Biking the GAP
Follow Chad’s biking journey as he bikes from Pittsburgh to D. C.
Reflecting back 335 miles.
Now that the trip is over and I have had some time to reflect on it, I want to share some additional thoughts based on some of the questions I have received in sharing my exploits with others.
Wess, Dale and I had some long conversations on the car ride back last Saturday about if we did it again, would we do anything different? Would we even do it again? Was there one thing that stood out from the entire trip? What did we least like? I will say, the conversation was interesting.
Most likely Wess and I may get a chance to do the trip again. Our original intent for the trip included another brother, Wayne. Unfortunately Wayne was not in position to join us due to a change in careers. He retired from the Army and started a new civilian career, so a pretty big change and the timing was off. Dale most likely would join us, mainly due to peer pressure.
So, this led to what would we do different? Probably not much overall, but a few things do stand out. We would not need to pack as much. Granted, we packed very little, but we could easily pick up energy bars along the way as opposed to packing these for the entire trip. This would save quite a bit of room. Although Wess and I each had camelbacks, we could probably have gotten away with additional water bottles on the bike. Much of this would be dependent on the weather though. The first day, we consumed a lot of water. Did I mention a lot of water? So it was nice to have the camelback although Dale survived with just the water bottles.
Everything else we packed we used. We carried nothing more than a change of clothes, toiletries, rain gear, first-aid kit, and tools for the bikes, and yes we had spare tubes and CO2 cartridges to blow the tubes up along with a manual pump. There was nothing in my bag that I did not use. Well one thing, toilet paper. One just never knows when you need it. Wess and I had racks with saddle bags that worked out great. Dale tried the backpack thing. Although he would have muscled through the trip this way, he did admit it was much easier with the rack once he put it on during day two.
There were many great things that standout from the “Tour”. First and foremost was the Paw Paw Tunnel. Mainly due to the length and shear darkness. The people we met and their determination was inspiring. The GAP was better than the C&O Towpath, just a much better ride. Climbing to the Eastern Continental Divide and then spending the next 20 miles going downhill after the ascent. Following the Potomac River and seeing how it changes as it transverses between Maryland and West Virginia into the Washington D.C. area. Overall just seeing the sites and learning about the history was pretty incredible.
There is not much that stands out about our least favorite part. If I had to pick one thing, it would be our difficulty finding the mile marker 0 at the end of the trip as it was not easy to locate. Plus, the state of the last lock compared to others on the trail. With it being in D.C. and with the C&O playing a prominent part in our country’s growth, one would think it would be a much better state of repair. Especially since it is in Georgetown right on the waterfront.
I want to thank everyone for following the journey. Stay tuned as there are more bicycling exploits as Joe Reiheld has been training to ride in the Pelotonia. This just a short 100 mile jaunt through the Columbus, OH to Cambier, Ohio. Please join me in supporting him during this ride as 100% of every rider raised dollar goes directly to fund research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.
To make a donation and please click on the link below to Joe’s rider profile on the Pelontonia website.
Day 6 Friday July 1st, 2016
It was harder finding this marker than biking the trail. It was located behind a boat house of which one has to transit their parking lot and dock area and go behind a stockade fence. I was bound and determined to find, luckily one of the employees knew exactly what I was looking for.
In case you get the itch, one can be a canal lock master for the night and stay here. Maybe next time.
The trail was different every day making each ride different. It was funny, every time we came across a drop like this, Wess would move to the other side.
1st stop of the day to grab a bite to eat…it could not come soon enough about 28 miles into it.
I have been seeing amazing trees each day but these two stood out. One can only imagine the history they have seen.
This is the last day and I am definitely tired and sore but the weather has been amazing. Only 68 miles to ride today.
Day 5 Thursday June 30th, 2016
I am not one to use hostels, but I will say this one was a welcomed site. It actually was a great place and many hikers from the Appalachian trail stay here. Wen met an older lady of whom has been on the trail for 10 weeks and I thought a week was long.
Harpers Ferry, WV was a welcomed site after 68 miles on the trail. However, what was not welcomed was the mile long hill out of lower Harpers Ferry to the Teahorse Hostel.
Day 4 Wednesday June 29th, 2016
Thanks to Jack at Bills, we found the Maryland’s western rail trail. This paved beast parallels the C& O Towpath for the next 22 miles. oOooh yeah, some smooth riding to Hancock.
If you are ever in little Orleans in Maryland, stop by Bill’s. It is a great place for food and great people. It is just a little ways off the beaten path.
It was a tough day. We did 55 miles on this and it was rough. The butt is hurting now.
The Paw Paw tunnel was the coolest part of the day. It was a short 3,330 feet of total darkness on a 36 inch trail that was very difficult to navigate. Just a wooden rail keeping me from dropping off.
Turtles galore in the cable water sun bathing.
Then the mud mess turned into a goats path.
Well the great start turned into a nice mud mess for most of the day.
Great start to the day.
For those that are wondering about the folks we have met on the trail, it has not been many. We do run into people at the visitors center at each small town, typically the visitor’s center have been the old train stations, so it is kind of interesting meeting at the same spot many people have for many many years but once biking, we do not see many.
I will say each have a different story. We met two guys that left over two weeks ago from Des Moines, IA. who have logged well over 1000 miles. The two ladies, that were biking to the top of Mt. Savage each well into their 60s. Everyone has been extremely friendly asking where we started and where are we heading. When we got our flat yesterday, everyone that went by asked if we needed help and of course we had it. After all we are three competent guys that had yet to change a tube.
Anyhow, appears to be another great day in the upper 70s. I am feeling alright, actually my wrist hurts from when I fell yesterday, yes you can laugh, it was funny.
Day 3 Tuesday June 28th, 2016
Here are a few other images from today.
The end of day 3 and we made it to the end of the GAP and onto the C&O Towpath. Actually, to the Fairfield Inn here in Cumberland first. All in feel better today than the other two days. It does help the last 20 miles were all downhill.
Somebody asked for the blood and gore shots. The joys of being clipped into the pedal, one has to remember to un-clip at the stop sign. If not, it can be a rather comical site. (This is my leg by the way)
Well the slow leak became a flat and we are only 3 miles from Cumberland. Nothing like the three stooges trying to change a tube but we got it done and had the bike shop in Cumberland redo it.
Now it is starting to feel like we made somewhere, Maryland.
Finally some cool riding for 3/4 of a mile in the dark.
Wess is dealing with our first flat. Well, actually just low pressure. We have been very lucky so far with no major tire issues as many in the trail have had some.
It is all downhill from here.
6 miles into a humid day 3 and this is our first pit stop. We were hoping Dale was going to “ditch it” as he has been talking and riding.
I actually feel pretty good this morning, better than yesterday. Despite commerce hard at work last night with a train passing through about every 90 minutes. Today should be good as we are riding about another 50 miles today. We are climbing to the highest point on the trail, as we cross the eastern continental divide at 2396 ft, and get to go through the longest tunnel, Mt. Savage tunnel at about 3390 ft.
Well, it is not the Hampton but it will work. I feel better than I did yesterday as it has been 10 degrees cooler today.
Day 2 Monday June 27th, 2016
Made it to Rockwood after 45 miles on the trail. It could not be soon enough as it has been a long day with some rain today.
Nothing like 45 miles of this…
Riding over another bridge with amazing scenery.
Another waterfall which we have passed today.
30 miles into our ride and we got wet after we left Ohiopyle. We then stopped for lunch with all of our biker friends at the Sister’s Cafe.
We had 2:1 odds that Dale was going into the water. 3:1 that he gets sick from the water.
Started out the morning after a good night’s rest at the Seams Like Home Bed and Breakfast. It was an awesome place! Check it out if you are ever in or near Connellsville, PA. (Just tell Rick you heard of it from Chad.)
Day 1 Sunday June 26th, 2016
Not sure what this is, but had to stop as it was 45 miles in and my butt is hurting.
Stopped in West Newton after 37 miles…it was needed. Had lunch at the Trailside Cafe.
This is probably one of the more scenic rides, as this is just one of many waterfalls we have passed today.
Now we are getting into the real trail and no more pavement.
One of the many river crossings. The trail has been great so far 16 miles into our journey.
Met up with Dale after 10 miles…crossed a bridge and he runs into a fence…just a little road rash to start the trip.
I would rather be riding the coasters at Kennywood.
Ugh…Is this what I have to look at for the next six days?
Getting started on Day 1 as we leave Point State Park. Only 335 miles to go.
June 24th, 2016
Follow ACI President Chad Brahler’s biking journey as he pedals from Pittsburgh to D.C.
Chad along with his brother Wess, will be biking 335 miles over a 6-day journey on The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP), beginning on June 26th in their hometown of Pittsburgh, and ending July 1st in Washington D.C.
This is a journey of two brothers challenging themselves and each other until they reach their destination where they can pick up their reward – Accomplishment.
Keep checking back here starting June 27th for updates on their journey.