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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Trail Ride Report

Kevin, Carolyn and I decided to try our hand at the Allegheny Passage and C&O. Ashley was supposed to ride with us, but he hurt his knee a few weeks ago and he had to bow out. Ashley and I rode from West Newton to Frostburg a few years ago for a total of 104 miles each way. I am so glad I went ahead with this ride. Last year's rides were fun, but I never took the time to do an epic ride like this, especially with friends like Kevin and Carolyn. : )

We started out in Meyersdale, PA at the old train station. But, we decided to head north to ride across the Salisbury Viaduct. We turned around at the cemetery and then headed south. Visible for miles are the wind farms on top of the hills. Next highlight is the Keystone Viaduct which is shorter than Salisbury but still cool. It is a slight rise to the Eastern Continental Divide which is the point where water runs to the Chesapeake Watershed or the Gulf of Mexico. Onto the highlight of the trip for more than one reason, the Big Savage Mountain Tunnel.

As we passed out of the 3294" long tunnel the vista is amazing. It is about 20 miles across the valley to Cumberland, MD. We stopped to take pictures. I was fumbling with the camera until I noticed Kevin kneeling down in front of Carolyn. He proceeded to ask her hand in marriage! Carolyn said no, took the ring, and kicked him off the mountain. Just kidding! She accepted. I was honored to be a part of his proposal ceremony.

We regrouped and headed down to Frostburg crossing the Mason-Dizon line. We stopped for a moment at the trailhead and continued on. The train runs from Frostburg to Cumberland and the trail follows the rail. Video of the train passing is on Flickr. We stopped at Cumberland. MD for lunch at the Baltimore Street Grill. Good food and beer. I had the crab cake sandwich with fries and a porter to wash it down. Unfortunately it was not enough to hold me until the end. Kevin and Carolyn need to fill in their food choices.

From Cumberland south the trail becomes the C&O Canal trail. One word - boring! It is double track through the woods separating the canal and the Potomac River. Much more wildlife on this section. We passed deer, varieties of birds, beavers, turtles, a weasel (looked like a ferret), rabbits and a lot of fish in the canal.

We arrived in Hancock around 8pm and checked into the America's Best Value Motel. The motel was ok. At least they offered a hose to wash off our bikes. All the service people in Hancock were horrible. We called Fox's Pizza at 9pm and the guy yelled that they hadn't had an order in an hour and proceeded to hang up. The Pizza Hut staff was bad and the service was slow. I ate an entire 12" pizza. The Sheetz service was pretty bad in the morning.

Mileage down was 100 miles and we averaged around 13mph.

The C&O trail was pretty horrible shape. I experienced a flat within 10 miles of leaving Hancock. It became tiring to constantly yell out "root, rocks, water, rut, branches" for 67 miles. If I were to do the trail again I would only ride one way and drive back from DC. Or, do only the Allegheny Passage section which is crushed limestone and has great views.

We stopped at the Crabby Pig in Cumberland, MD. The restaurant sits on the trail next to the bike shop and across from the train station. The train pulled into the station for the last run as we sat down for lunch. I had the soft shell crab platter and a martini. Very good on both counts. I will have Carolyn and Kevin fill in the blanks for their food.

The climb from Cumberland, MD to Big Savage Mountain is only 1-2 percent, but it is 23 miles long. Whew! My thighs ached for three days after that section.

We arrived back in Meyersdale around 7:30pm after 96 miles.

Pics and videos
Great Allegheny Passage Website
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

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