Day 2 of #nowrongplan started at 5 AM with the sound of rain on my tent. Ordinarily, this would have been fine but I didn’t bother putting the rainfly on the night before. Now, I was getting wet…inside my tent. In the haze of my sleepiness I thought, “I can just drag my whole tent into one of these Adirondack shelters.” Quickly, reason and logic determined I needed to quickly toss the rain fly on for protection…while wearing very little clothing.
As I was running around my tent I heard a voice from behind me, “How far are you guys going today?” Meth Man…..damn it!!!! He had snuck up on me when I wasn’t looking. “Somewhere around Meyersdale I think” I replied, not wanting to tell him we planned to stay in Meyersdale in the event he wanted to rob and/or kill us along the way. I stumbled around my words with the increasing cold. I wanted to be honest with him but I really didn’t want to tell him exactly where we planned to stay. He obviously wanted to chat more at 5 AM but I was very cold and told him I had to get out of the rain and back in my tent for some warmth.
I tried to sleep a bit more but unsuccessfully. #nowrongplan in it’s entirely awoke around 6:30. Kevin broke out his fancy french press coffee gadget while I fired up my MSR stove with it’s pyrotechnic light system to make breakfast. Once we got the necessary caffeine and nutrients in our systems, #nowrongplan rolled out of Connellsville, PA.
Meth Man had left well ahead of us (apparently he does not sleep) but he was still a massive topic of conversation amongst the three of us. What a strange dude. As we pedaled out of Connellsville, we quickly entered into rural Pennsylvania bliss. I was quickly falling into that “Zen” feeling I was craving.
I had been told that Ohiopyle was amazingly beautiful but I was unprepared for it to meet expectations. The weather was perfect, the trail was in great condition, and the scenery was spectacular . There was no place else I would rather be in that moment.
Pedal……pedal……deep breath…….look around……smile…….pedal…..pedal.
We crossed over the Youghiogheny River on this bridge to admire the view. Below was a kayaker making the rapids look like child’s play.
It was during this section of the ride where I realized the most difficult physical aspect of the trip: My butt was starting to hurt a bit and my hands were getting sore.
What makes the GAP easy to ride is also makes it hard. The trail never exceeds a 1.5% grade; there are no hills to go up or down. There is no natural variation of terrain to require you pedal out of the saddle or move your hands into different positions. It doesn’t matter how good your bike fit is, try lying in bed for 7 hours in the same position. I rode for a while in one position and when it would annoy me, I would switch to something else. I started playing this game: stand up, pedal, sit down, pedal, move hands, drops, hoods, tops. Seriously, I am not sure how anyone could do this ride with a straight bar mountain bike with only one hand position to use.
We stopped in Ohiopyle at the general store/restaurant where we consumed what you do at 11 AM: ice cream. We’re on vacation, you got a problem with that? We finished our late morning treats and continued on the trail towards lunch.
Pedal….pedal…..listen to the sound of trains…….pedal….zen out…..meth man….pedal.
It was about this time in the trip when I learned an important bike touring skills: the bike stand. The day before Kevin had locked his loaded bike to a bike rack during lunch. It was too heavily loaded to be stable leaning against a bike rack on the top tube. During our lunch, Kevin’s bike fell over while locked to the rack. Given how heavily loaded it was, we were lucky it escaped with just a paint scuff and not a bent top tube. For that point forward I implemented a “lean against the panniers” method. This bike tour parking approach was a welcomed skill for the rest of the tour. But I digress, who cares about my learning how to park my bike on a tour?
As we approached Rockwood, PA I saw a speck in the distance. It was someone on the trail. I could tell it was a bicyclist and told John and Kevin, “I think that is Meth Man”. They were dubious at first. Slowly but surely, we reeled the bicyclist in. It was, in fact, Meth Man – complete with mountain bike, tiny backpack and one water bottle hanging off the belt loop on his shorts. I found it hard to believe this guy was traveling so far while seemingly being so unprepared. He was either to most awesome or the craziest cyclist I have ever seen. Possibly both. We pedaled along with Meth Man for miles, puzzled by him more and more. We were approaching Rockwood, PA and John suggested we stop at the Opera House for lunch. The skies were starting to look somewhat threatening so the chance for some lunch while dodging the rain was a welcome idea. As we pulled into Rockwood with Meth Man in tow, it started to rain a bit. I had an odd exchange with Meth Man about our lunch plans. I wanted to be nice but felt uncomfortable inviting him to have lunch with us. Thankfully, he said was just going to grab something at the convenience store along the trail. We pedaled uphill into town in search of the Opera House, finding it housed in a large old commercial structure which also provided space for locals to sell their down-home, small batch artisanal crafts.
I quickly ordered what I have been craving for a while: The Meatball Sub. Food tastes so good when you are on a long bike ride.
A little bit of rain pushed through as we ate. We quickly got back on the trail so we could make it to our goal for the day: Meyersdale, PA. I wanted to stay at a place called Yoder’s mainly because it was called Yoder’s, I mean come on…… Yoder’s. Maybe my inner Redneck was coming out a bit. The other reason I wanted to stay there was the excellent reviews from other touring cyclists, the rustic appeal, and while….Yoder. Shhhhhh…… don’t tell Meth Man.
Once back on the trail, we quickly caught up to Meth Man again. He was slow but once he latched onto us, he was like the Energizer Bunny gaining 2-3 mph over his normal pace. We weren’t actively trying to lose him nor were we trying to find him. He found us…over and over….and over. It turns out only one picture of Meth Man exists.
His powers were so great that he was able to disable all of our cameras including my GoPro which was shooting pictures ever 30 seconds. Nothing…..vanished. However, his image is burned into my mind. On the upside, my GoPro caught me peeing on the side of the trail at least twice that day. I have the proof but I won’t post it here. This is a family friendly blog.
As we approached Meyersdale I picked up the pace a bit for two reasons. One, I was being attacked by gnats continually swarming around my face. Second, I wantedto get ahead of Meth Man so he didn’t see us turn off the trail into Meyersdale. Kevin and John quickly caught up to me with no sign of Meth Man. As I waited for them to catch up I checkedthe map for how to get to Yoder’s. We pedaled downhill (because everything off the trail is either uphill or downhill) into downtown Meyersdale where we found Yoder’s, a quint old house in the middle of town.
I wandered about trying to get in the office but the owner wasn’t there. The sign inside the entrance said to call for a room so I did. Turns out, the owner was right around the corner and would be right over. We all sat on the grand porch in comfortable chairs with our bikes leaning against a bike rack in front along the road. From out of nowhere, Meth Man appeared riding down the sidewalk, smoking a cigarette as he rode. My first instinct was to duck hoping he wouldn’t see us but I was caught like a deer in headlights. I just sat there, not moving, trying to not draw attention. John and Kevin were equally stunned. Somehow, he rode right past our bikes and around the corner, pedaling and smoking as he rode off into the sunset. This was the last sighting of Meth Man but we wondered for the rest of the trip if he would reappear.
A woman drove up who turned out to be the owner. She let us into this beautiful old house. We discussed price (which was completely reasonable) and she gave us a tour of the rooms, shared TV room and kitchen. She asked us what we liked for breakfast and offered to pick up whatever we wanted. Wow, she was awesome!!! Best of all, Yoder’s has secured bike parking in the basement of the house. Once the owner showed us to our room, we showered and prepared to do a hard target search for the necessities. By the necessities I mean, food and beer.
The owner informed us of our limited options. The only place to get a beer with food was a place called Take Six. This seemed like a strange name until I realized the genius business concept at work here. Take Six was a restaurant, bar, take-out beer joint. A one-stop shop of sorts. When in Rome, do as the Romans. We ordered food, beers, and grabbed a six-pack of Shiner Bock for the road so we could watch the Wizard’s playoff game in style back at Yoder’s.
The food at Take Six was nothing special but I was hungry from the ride and my burger was completely adequate. Kevin, John, and I ate, drank, and watched the townies commiserate while drinking their beers. This was not a high tourist traffic kind of place. Once we paid our bill and grabbed our beer, we walked across the street to an ice cream place for the messiest ice cream experience of my life. It was terrific but the heat of the evening made it melt faster than I could eat it.
As the sun set, we were all getting tired. We retired to the porch at Yoder’s to drink our beers and watch the happenings of Meyerdale before the Wizard’s game.
Do you want to read about Day 3? Read on now!!!