Riding the GAP

Sunday was a gloriously perfect day for a ride, so I drove about an hour west of my cabin to Cumberland, MD to check out the Great Allegheny Passage, a 130-ish mile trail linking up the end of the C&O with Pittsburgh. I’ve read some great things about the trail, mainly its surface. Sadly, I didn’t have the time to carve out a multi-day trek, but I got a good sense of things in my 41 mile round trip.

  • The surface is nice, but not as solid as I thought it would be. The crushed limestone wasn’t compacted in several spots, leaving a pretty soft slide when hit wrong. The portion I was riding had a slight incline to it, so on the descent things can get a bit dicey if you’re not paying attention.
  • Come fall, the vistas will be amazing… serious foliage potential. One ridgeline on the climb features a line of turbines… not a natural feature at all, but I’ve always thought they stand as a nice juxtaposition of technology amongst the wilderness.
  • The climb is not difficult at all, but it is about 25 miles long. By mile 20 I definitely felt it, but then again I never really took a real break to speak of. About MM 25, you hit the Eastern Continental Divide, so the rest of the ride turns into a gentle descent as you roll west. Since the climb goes pretty fast (and theĀ descentĀ even faster), I figure it’s reasonable to do the 130+ miles in 2 days (and therefore, the Pittsburgh to DC run in 5).
  • The train was cool, but the smog that comes out of that stack is no good for the lungs. The tunnels were nice and big for this claustrophobe, thank you very much.
  • Loved the Mason-Dixon line setup at the PA/MD border. I chose that as my turnaround point rather than tempt myself with what lay beyond the Continental Divide…
  • Oh, and the Bills won while I was riding. Like Cube said, it was a good day