Sunday, November 10, 2013

Winter Biking in Autumn

It's been a whirlwind of shows, travel, work and fun and my reward for working so hard this fall season was to bike 100 miles with 4 girlfriends (Macee, Bev, Dorie and Sue) in the rain and snow with temperatures in the 20's and 30's. I had arranged this trip back in July and was really looking forward to biking and camping on the Allegany Passage Trail in Pennsylvania and Maryland. 

As te time got closer, I saw that a cold front was moving in for the 3 days we were to be on the trail. Rain and snow and freezing temps were forecast so we made the decision not to camp. It's not fun crawling into a tent at 7:00 at night, not even able to sit by a campfire because of the rain. And we really like to just hang out at night, drinking wine and catching up and talking about how gorgeous the day was and how much fun we are having. We had our friend, Don, drop us off in Connellsville, Pa. It was cold and rainy, but it didn't dampen our spirits. We had come prepared.

We booked places to stay for the two nights we were out, instead of camping. One was a huge house in Confluence with big comfy beds, a massive stone fireplace, large dining room and hot showers. There were no places open to eat so we rode on over to the grocery store and got dinner to bring back to the house. We went to the local bike shop so some of us could buy more warm gear and asked the owner where we could find some wine. He called Miss Sandy and she opened the little wine shop behind her house for us. We procured 4 bottles of wine, loaded them into our panniers and off we went for a warm night of fun.

I was surprised how much color was still on the trees this far north and up in the Laurel Highlands.

Coming into Ohiopyle, I always love biking over the Youghiogheny River on this bridge. 

I love this part of the bike trail. It's like backpacking, but much faster and not as hard on the back.

As this is a rail to trail, there are a lot of bridges. I love the ironwork on this one.

There are also a lot of barns. I didn't take photos of many of them as it was quite a chore to stop, take off my long gloves, get out my camera, then pedal fast to catch up to the others.

This is a particular nice section of the trail. Rhododendrons, hemlocks, rock outcroppings and even a few little waterfalls.

and of course the autumn leaves

Macee, all geared up, ready to go. Macee recently got into biking in a big way. I love it when someone finds that spark and lights up when on a bike. 

Sometimes my camera took photos I didn't know about.

Day two of the trip was cold and windy with little snow flurries. Some areas nearby had gotten an inch of new snow, but our trail was clear of snow. Good thing because we don't have snow tires on our bikes. We had a nice day of biking and pulled into Meyersdale by about 3:00 to find our lodging for the night. Sue had booked this place and she told me where it was, at the bottom of the hill to the right. I was the first to arrive and was really disappointed when I saw the ugly green two story motel with old furniture on the porch and a hand painted sheet sign hanging from the balcony.  I said, "I don't even like meth and I hope we're not staying here!" When we all arrived and were sadly looking at the place, we turned around and there on the other side of the street was the Youghiogheny House, a grand old house with our rooms awaiting us. Phew! But as Mrs. Yoder opened up the front foyer, I saw what looked like a bordello from the 60's. Screaming red shabby carpet, ugly paneled walls and gaudy furniture. We had two rooms for the night and Sue and I chose the room on the front, which was actually an enclosed porch, with the front door opening into the bathroom! The others were up two flights in a mix-mush of a room. Since Sue and I were out on the porch, we didn't have a key to the main door and knocked to get let in to have happy hour with the other girls. A young man in just his underwear and a tie let us in. Maybe the meth place across the street was better!

We found this fabulous plate to eat, The Morguen Toole Company. It's all industrial vintage and the food was great. They also have a hotel/hostel on the top two floors but we thought they were closed so didn't book there. Too bad because it would have been wayyyyyy better than the bordello. 
The third day was the coldest, starting out at 24 degrees and snow flurries. If I had been at home and looked out the window at the snow and wind, I would not have said, "Looks like a great day for a bike ride!" But when you are all bundled up, with the panniers on the bikes and you start pedaling, the smile  starts at the corners of your mouth and you are glad to be on your bike, no matter the weather. We had a wonderful time and are already planning a spring trip. Who wants to go?!