The Pedalshift Project 166: DC to Cincinnati – Great Allegheny Passage

The 14th Pedalshift Tour Journal whisks you (by bike, natch) from the District of Columbia across three of America’s great trails to Cincinnati, Ohio. In part two, we follow the Great Allegheny Passage from Cumberland, MD to Pittsburgh, PA and then hit the roads again into Ohio. The rain falls and the terrain turns hilly… does Type 1 fun turn to Type 2?

The Pedalshift Project 166: DC to Cincinnati - Great Allegheny Passage

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DC to Cincinnati – Great Allegheny Passage

For a preview of the ride, check out Pedalshift 162.
Part 1 on the C&O towpath – Pedalshift 165.
Part 2 on the Great Allegheny Passage – Pedalshift 166.
Part 3 on the northern half of the Ohio to Erie Trail – Pedalshift 167.
Part 4 on the southern half of the Ohio to Erie Trail – Pedalshift 168.
Part 5 on takeaways coming soon.

Curated photos over at Instagram. All photos here.

Pedalshift Society folks! Stay on the bonus feed and you’ll get a special bonus pod with each episode… kind of a summary of my thoughts on that part of the route! If you join Pedalshift Society at any point in the run, you’ll get access – pedalshift.net/society.

Mark your calendars – Pedalpalooza – Friday, June 14th in Portland, OR. Details coming soon and also at pedalshift.net/events. Sprocket, Joyride, Go Dig a Hole and more of your favorite shows repping on bikes with mics!

May 4

Slept HARD til 6:30
WiFi not so hot
Gas station cuisine
Weather looks unsettled – rain likely
Stick in my front wheel since Paw Paw??!!
May need air in my tires – beyond supple
Tree down requiring going on tracks for a brief moment… but none on C&O which was a miracle!
So muggy! Went to shorts
Trail was good in parts, soft in others
Felt slow
Tunnels have a perceptible cool breeze that hits you well before the opening
Mason-Dixon Line
Fog in Big Savage tunnel!!
ECD!
Like a rocket tied to my bike – even with a headwind
Ice cream as the rain starts in Meyersdale
Not sure where I’ll stop? With rain likely all
night it would be best to push but energy will dictate

——

Ride to Rockwood was delightful AF
A little light rain is nice to ride in if it’s not a slog
Why is it always raining when I’m in Rockwood
Bought a sandwich and they were playing Don’t Dream It’s Over by Crowded House… delightful
Definitely going to Confluence. I have 18 in me!
Easter Egg on the MM44 Post…
First real PGH influence – tattered Pens towel posted outside, recalling better championship days
Also Whoopee Pies – Pennsylvania’s best contribution to society if it weren’t all sugar and therefore poison
Rockwood always strikes me as a bit suspicious of me.
Bar next door was playing a deep cut from Poison. Time to go.
Jammed those 18 miles – listened to 90s music on shuffle. Turns out Filter is great to bike to.
Army Corps campground only $5 buuuut showers not open
Like Cube said… today was a good day

May 5

Rained all night and will likely rain all day in Confluence.
Interior of tent is starting to condense on the tarp so staying put doesn’t ensure staying perfectly dry
To zero or not to zero?
The further north the earlier the rain ends
Going to trust my rain wear and my dry bags and push at least to Connellsville and assess
12 miles to Ohiopyle was as expected – muddy and steady but slow rain.
Tried passing a biker with a trailer and a dog taking up the whole trail – dog sped up to my full passing speed so I just backed off
They didn’t like being followed so they pulled off. Not a great moment but understandable
Then a downed tree took some real effort to get over (me and panniers) and under (rest of the bike)
Could use a laundromat – likely tomorrow unless I call the day in Connellsville
Aaaand I made it to a laundromat! And man was I soaked!
It was cool enough that not addressing my state would be bad so this was a great time to stop.
Feeling good – not sure if this is my stop for the night or if I push on an extra 40 miles and earn that zero day!

——

The GAP after an all day rain is no better than the C&O after and all day rain. No trail handles it well unless it’s paved.
Like riding on the beach from Connellsville to West Newton – no more rocket tied to the back of the bike!
Rain down to occasional sprinkles
Getting pizza at Fox’s hoping to gather some energy for the final push to Draco (about 9 miles)
May arrive after dark
No signal there IIRC
I pass the 300 mile total mark in a mile!
Tomorrow looks like great weather for my wrap up of the GAP and the start of “new to me” for this tour!

May 6

Trail from West Newton to Dravo was substantially better – hard packed and fast. —Not sure why the other portions were so bad
But the GAP does recover more quickly than C&O
Apparently the ACA led Eastern Express group started in the last day or two. They’re assuredly experiencing bad conditions
Camp at Dravo is excellent – stocked with wood and heavenly. Pitched my tent in an Adirondack for extra privacy and went to sleep
Plans – PGH for a bit then bus FF and ride until I get to a reasonable wild camp spot. May not ID the place for obvious reasons but I’ll describe elements of it.
Missed Thrones last night – will watch during my break while I wait for sundown prior to my stealth camp tonight
COLD night was contrasted with nice warm sun. Felt good coming to PGH but had to change from heavier gear to sun riding gear.
Because it was closer to lunch I went to Urban Tap in the south side, which I really liked on my  trip last fall. Got some lower alcohol sours with a salad (it’s shocking what you crave on tour) with my bike locked to itself a few feet away on the sidewalk outside the open sliding windows. A gaggle of nearly graduate Pitt students were celebrating a bday over drinks nearby.
Bus leaves near Heinz Field then a less than ideal ride. Here we go!

Road route from Ambridge, PA to Kent, OH

May 7

Morning came early!
Did a riding morning edition

——

Entered Ohio with little fanfare
Shoulders shrank (at times to nothing) but drivers were good at giving a wide berth
Got on Bike Route J which was low traffic but had simply awful stretches of pavement. Deep ruts and potholes plus scattered gravel everywhere. Rideable but meh.
Scenic farms and houses on large plots of land dominated the day
Decided to skip the stealth camping and get an inexpensive hotel about a 20 minute ride from the Kent State campus. Simply put, I need a shower worse than I need to save face as camping guy.
Headwinds were gusty and tough today
Mixed terrain – hills flattened a bit as I got closer to Kent but the last few miles had some eff you’ers mixed in
Cheaper hotels were away from the campus and city center so I’m missing out on checking it all out. Too biked out after 68 miles to add more!

Statistics

Miles 234
Bus miles 16
Flats 0
Mechanicals 0
Camping nights 3
Stealth nights 1
Roofed nights 1
Mile Marker 44s Easter Egged 1
Number of times I heard “yinz” in Pittsburgh unironically 1

Pedalshift Society

As always we like to close out the show with a special shoutout to the Pedalshift Society! Because of support from listeners like you, Pedalshift is a weekly bicycle touring podcast with a global community, expanding into live shows, bonus podcasts and tour journals! If you like what you hear, you can support the show for 5 bucks, 2 bucks or even a buck a month. And there’s one-shot and annual options if you’re not into the small monthly thing. Check it all out at pedalshift.net/society. On to the society!
 
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Music

You’ve been hearing about Jason Kent and his music for many fine episodes. Their latest album may be their best yet. Go get it.

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