So I got into this cycling game last year with my Trek 1000 riding primarily on weekends. The like of cycling started turning into a love late last season and after a break for the Cleveland winter, it grew anew... So sometime this summer I thought of the bright idea of riding to H2o... Mostly for the experience of trying me first bike tour and partly cause I was sick of driving my stock Mk5 Jetta every year through georgous appalachia. So I trained all season, maintaining 200-300 miles a week and started planning the details.
I got the entire week off from the saturday before h2o to the Monday after. The place I stay at opens up on Wednesday afternoon giving me 4.5 days to make the journey... Which quickly cancelled out any hopes of making it from Cleveland so the starting point became Pittsburgh. The route would be the Great Allegheny Passage which would turn into the C & O in Cumberland and would take me to Washington D.C. At which point a buddy from Annapolis could shuttle me across the Bay Bridge leaving a century to Ocean City on the final day.
Around July, my best compadre since high school joined on board making the whole trip seem a little more make-able knowing there'd be somebody else there to go through the ups and downs of 420 miles in 5 days. So we both trained our asses off, even going so far as riding our local towpath hard for a couple days with our packed loaded with water bottles to simulate the weight of the tour cargo on a rough surface.
So we packed our gear and set off Saturday morning skipping the original parking spot in McKeesport cause it looked like a scooby-doo ghost town opting for West Newton instead. Leaving the car behind was a weird feeling but there was work to be done. The first day was all up hill in some rain. Luckily there was a nice hose in Ohiopyle that allowed us to clean off the bikes and our gear after the rain quit. We ended up in Meyersdale sleeping in a hostel under an old highs school. We met an amazing guy with Parkinson's riding across country from San Fran. There was also an old dude with a huge crucifix on his bike that seemed to pass us every time we stopped for food. It was Reilly tortoise vs. the hairs.
Day two saw us reaching the continental divide and the mason Dixon line as well as some of the most beautiful mountain top scenery that I've ever seen. After the long haul up to the divide, the 25 or so miles down was a frigg'n hoot. Got to Cumberland and stocked up on supplies and started the C&O. We heard many horror storied about that trail in our research but mos of those stories involved heat and rain... Both of which we thankfully did not experience. Quite the contrary, the C&O was rough in places and narrow in others but it treated us well and we reached C&O bicycle shop that night and stayed in their backyard hostel.... Hanging out with some biker dude who drove a beetle and was probably hiding from either a warrant or some kind of child support. Nice guy regardless.
Day three started easy enough and was a super solid day of riding. There was some amazing food in Williamsport-(little diner called the desert rose)- Shepeardston (blue moon cafe)- and eventually in Brunswick where we ate in an old church that served amazing sandwiches and Thirsty Dog Beer. We camped out at the Brunswick campground and got 30$ worth of firewood for 7$.
Day four started off ****ing cold but then we got to Whites Ferry and crossed over to Leesburgh and the whole thing seemed downhill at that point. We traded to taint punching trails of the C&O for the smooth paved trails of suburban DC. Leesburgh has an awesome diner named after the city(recommended by the local postman) and off we were for Mt. Vernon. This part of the ride was actually pretty boring although western DC has an amazing cycling infrastructure. I was I could have spent Some time cycling DC but alas there was a schedule to keep and we got to Mount Vernon at dusk. My old surf buddy chuck met us 4 miles from his truck on his mountain shredder and had Gatorade, tuna sandwiches with a banana-peanut butter-cinnamon bread desert waiting for us. It was ****ing perfect. He took us back to his place in Annapolis and we got a good hotel stay at Casa-del-Chuck.
All that was left was day 5. Chuck recommended we get up at 5 to get across the bay by 6 an we obliged... Dude knows his **** and has helped me on many missions... So after trading goodbyes, we set off on route 50. Now, there's a little breakfast diner just past Cambridge on rt. 50. If you're ever biking to O.C. Don't take the advice of the waitresses who tell you take the bypass past Salisbury. Hopefully that will be the last time I cycle a freeway like that. After some tense riding, we got back on 50-proper and anctiously peddled the remaining miles into Ocean City. The arriving VW carrivans passing us making for amazing motivation.
So we made it. An amazing journey and one I'd recommend to any one of you. I just typed all this on my phone so I'll load the pics tomorrow. I bet it seemed a bit wordy but figured some of yinz' guys would get a kick out of it.