8/15/12 Jefferson City, PA to Ohiopyle, PA, located on the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail – 59 miles
Had a good night’s sleep and got off to a great start with breakfast at the Blue Flame Restaurant, which boasted a sign that said, “YOURE NEVER TOO OLD TO LEARN SOMETHING STUPID.” Actually, we almost missed breakfast at the Blue Flame, but that is another story for another time.
We had decided to ride 10 miles south to pick up the GAP trailhead at Buena Vista. That turned out to be one of the worst rides ever. Heavy traffic and more steep hills. Again, the roads were poorly marked and sometimes not marked at all. It was miserable. At one point, we had to get off the bikes and walk them back against the traffic on the shoulder for about 100 yards to get on the road we missed because there was no sign. Finally, after winding around and up hill for what seemed forever, we reached the GAP trailhead at Buena Vista.
For the next 49 miles or so, it was the most wonderful biking you could imagine. The trail runs alongside the Youghiogheny river . Across the river running parallel to the GAP trail is a railroad. So, you have the river and railroad more or less riding with you. Frequently, you will hear the railroad whistle blast. It has a very “throaty” tone and I loved hearing it. I kept looking for just the right spot to get a picture of the trail, river and railroad. There was an assortment of riding through the trees and high above the river interspersed with wider open spaces. There is no way to get bored, as the scenery was constantly changing. After about 20 miles, we stopped to take a break and have some snacks on the banks of the river.
As we continued riding, we greeted many other bikers on the trail, including numerous families with children and couples on overnight trips. It was fun. There were some stunning views and impressive bridges. As we were leaving the spot of one of the most stunning views of the day, these two bikers came up from the other direction on bikes with panniers – not loaded as much as us, but clearly on more than a day trip. They looked to be two guys in their early to mid-twenties. Randy greeted them and, noting their loaded bikes, asked where they were coming from. The guy in the lead responded very proudly that they had started in Washington DC 3 days ago and were riding all the way to Pittsburgh. He then more or less walked right by Randy and strutted to the viewpoint, obviously very impressed with himself. Which is fine, because that is a pretty good accomplishment. However, he didn’t even bother to ask us where we had been or where we were going to. Just sort of blew the “old folks” off. Randy and I got on the bikes and started back down the trail. We started laughing as Randy said, “I know exactly what you are thinking…” I think it was at that moment that I realized I have become a “bike touring snob.” What’s a little 2-3 day trip on the easy bike trail when you have gone almost 4000 miles traversing the country in all sorts of conditions. Those guys were clueless. I can now boast to almost any biker I meet that I have probably outdone any ride they have done. My competitive nature in full force… Okay, so now that I have owned it, I will need to work on de-snobbing and a return to a more humble attitude. Because, if I haven’t learned anything else during this trip, it is how quickly you can be humbled at the very point where you are full of yourself.
We decided to stop for the night at Ohiopyle, a quaint little town located on the river itself, and apparently known for its rafting and kayaking. We settled in at the Ohiopyle Lodge, and walked around town. I did some laundry, then met Randy for dinner at a lovely cafe next door that had vegetarian lasagna to die for.
By the way, I received an e-mail from McKinley and Patrice. Their revised ETA in Yorktown is Tuesday, August 20-21, and she expects to be in Washington DC around August 22-23. Randy also heard from Muhammed and Montimir (the “trashmaniacs”), and they are already in DC. Apparently after RAGBRAI they hoofed it straight to DC at 80 or so miles per day. They also opted out of camping at that point and started staying in motels. Randy and I laughed – M & M were never that far behind us in their “love” of camping. Randy also finally heard back from Andrew. He was somewhere in Kansas after spending a week in St Louis. We surmised that his girlfriend must have met him in St Louis. Sounds like he has also hooked up with some other folks along the way that he has been traveling with.