Thursday, October 17, 2013

GAPCO - Cedar Creek Park to Ohiopyle

Andy, stove tender by default—for deciding to bring our finicky Coleman stove—deals with foot-high
flames before he can boil water for breakfast.
40 Miles

Early morning we woke to dense fog. The air is muggy, but for now the rain holds off. We brew coffee and linger over breakfast. I eat last evening's leftover tortellini because I can't bear to throw it away. Plus, I'm not a big fan of oatmeal, which Andy and Patty gobbled down.

Photo credit: Patty
It's a slow process, packing panniers, forgetting where we stashed things, then unpacking and reshifting cargo, all while keeping rain gear handy for easy retrieval. It's a comedy of errors, before we're ready to roll around 9:30.

The arch in Connellsville. Photo credit: Patty
Pedaling past remnants of old mines, cinder piles, and a myriad of scarecrow markers interspersed along the trail indicating a Halloween fun run, light rain starts to fall. By the time we stop at the amazing Banning Trestle for a look, we scramble to pull on rain gear. Then, it pours buckets and we arrive in Connellsville and seek shelter under a covered picnic area.

When it rains, it pours. Photo credit: Patty
Might as well eat lunch!

Photo credit: Patty
An hour later, as we watch cyclers come and go, and a lone traveler decides to call it a day and seek refuge in one of two city provided lean-tos, we contemplate what to do. The forecast is grim. Nothing but more showers for the rest of today.

Patty's brought 3 hats, plus an extraordinary amount of clothing to keep warm. Now I understand
why she has more gear than I do. Photo credit: Patty
The deciding factor is that at 1 o'clock on September 23, tomorrow, we have reservations to tour Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright's amazing structure perched over a creek. It's only twenty miles further. We could stay in Connellsville, claim the vacant lean-to, especially with a food store nearby, and sit out the rest of the bad weather. It's what I would've done if it was only me. However, because Patty's phone works (mine was more primitive) and there are available indoor accommodations in Ohiopyle and I am able to move up The Fallingwater reservation, it's attractive to pedal through the rain.

She settles on her wide-brimmed hat because she doesn't have a hood on her jacket. Photo credit: Patty

A sign highlighting our position on GAPCO in Connellsville. Patty takes this photo
 through a bag, protecting her phone. Photo credit: Patty
Off we go, resigned to wet trail. Connellsville goes all out to welcome cyclists, walkers, and watersport lovers with parks, facilities, covered shelters, cycling sculptures, and bike shop. I'm sure there was much more.

High Bridge in Ohiopyle.
We ride through a wet, "green tunnel". We would joke about this reference throughout the whole adventure. It's a phrase my husband's doctor's wife coined because she didn't care for pedaling through a green canopy for all 335 miles. I also didn't get the feeling she loved bike touring, so it didn't hold much credence with us.

Photo credit: Patty
The trail turns to two lane single track and it's a beautiful ride through Ohiopyle State Park. This 20-mile section was the first rail corridor turned to trail. Despite the rain, now puddling in spots, we enjoy the solitude. Yet, we still encounter other hardly souls, many like us who are traveling to reach the next goal.

Photo credit: Patty
We pull over to watch multiple rafts and their occupants whooping it up in whitewater beyond the trees. Brakes are wet, screeching sandy grit against rims. As I come to a complete stop at an earthen berm, the back section of my front fender buckles, doubling up against the fork. I can't believe it. There isn't any stuck debris, though something must have initially jammed fender against tire. I back up and gingerly unfold the fender. The pointed ends of the metal supports remain in place, but tucked beneath the fender lip now and not outside. Amazingly, the fender still works and none of the hardware came loose. I can live with the big crimp in silver plastic fender. I'm just thankful it will still keep the road crud from spraying onto my legs.

A rain drop on the camera lens - how fitting! Andy wears a blue poncho over his leaky rain jacket.
I call him Batman because of the image he projects: a winged bicycle.
We enter Ohiopyle proper just after a beautifully long, high bridge, spanning a deep gorge.

Ohiopyle train station. Trail is between building and trees on the right.
The train station in town is renovated and houses a museum, but we didn't go inside. Instead, we located a cabin, one that's rather non-descript, appearing like a vinyl-sided box, but coincidentally two cyclists are returning to their cabin and offer to show us inside theirs. It's wonderful! Patty contacts the owner and we find hidden keys and let ourselves inside, taking off wet gear at the entrance.

Noiret wine is like a Merlot with peppery finish.
I'm thrilled, remarking how it's "glamping", glamorous camping. Two bedrooms, full kitchen, hot shower, blessed heat that we control to dry out gearquite comfortable. I overlook the guns and fishing paraphernalia mounted on the wall. The town is small enough to get around on foot. We locate food and Noiret wine from a local merchant. Incidentally, wine will become a staple with every meal, though we have to search for the correct store that sells it; it is not available at food stores. I spend time wiping Patty's and my bike, then oil chains. We lock the bikes outdoors near the picnic table, covered with Batman cape. After another pasta meal, we play Yahtzee (Andy brought a sandwich bag with dice and score sheets) and top off the evening with Jiffy Pop.

1 comment:

  1. I'm really enjoying the GAPCO trip. Hope to do a similar ride if not this one some day.


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