative of the actual slope leading up to the Continental Divide.

We didn't take enough of these as the trip progressed, but early on the first day we made time for the dual selfie at the Eastern Continental Divide.  (how do you like that white beanie!)

Eyes on PA... crossing the continental divide.

Fly fisherman who was not interested in my shouted greetings.

Crossing the Keystone Viaduct, one of two large 'ducts we crossed on Day 1.

The old trainstation at Meyersdale was a great pit stop and I'd have enjoyed a longer visit. They have an excellent museum and I was gratified to see a nice display celebrating the USS SOMERSET

My shots of the Salisbury Viaduct leave alot to be desired but this one at least gives a satisfying vanishing point.  This is a really long, really tall, really narrow pathway and riding a bike across it is COOL!

Back into the woods.  The overwhelming amount of green just felt great to me.

Shelter from the storm, the guesthouse at Husky Haven (alsoa  campground) came up just in time to keep us dry on Day 1. This little covered deck also kept our bikes dry throughout the 10+ hour storm!

Monday, May 19, 2014

GAP Trip Gallery 1 - Frostburg - The Mason Dixon Line

I'm going to keep these posts mostly photo galleries with wordy captions, then I'll do a wrap up post at the end to highlight some of my big take aways.  I can't recommend the GAP highly enough.  Plan to do this ride at some point in your life!

Trail Inn at Frostburg's GAP trailhead.  Dad is up on the second floor balcony.  There is a bar/restaraunt right of frame that was quite the local hotspot on a Thursday night.  We had a sandwhich there in the afternoon that was fine but nothing special.  In the evening the place was packed with locals but it had a very friendly vibe.

The Train Station at Frostburg that is the terminus of the scenic rail line coming from Cumberland.  The fog on Wednesday was worse than this for much of the day.

Early Father's Day present - SKS Longboard Fenders, custom installation trailside on Wednesday night. Boy were these things usefull on the trip. We had so much rain that there was plenty of slop out there.

Great building, a former monument carver's office and now a lovely Cafe.  My Thursday morning Americano set the trip off right from a caffiene perspective.

Dad's Trek ready to roll, fenders all tuned up and fully loaded down.  Aside from the fenders the Schwable 'Little Big Ben' tires and an adjustable stem were the only real upgrades made for the trip.  No mechanical issues to speak of during the trip, it performed admirably!

My packing left alot to be desired, still, I managed to cram Agatha (the Purple Saluki) and all my junk into the Elantra for the 2.5 hour drive to Frostburg.  I slowed us down a bit at the trailhead as I reassembled everything, my front fender had become bent in transit and needed adjustment.

Since the Saluki was in my trunk I drove the half mile from Trails Inn to the trailhead while Dad biked.  Looking sharp in the visibility red jacket!

No we did not coordinate!  I promise.  Here we are at Mile 0 for us (15 for the GAP) setting off Thursday  morning.

Coffee cup view of the GAP... north bound!

Dad powering up the 8 miles of upward grade towards the Eastern Continental Divide.

The Bordon, first of several tunnels, not lit but 'only' about 900 feet long.  The preserved purpose of these tunnels, trestles, bridges and trails are an amazing part of the GAP trail.  The Borden tunnel was well paved and dead level.

Northern side of the Borden Tunnel

The Saluki at the Mason Dixon Line

First of many drive side glamour shots!  My packing was about as haphazard as my car transportation method, my Carradice longflap was bulging with mostly clothes but also spares and tools, under it on the Nitto R-14 are my flip flops and a ready spare CdIV tire.  Up forward my Riv Sackville Medium fits great as always in the Wald 137 basket. I also used a netting up there so I could stash my jacket and other random objects.  Agatha performed flawlessly, silent drivetrain, steady, predictable handling... no complaints.  I'd like to try the same kind of load in panniers sometime to compare and contrast the ride. 

Front and Center, Mason Dixon Line!