Biking from Pittsburgh to Leesburg | Day 3
July 2, 2009
Day 2: Confluence –> Frostberg [51.5 mi]
Beware, readers. This post is going to be picture heavy, since this day was the longest day of riding. Lots to talk about, but even more to see!
On awaking in Confluence, at the fancy Army Corp of Engineers campsite, we headed into the teensy town to have breakfast cooked for us by someone else. The diner was cheap and delicious and it was nice to not have to worry about making our own food for a meal. We didn’t dawdle, because today was going to be a long day. We had about 50 miles to ride until our planned campsite, in Frostberg, and this was the third day of long riding for a bunch of bicycle tourists who hadn’t done a big tour in a year.
I’m not sure if I mentioned this earlier, but to give you some perspective on the Allegheny Passage, leading to the C&O trail, and what to expect when riding, please take a peak at this:
So, as you can see, riding so far has been on an upwards incline and Day 3, from Confluence to Frostberg, is going to include the steepest section. Day 1 and Day 2, the incline isn’t really noticeable. The incline is slight, and you really see when you look forward and the trail is bending upwards in the distance. It doesn’t feel like climbing, but towards the middle of Day 3, the incline was increasing and we were starting to really feel the effects. We were getting super pooped.
As the trail began to get more mountainous, we knew that not only are bridges coming up, but we would be going through some pretty amazing tunnels.
Obviously not this tunnel. The second picture is of the inside of the tunnel, and you can see that it is a pretty bad mess and probably quite expensive to remedy for through traffic of hikers and bikers. So around we went, on a couple mile detour around the side of the mountain, and rested at the other end of the blocked tunnel, which was at the foot of a decent bridge.
It was day 300 of my 365 day project, and I feel like my picture on the bridge was a nice way to celebrate it. On a bridge. On a bike tour. And feeling pretty good.
Miles later, we crossed another epic bridge and still were at awe as to the engineering feat of these structures.
This area was full of farmland, a family of Mennonites who waved and smiled emphatically at us as we passed, and a ridge of wind turbines. Can I ask you this, dear readers, why are so many people upset when wind turbines come to their area? They are so delicate looking, so graceful, blend in with the sky, and have a great impact on the environment (in fact, within about 3 years, they are carbon neutral from their manufacturing, shipping, and installation). I mean really. I get so annoyed when I hear of people protesting their installation. But I digress.
Here’s a picture of Kasy, and our loaded up bikes, at the mid-point of the bridge, just to give you a sense of how long it really is, in comparison to a human.
Between this big bridge and the Eastern Continental Divide, no pictures were taken. Not because there was nothing to see, but really, it was because I was hurting up a storm. Tired from the miles. Tired from the elevation. Sun blazing down.
But then, we arrived, at the point where after crossing it, we would be cruising downhill at high speeds. The Eastern Continental Divide! I was really happy to see that the Passage had a cool tunnel marking the location, since really, when would I ever have the chance to really cross the Divide, and feel that difference. Seeing the tunnel up ahead, gave me that last little push up the elevation and rejuvenated me, even though we still had 15 more miles to go.
But wait! There’s more! The Divide wasn’t the only awesome thing about Day 3. Shortly after crossing it, we got to ride in the Big Savage Tunnel, which we had been hearing loads about. The Savage Tunnel is 3294.6 feet long, right through a mountain, with low lighting. Kasy had recently installed a bottle generator LED headlight on his touring bike and wanted to see it in action, so we swapped bikes (a wonderful thing that we can do, since we both ride the same size bike), flipped it on, and went racing super fast through the very chilly, dark, super long tunnel.
When looking online for some info about the tunnel, to share with you and my flickr peeps, I found this video online of someone biking through the tunnel. It’s totally worth a watch, and you can see how trippy it is to ride through it. The end feels like it’s never getting closer, and when you get far enough in, it really envelopes you in darkness. Totally awesome, especially when riding really fast through it (luckily nobody else was in the tunnel with us).
As we exited the tunnel, with the cold tunnel air really energizing us, we found ourselves facing a gorgeous site! The view from the other side of the tunnel is really breathtaking, and we stopped for a few minutes to switch back bikes, and take in the scenery.
We headed downhill, at a pretty wonderful clip, and arrived in Frostberg for a good, warm dinner, a bunch of cold beers from the cafe at the campsite, and a hot shower.
Oh, and this campsite was kind of the most ridiculous campsite imaginable. Up on a hill, behind a cafe and hostel, where we were allowed to use showers and laundry facilities, we camped. This wouldn’t be so bad, if we didn’t have to roll our bikes and gear up this:
And, before you even ask if maybe they weren’t expecting bikers, the ramp is so steep and so long that it was seriously tiring to even walk up it.