Sunday, June 23, 2013

Alone in a Crowd: Montour/GAP/C & O Tour, June 2009 - Part 4

Monday morning the Bike Forums group awoke early and began to break camp in the early mist.

After three miles of trail I entered Connellsville, passing underneath the new arch they installed over the trail last fall. I looked ahead at the mountain I'd be climbing today.

At one point or another in town I passed most of the group either on their way to or from breakfast. I picked up food in town and headed for the bridge into Ohiopyle State Park. This is the first of the several old trestles rebuilt for trail use. I ate breakfast and photographed Spinnaker riding across the trestle. 

Spinnaker and ALHanson suggested I ride with them, but I said no, partly because I didn't want to slow down faster riders, and partly because I enjoyed the solitude of the ride. I faced 17 miles of near uninterrupted forest till Ohiopyle, and I wanted to be alone with my thoughts.

My thoughts, however, were increasingly "what happened to me since August 2008?" I wasn't riding as strongly as I had the last two times I'd climbed in the park. Unlike my two 2008 trips, this time the climb was a struggle instead of a grind. Still I soldiered on.

Chuck, my companion of the day before, must have slept in that morning, as he caught up to me near what is perhaps my favorite scene on the Great Allegheny Passage, the view from the Gas Line Overlook. As you climb the tree cover breaks and below you see the rock-studded Yough. The trail turns to the left as it goes by an old railroad retaining wall. Chuck took the opportunity to go foraging for wild edibles as I sat on the bench and took in the scene. 

We eventually reached Ohiopyle, the small town surrounded by the park. On discovering that Sisters' in Confluence, our lunch stop, was closing at 2:00 PM, Chuck and I pushed it over the remaining 11 miles. We were seated at 1:40; I'd maintained about a 10-11 MPH clip with a loaded trailer on an upgrade. 

Bikes in the rack outside Sisters' in downtown Confluence. Note the trailer on the left; I'd probably sleep poorly if I had to share a campsite with that rider. 

While in Confluence, I remembered there was a covered bridge a couple of miles out of town. I decided to see it, and Chuck went with me out of a mixed sense of adventure and concern for my safety. After a three mile trip I discovered I'd gone in the wrong direction. Chuck urged scratching the trip, but I told him I'd go on alone. I rode with him back to the GAP trailhead, and headed out. 

I didn't get very far, however. I soon decided Humboldt bridge could wait for another day, and headed back to the trail. I regretted my action. It was rude of me to dismiss Chuck, and by taking a side trip in an area without cell phone service it meant the group had no way to contact me. I thought about this often during the 20 mile climb from Confluence to Rockwood.

I'd been struggling with the dynamic of the group since the first day, when I neglected hydration in order to keep up with stronger riders. While I found all the folks on the ride congenial, it didn't mean that we could, or should, ride together. I resolved to pay more attention to my part in the fabric of the group, but at the same time not stress myself more than I should in a desire to fit in with stronger riders. So no side trips, but at the same time if I needed to stop or needed more time, I'd take it. As Chuck and I had discussed that morning, I'd done this trip twice before. I had nothing to prove to anyone, least of all myself.

As I thought this I noticed a stiffness in my right knee. My hammering with Chuck on the trail to Confluence was having an effect. I traveled in my lowest gear as slowly as I could, took frequent breaks, and when I met JAGraham at Markleton trailhead, accepted her offer to SAG me and my gear the remaining six miles to Rockwood. On getting to Rockwood and learning there was a new hostel in town, I took a bed there instead of camping. I iced, took Ibuprofen, and went to bed.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

A Taste For The Woods: Alone in a Crowd: Montour/GAP/C & O Tour, June 2009 - Part 4

This page has moved to a new address.

Alone in a Crowd: Montour/GAP/C & O Tour, June 2009 - Part 4