An adventure to remember
On a recent Saturday morning, my husband, Roger, loaded his bicycle, spare tubes, tools, clothes and snack bars into a rental car and drove to Washington, D.C. He turned the car in, stayed overnight in a motel and started the next morning on a bike trip to Cumberland, Md., on the C&O Towpath Trail, camping along the way.
He carried everything he needed in four panniers on the bike, adding around 40 pounds of weight. That was his Big Adventure; mine started a week later when I drove with my bike to Cumberland to meet him. He locked up his camping gear in the car and I put my clothes and other necessities in the empty packs.
We started off the next morning going north on the GAP (Great Allegheny Passage), which has the distinction of being the longest continuous, non-motorized trail in the country. The first day was grueling as the trail ascended over 1,700 feet for 22 miles, until we reached the Eastern Continental Divide, after which the next 10 miles were a breeze.
Oh, and did I mention that it was around 90 degrees that day? At one point, I thought, what did I get myself into? But that thought vanished when we arrived at the Levi Deal Mansion, a bed and breakfast in Meyersdale, Pa., and were greeted by the gracious innkeepers and shown to our lovely room.
The rest of the ride was easy as we covered 31 miles the next day, then 28, and 27 on the last day. It rained on the third day so I got to use the new rain jacket I bought for the trip. We met a lot of wonderful, interesting people on this trip; the B&B proprietors, the other guests, and people we met on the trail who also have a love of adventure. We got recommendations for places to eat from other bikers, the history of the towns from the B&B proprietors and I even got a bread recipe from Jan at the Levi Deal Mansion.
The scenery along the way was breathtaking: mountains, rivers, farms, bridges, wind turbines, waterfalls, tunnels, deer, and one morning, the mist was rising off the Youghiogheny River and seemed to hang in the distant mountains. We even had to carry the packs and bikes around a tree that had fallen across the trail.
My husband rode over 300 miles on this trip, and I rode 120 miles. We are experienced bicyclists but this was our first trip traveling on the bikes, living out of the packs and exposed to the elements. It was definitely out of my comfort zone, but the total experience was very positive and one that I will remember for a long time – and I will do it again.
As I get older, I want to continue to challenge myself, mentally and physically, to experience new things and make new friends. This was the perfect trip to do that.