A Rant and a Rave
A lot of people think it’s crazy to spend a vacation bicycling forty miles a day, sleeping in a tent, then getting up in the morning to do it again. There are others who are think forty miles a day is a walk — or should I say a coast downhill? — in the park.
I fall into neither category. Cycling all day and sleeping in a tent is my idea of fun. Unfortunately, my body disagrees.
Yes, I’m the one who signs up for such an adventure, then moans the whole way about what a slog it is. And can we please find somewhere that sells ice cream? And will we ever get to camp?
You’re probably wondering why I would put myself through something I knew would be such a challenge.
The answer is simple: I did it because I knew I could. More importantly, I know just how lucky I am to be able to, even after having cancer.
Well, I cycled the whole 205 miles and lived to tell you the tale.
Okay, so the official mileage was 191. My cycle computer said 205, and who are you going to believe?
And yes, I walked two hills, but only because we were starting from a complete stop at the bottom, which is a really sucky way to tackle a hill.
The odd thing was the bridges, which normally terrify me, were less of a challenge. I looked at them and thought, “Hey, I survived cancer. I can certainly do this.”
Part of the credit for this accomplishment goes to my friend Tina, who was my companion for this ride. She refused to take my complaining seriously and slowed to keep me company on the fifty-mile days. Credit also goes to Stella Ivy Eleanor Juliet Montague. Despite a slight problem with one of her pedals (repaired by the equally stellar Rod Mann, who served as the volunteer bike mechanic for the trip), Stella was — dare I use another astronomy reference? — a star.
I know you, dear readers. Some of you are reading this and saying, “That’s great for you, Kym, but I could never do such a thing.”
Well, maybe you could and maybe you couldn’t. You’ll never know unless you try.
I don’t mean everyone should run out and sign up for a bike tour. Heaven knows, there are enough witnesses to my whining without adding more. But I no longer believe in creating limits that don’t exist. If you don’t want to do something, fine. That’s a perfectly valid reason not to, in my book. But don’t go around saying you can’t, not until you’ve at tried.
Right. That’s the end of my sermon. Now check out these photos of the beautiful
Great Allegheny Passage.
This sculpture was in a little garden near the start of the trail, acting as a reminder to be careful along the way.
Rail-trails sometimes end up in places the modern world seems to have left behind.
We spent a lot of time looking at flowers along the trailside.
City park, also in Connellsville (I think).
It rained just long and hard enough to ensure the last ten miles to Confluence were briskly ridden. We camped there at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Outflow Campground beneath a dam.Below are some scenes around camp and town. I liked the name of the Confluence library. Also finally got to visit Falling Water. After seeing York Minster in April, I was not impressed though I did like a tree I saw on the property.
Rockwood was a charming town, with a lovely converted opera house. We ended up getting a free pizza — always a point in any town’s favor. I especially enjoyed the prints on the women’s room. “Mother’s Good Time Hat and Dress” — sign me up for one of those.
This is the really high, really long bridge I crossed — the Salisbury Viaduct. Darling Daughter and The Engineer should be proud. Very, very proud. Would have loved to take a picture from it to show you just how high it is, but couldn’t because I’m, you know, terrified of high bridges! And can I just say the people of Meyersdale were wonderful? The firemen and women served us delicious lasagna, salad, garlic bread, and beer. And the Lions Club made us a pancake breakfast with real maple syrup and local sausage. Also, the town has a very cool bar and restaurant called Morguen Tool, so called because it was once the morgue and a tool shop, though not, of course, at the same time.
You see the path? We were on that path, and that train passed just a few feet away from us.
One last quick story — We passed through a town called Library (http://library.pennsylvania.com/). There were two guys chatting at a car repair shop, and I mentioned I liked the name of their town. They asked what was up with all these cyclists, so I told them.
The younger one, who was maybe thirty, said, “That’s what I’m going to do when I get old, ride around on a bike.”
I’ll admit many in our group were aged perhaps fifty and above, but still …
“Thanks for that,” I said, knowing he was oblivious to the fact he’d just insulted me to my face.
And he repeated it again!
Let’s think about this — which of us was perched behind the wheel of a gas-guzzling truck, and which of us was on a bike, riding forty miles a day?
Addendum: I should have mentioned one of the reasons I hadn’t been on a bike trip since 2011 is because my cycling buddy, Pat Carterette, died early that year very shortly after learning she had cancer (and a few months before my own diagnosis). I still think of her often, especially when I’m riding. Thus, I dedicate this post to Pat, a woman missed by everyone lucky enough to have known her. She would have had a great time on Sojourn with Tina and me.
If you’re interested in participating in next year’s Sojourn, here’s a link to the website: