Howdy, stranger.I dressed and wandered over to the GI Dayroom. Another mistake I'd made was my packing: I could have brought all manner of clothing and kept it in the car, but my obsession with spartan packing meant I'd inadvertently brought nothing but black warm things to wear on the chilly walk over to the restaurant. It was filled with the local cliques of retired men gossiping in the booths and on the stools at the counter. The lone stranger walks in dressed all in black and every head turned and stared in silence. It was eerie, like something out of a Western movie. Honestly, I don't always dress like Johnny Cash's goth daughter! I smiled and took a booth and hoped they'd resume their chats and after a few seconds, they did. So awkward. Note to self: blend.
I wondered if the spandex-clad who come in clicking their clips along the tiles get the same reaction.
I ordered an egg sandwich and many cups of coffee. There was WiFi here. I was happy.
Jody, my waitress, asked me to sign a guestbook, being a GAP traveler. I took the time to look back at the previous entries and noted all the faroff places people come from to ride the GAP. Very interesting. This was the second guestbook I'd been asked to sign in Meyersdale.
I loaded up the bike and got on the trail to Rockwood. Just outside of Meyersdale I found a small cemetary, and I'm guesssing these are the Meyers that Meyersdale is named for.
There were many more trees on this part of the GAP that were turning. It stood to reason: the maples turn first and Meyersdale is the Maple City. The number of maples here was far greater.
Rockwood and my OCD rears its head.
I reached Rockwood quickly, being only 12 miles from Meyersdale. There was a small manned visitors center there with a cell booster. The gentleman inside helped me figure out the water fountain and take my photo in front of the train sculpture.
|He clearly didn't understand that getting the bike in the shot was uber important.|
Planing to turn around and make it an early day, I felt cheated. I'd come all this way and stayed overnight... I wondered if I could make it to the Pinkerton Tunnel and I asked him how far away it was. He told me 8 miles. This would turn my 24 mile day into a 40 mile day. I could do this.
If I didn't, there would be a gap in my GAP map... a part of the trail I hadn't completed when I was so close. The obsessive compulsive side of me yelled: "Do it! You can't leave that section unfinished!"
I headed West and made it to the side of the Pinkerton tunnel I hadn't seen. I visited the other side a few weeks ago.
OK, if I turn around now, that'll be 40 miles for the day. Wait, the Bypass! I HAVE to ride the Bypass, I can't leave that unridden! Two miles later, I reached the other side of the tunnel. There, I did it. My obsessive side sighed contentedly.
I noticed this bit of pay-it-forwardness along the trail. Very nice.
Seeing myself as others see me
In my travels, I find that many were asking me: "Traveling alone?" or "With a group?".
I encountered today something I don't recall seeing before today: a lone female cyclist. She had lots of gear and stopped frequently to take photos. She stood out in stark contrast amongst all the other parties I saw: couples, groups or single men.
When I first encountered her, my first thought was: "She's alone."
Not: "Nice panniers."
Not: "Love the way she braided her hair." or "Awesome bike."
My first thought was she was out here, by herself. It dawned on me: this was probably everyone else's first impressions of me. Did they think I was vulnerable? Lonely? Left behind by her party? A target? I never had those thoughts whenever I saw a lone male rider. I never gave that a second thought.
It left me with some discontent.
The final stretch with another Trucker
Along the way back, I played leapfrog with a group of 5 or 6 heading to DC. They were heavily laden, one of the bikes being a Xtracycle cargo stacked high with supplies. I liked seeing this. One of them told me: "You look like you know what you're doing!" I told her I had her fooled.
One in the party had a disc Trucker. I parked Fizz next to it when I returned to Meyersdale.
|Green Trucker meets yellow Trucker|
44 miles, a good day.
After getting back into Pittsburgh, I dropped Fizz off at Thick for a new saddle and front rack as well as a tune up. I'd have to use Ruby for a while.
Grabbed a new patch for my top tube pad:
And here's the map of my GAP progress after this weekend:
|I should have more sections filled in before winter arrives.|