WASHINGTON, DC 2008: Our 2008 ride from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC was to raise money for Deaf Mission in Western Pennsylvania, a PALM mission. We started out on June 13, dodging raindrops, beginning our trip at Buena Vista instead of Boston. Thankfully, the rain did not keep up. This was our first big ride to use the new uniforms which we were able to purchase through a grant from the Eastern District LWML--LCMS. (SCROLL)

Rest stop at Smithton Beach, Great Allegheny Passage (Youghiogheny River Trail)

We did 33 miles the first day, with five riders, ending at the Melody Motor Lodge outside Connellsville, PA, after an ample supper at Wendy's.

Before we could start the second day, we had to drop one rider who got sick. Then we began again with rain, but this time it didn't stop. We were hopeful a couple of times, and took off our rain gear, but each time had to put it back on. We stopped for lunch at Ohiopyle. After 29 miles, we finished at Confluence House and dined at the Sisters' Cafe before turning in for the night.

Starting out after lunch break, Ohiopyle

Resting by the Yough right before arriving in Confluence

The morning of Day 3 we enjoyed an amazing breakfast of strawberry-stuffed French toast, in very agreeable company. After hosing off the accumulated mud of the day before, we had our own church service in the backyard of Confluence House and set off for the Allegheny Highlands Trail and Meyersdale. Although we had only two people on the triplet, we were able to make the best ascent of the mountain to date, and covered the 30 miles to Meyersdale in good time, checking in at the hostel for the night. Lunch at the store in Rockwood kept us going--the triplet captain had to have another one of the marvelous kielbasa with sauerkraut!

Nearly across the low bridge at Pinkerton's Neck

Salisbury Viaduct, near Meyersdale

After leaving the hostel in Meyersdale, we did laundry and also checked e-mail at the library. Although the fourth day began rain-free, before we ever got to the summit near Big Savage Tunnel we encountered precipitation. We paused for a picture at the Eastern Continental Divide, spending some time out of the rain in the little tunnel there. The rain gear was on and off as we passed through the next three tunnels; our 32 miles for the day ended in an icy downpour. Three riders left the trip in Cumberland, Maryland, leaving the triplet captain by himself. He spent the night in the Holiday Inn, which offers free Internet access at a terminal in the lobby.

Crossing the Eastern Continental Divide, just past Deal, Pennsylvania

View exiting Big Savage Tunnel

Entering Borden Tunnel, past the Maryland state line

Exiting Brush Tunnel, rail-with-trail

Heading to the Holiday Inn, Cumberland

The fifth day the group leader continued alone on the triplet, beginning the many encounters with lockmasters' houses along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. This stretch also has the first of many hayfields along the canal, with the typical huge rolls of hay. Soon after the hayfield came a gaggle of Canada geese blocking the path. Although they hissed at the rider, they did not attack him! Lunch was at the Pigman's Ferry hiker-biker campground, where the group spent the night in 2006, eating breakfast with the cows--rather literally, as one cow broke through the fence! This time, although their temper seemed no better, the tail-lashing bovines confined their belligerence to fighting over a salt block! The rider checked in at the Little Orleans Lodge after riding the triplet 44 miles alone.

Lockmaster's house, Lock 72

Lock 72


Canada geese blocking the towpath

Lunch with the cows, Pigman's Ferry

On the sixth day, the director of the Deaf Mission and two of his family members, veterans of the 2005 ride, joined the trip, bringing us back to four for the next three days. We enjoyed a hearty breakfast at the Little Orleans Lodge before setting out. We rode Little Orleans-Williamsport on Day 6--42 miles. The 22-mile paved Western Maryland Rail Trail made this a lot easier.

The seventh day we did Williamsport-Shepherdstown, 27 miles, and on the eighth day we took a break with only 18 miles to Brunswick, Maryland, where we had to find a temporary home for the solo bike. Ed and Mary Mauzy of Bethany Lutheran Church graciously kept it until it was picked up after the ride. The Deaf Mission riders headed back toward home, while the triplet captain went toward the Green Country Inn. The next morning he enjoyed a railroader's breakfast at the 24-hour cafe.

Stretching at Milepost 99, just past Williamsport

McMahon's Mill

Antietam Creek aqueduct

The triplet captain finished the trip in two more days, camping at Swain's Lock the last night after 40 miles. Friendly campers nearby feasted him (thick turkey burgers, four varieties of cheese, carrots, crackers, choice of drinks, etc., etc.); then came a game of dominoes. In 1997, on his first ride to Washington, DC, the leader ate baked beans and hot dogs with Boy Scouts at this location. The 2006 riders had planned to camp here on that trip, but the campground was under three feet of water! The Swain family, original lock tenders, who lived in the lockmaster's house for four generations, had moved out two months earlier. The house is now unoccupied like the rest of them.

The final day, June 22, 2008, covered 33 miles, dipping into Washington, DC at Fletcher's Boathouse before heading toward the ultimate destination of Berwyn Heights, Maryland. As the route departs the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, there is a dramatic overhead view of the canal and towpath from the Capital Crescent Trail. The Georgetown Branch Trail leads over to the descent on the gorgeous Sligo Creek Trail. After sections on the Northwest Branch Trail and the Northeast Branch Trail, the ten-day, 300-mile ride wrapped up on the Indian Creek Trail, which comes within two blocks of the home of Pastor Rudy Kampia and his wife Judy. There were no flat tires and no broken spokes for the entire trip, thank God!

Camping at Swain's Lock, Chesapeake & Ohio Canal

View of the canal and towpath from the bridge on the Capital Crescent Trail

First bridge over Sligo Creek--one of many on this trail

Another Sligo Creek bridge--built to the typical arch design

Crossing Indian Creek on the Indian Creek Trail, one mile from the finish line

Riding a triplet alone is really rather pleasant: there is plenty of room for your luggage--no backpack on your back, the ride is more comfortable than a solo bike, and there is lots to drink with ten bottle cages! Our triplet is also geared very low on the bottom end (28-tooth granny and 34-tooth Alpine cogs) and went up steep hills and ramps quite nicely.

The Allegheny Trail Alliance Web site has maps and many links to information on trails in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, and West Virginia.

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