Friday, July 7, 2017

Day 4 2017

I crawl out to find the world enveloped in a deep foggy mist. And cool for end of June. The temp on the bike computer had a reading of 46 degrees. I was a slow mover this morning getting going. A little stiff from two good mileage days and then this cool morning.  I put on all the layers I had and got busy packing up and fixing myself some hot oatmeal for 1st breakfast. I wish I had my beanie but who in the world would think it would be needed for a late June east coast trip??? I warmed up by riding as the sun busted through and burned off the fog.
Today I had a bit of riding to get to the first town and a break for either 2nd breakfast or a snack. About 14 miles to Meyersdale. My riding this trip so far averaged about 8.5 MPH. I've never been a fast rider, grinder comes to mind when they talk of my riding. This trail had become a bit relentless with the uphill grade. Mind you, it was never steep, I could ride all day in my large chain ring, there was just never a change. the only flat spots were the bridges or viaducts. It got a bit monotonous with the same thing all day, slight upgrade in the trees. Not very many vistas that opened up. That's why I was excited about today. I had the famous Salisbury Viaduct and then the Eastern continental divide and then the longest tunnel and after that, about 22 miles of sweet downhill to get me to Cumberland and end of GAP and start of C&O.
Keep grinding to the start of the Salisbury viaduct!!
My goodness! This is the highest my bike has ever been off the real ground!!

103 feet off the ground, this was a feat of engineering. First train crossed in 1912. I was amazed throughout this whole trip the skill of the engineers and surveyors to carve these two lines,GAP and C&O out of raw wild country and build these transportation corridors. This is rough mountainous country and they followed the river valleys to build but then local conditions would change needing these viaducts engineered to continue the line.
I continued down the trail to Meyesdale for a meal stop. They had a little station depot and museum here.

Often a ride into a town meant a steep climb up a hill because the town was situated above the old RR track, or, a steep downhill drop into town with a climb to get back to the trail. Meyersdale is a cute little village.

Now it was time for the last push up to the divide. The countryside really changed here. The trail was away from any river and it was more of a rural farm look to the land. I like a shot of a nice looking barn!!
This bridge had an interesting story. Built originally as a RR bridge, when the trains went away in the early 70's a group of farmers bought it and had it moved so they could access property across a creek. When they built the rail trail they brought it back to service the trail. Three different lives for this bridge!!
Next bridge was built for two tracks which never got built. This is over 100 year old Pittsburgh steel.

Last viaduct as you can see I am getting to the top of the ridge!!
Finally, Eastern Continental Divide!!
 I rode this profile right to left. Now it is the cruise down to Cumberland!!

It is a short two miles to ride through the Big Savage Tunnel. Thank you to the people who got this trail set up. They had to spend big bucks to get the tunnel safe and usable again for cyclists and people to go through. I used my front light although they have the tunnel lit up with lights. It is some 3200 feet long.

 You come out of the tunnel with a fantastic "top of the mountain" views!!
Down I go!! My speed picks up to a nice 14 MPH average!! I come to cross the Mason Dixon line into Maryland which they have marked with a nice trail crossing.

One more tunnel and then the trail heads side by side with the Western Maryland RR. a tourist train that carries people up to Frostburg for a fun day of train riding.

I roll into Cumberland and the official end of the GAP trail and the start of the C&O towpath. I am pretty tired and low on energy but it is about 4:30 and I need to get a ways down the towpath to find one of the primitive campsites the National Park Service provides every 8 miles or so. I stop for a nice chocolate milkshake to perk me up and roll on!!
The trail changes dramatically rolling down the towpath!!

I reach my campsite at Ironbridge and get set up. I cook up dinner with some Mountain House freeze dried instant meals I have been carrying. Read a bit and crawl in and fall asleep quickly. One of the most dramatic days of cycling I think I have ever been a part of.
Thanks for reading along!!


  1. Those trails are beautiful.....Holland has bikepaths.....and a few, very few trails.

  2. The idea of a public campsite for riders on the trail is something the Katy could benefit from. Love the big LONG, high bridge, like the one on the Cowboy Trail. The profile of the trail makes it look like a very steep grade, I might have a bit of a problem with that, I'd have to go east to west. Looks like a very pretty ride.

    1. Richard, that picture of the profile is a bit exaggerated. There is not that much total elevation gain. the west to east is a very doable ride, just a never ending assent over three days. It would be a steeper ride east to west climbing the 22 miles out of Cumberland to the divide but again, not that much elevation change. You did the Copper Triangle which makes this look like a little bump!!!

  3. Congrats on grinding your way to the top and cresting the Continental divide Jim! As usual great shots and story that looks like a great ride. Hope the C&O is just as fun for you.