Wednesday, October 7, 2015

An Autumn Ride on the Great Allegheny Passage

There is a name for those of us who like grey skies, a drizzle of rain, and temperatures hovering around 50⁰F (besides Scottish). It’s Pluviophile - lover of rain, someone who finds peace in grey, rainy days. You can imagine my delight when I saw the forecast for our weekend trip to ride the Great Allegheny Passage.  It was perfect – gorgeous fall colors and the sensation of Mother Nature beginning to rest. The trail was covered with leaves of all colors. The sweet, nutty scent of the leaves when crushed by our bike tires combined with the smell of the cold rain and the nearby river was a fall festival for the senses.

The Gingerbread House
Our long drive from home to the Gingerbread House B&B was daunting especially when an accident closed the highway, setting us back an hour. The silver lining to our delay was it gave our good friends, who had left earlier, time to pick up some seasonal craft beer and a bottle of wine. We had been hoping to catch up with them for dinner but, as fate would have it, Velo Junkie and I had to settle for Arby’s on the go. It seemed we would never reach our destination on the winding roads through the rainy night. We finally pulled up to the B&B about midnight, exhausted.

The bed was a welcomed sight and I slept like a stone, for a few hours. I was awakened early by some very vivid, off-the-wall dreams that I can’t even recall now, just that they were weird and I woke up angry. Upon waking I realized the area had no cell phone reception for AT&T service so I wouldn’t be getting any photos from my daughter’s homecoming dance till Sunday.

Breakfast was at 8:00 a.m. and home-cooked food sounded delightful. That’s when we met Ted, a
solo cyclist on his way from Pittsburgh to DC. Being semi-retired, Ted was not in any hurry and was adjusting his travel around the weather. He was new to touring by bike and thought the GAP would be the perfect introduction. I want to add here that I really think cyclists are neat people. Whether new or seasoned they are just cool people to be around. We shared stories with Ted for about an hour then he needed to hit the trail before the predicted rain and we wanted to head to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water for some easy, morning hiking.

Trekkie and the Reluctant Cyclist
The GPS took us down some dirt roads that I would have guessed were not even charted. If the rain had come we may have been stuck in some ruts for a while. As it would be, it never rained and we made it to Falling Water only to find out we needed reservations if we wanted to see the inside. **Sigh**. We settled for touring the outside of the property, which exceeded our expectations, and had an overpriced lunch in the café. I don’t want to use a lot of my blog real estate on Falling Water, but it is an impressive look into another era and well worth the trip.

The four of us decided to head out for an afternoon ride from the B&B when we got back from our morning tour. Oh brother, that is when the Reluctant Cyclist in me took over. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to ride; I did. But I had this inclination that Velo really wanted to take off with his Pedal Pal, and Pedal Pal’s wife would rather be exploring on foot because she is more a fan of trekking. Then the positioning of my handlebar camera didn’t suit me, my tights were pinching me, I was dressed too warm, and my seat was mal-adjusted. We had moved it from the Gunnar of which the geometry was different. I was glad when we caught up with our friends and Trekkie wanted to turn around for a glass of wine. We left Velo and his Pedal Pal on their journey and went in search of the fruit of the vine.

After we each had a glass of wine (really it was a plastic Solo cup) we went out to explore the booming metropolis that is Rockwood, PA. One bar, one gas station, and The Mill Shops. Coffee and some delectable pastries awaited us at the Mill Shops. We wandered to the bar for a look at their menu but it didn’t exist. The only restaurant in town was, you guessed it, the Mill Shops. Velo and Pedal were still out so we ordered pizza and hoagies to go. The very big apple tree hanging with sweet fruit couldn’t go unnoticed through the parlor window. I invited Trekkie to pick some apples with me and she reluctantly obliged, fearful of spending the night in some rural jail cell for stealing fruit. 

Velo and Pedal
 Velo and Pedal were ecstatic to get hot food after riding several hours in the cold, damp wind. Dinner was followed by a 12 pack of Sam Adams Seasonal Ale variety and a few mindless rounds of Euchre. (We beat Pedal and Trekkie 3-0)

Up early the next morning for breakfast at 8:00 again, this time meeting two women from southern California. Both were new riders and definitely not used to the Pennsylvania mountain weather or cuisine. This was a birthday adventure for Jacquelyn and she wanted to share it with her friend, Stacey, rather than her husband. It was entertaining hearing why they left the guys home with the kids in California.

Jacquelyn and Stacey took off for the next town on their bikes, Pedal and Trekkie took off towards home in their car, and that left Velo and I. I was excited to ride in the morning while the temperatures were still in the 40’s and the fog hovered over the trail. Ahhhh! Autumn bliss. We could only ride about 20 miles because the 6 hour car ride home was looming.
Casselman River
Pinkerton Tunnel
In spite of the short distance the scenery was spectacular and the ride exciting. We had everything from dry pavement, to wet, leaf covered gravel, to wooden bridges, and even a long tunnel. We saw wildlife readying for winter, formidable crags, a white capped river, and a variety of cyclists. Make a note here – if you use a Garmin Virb for video recording and you ride over rough terrain, the SD card can slip thereby losing your video.  I was glad I had taken some still pictures and was able to record the trip back to the B&B. I had to tell poor Velo to get out from in front of me so I could record something other than his a**. Geeze. He must have thought everybody wanted to see it.

We had intended to go into the B&B to change out of our damp cycling clothes for the drive home. Funny thing – the door was locked. One thing we are not is shy. There was a side porch out of view of the main road that served just fine as our changing quarters. Another adventure in the books.

#greatalleghenypassage #rockwoodpa #pedalpal #trekkie #velojunkie #autumnbliss #pluviofile


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