This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Riv Rally East 2012

   Last weekend was an interesting occasion.  A guy I had never met, Bobby Birmingham, had spent months organizing his second "Riv Rally East."  It was meeting in Cumberland Maryland to spend two days pedaling over the Eastern Continental Divide. Gathering together with a bunch of Rivendell riders for a couple of days of riding and camaraderie sounded like fun, so I latched on.  Since Cumberland is a full 8 hour drive from my home in Michigan, I decided to arrive a day early for safety's sake and stayed at the Ohiopyle campground along the route we'd be riding.  The weather for the drive down was beautiful and I arrived and set up camp on schedule, leaving Friday to roam about the area for a few hours and relax.
   The trail itself is a rail trail winding through the Allegheny mountains along the Youghiogheny River gorge.
It provides some spectacular views,
whitewater for paddling entertainment as well as a variety of wildlife
I wasn't aware that beaver were living this far south but there is the evidence along the trail.
After an afternoon of casual pedaling along the trail north of Ohiopyle, I was ready for the get together to begin.
  After a quiet evening at the campground and an early breakfast I made the drive to Cumberland to meet the others at the trail head.
There was an assemblage of lug work I had never seen in one place before.

Riv's of every vintage and variety around,
and after some brief introductions we were very unceremoniously off
to the mountains.
I think there were 11 at the start, some had come the day before, ridden ahead and planned to meet us in Frostburg along the way. Being a rail trail the grade was quite gentle considering we were climbing to the Continental Divide, an elevation of 2600 ft.  Most of the time, I had no problem keeping up although by the end of the morning, I was feeling the extra weight of the Hunq.  
There were plenty of photo moments to enjoy
 and we reached Frostburg right on time, to send a contingent into town and pick up the rest of the group.
The grade into the business area of Frostburg was, well, pretty damned tough, so the city has built this series of switchbacks to accommodate the cyclists and get them into town.
Pretty soon the contingency was all together, and we were moving about the path getting to know each other for the first time.  It was a happy occasion, with a few fleet footed riders working out as an advance group a way up the road, the rest of us watching out for each other, the breathtaking views
and rather formidable tunnels along the trail.
Although the grade was not that challenging, it was monotonously long and it was very noticeable when we had crossed the divide.  The Hunq, might not be the greatest climbing bike to take to the mountains, but he descends like a champ.  I was in freewheel heaven going down to Confluence where we spent the night.
The weather, which had been threatening all week, finally caught us about two miles from the guest house Bobby had arranged. We made it without a serious problem and set to finding a way to eat and drink for the night.  Pizza and beer sounded right, but in rural Pennsylvania, well you can forget delivery and there was freezing rain outside.  The manager of the Paddler's Rest came to the rescue, with advice for the best pizza deal in town and the keys to his private car to go out and get it.
The house itself was beautifully appointed and restored with room for up to 16 to sleep and 4 full baths.

We were soon munching and drinking ourselves to sleep over the stories we swapped about the places we'd been and bikes we'd bought.  It was cool, nobody here questioned the value of several bikes, it was just a minor controversy to try to agree on how many.  I had been feeling a bit guilty about pre-ordering a new blue Hillborne for my second Riv and 4th real bike.  That guilt was washed away listening to the others and how they explained the basements full to their wives and significant others.  I found we were in the presence of royalty, Tom Allingham was one of the (soon to be) owners of the famous Mystery Bike Grant Peterson was building for himself.  Apparently Tom's wife doesn't know about that one, he was a bit concerned about thinning the herd before she see's it delivered.  
It was clear this group was not bound together by "one ring," 
but a great band of insanity common to us all  had brought us quite comfortably together.
The following morning we planned the final day.  Since nobody was dogmatic about any particular mileage or goals, it was easy to compromise.  We had about 12 miles to get to Ohiopyle and had planned to reach Connersville by 3 when an outfitter would load us up and take us back to our cars in Cumberland.
That idea went off the table pretty quickly because the weather was threatening, I mean for real this time and we decided to make Ohiopyle, and take a few hours exploring the trail north as I had on Friday.
Ohiopyle is a locally famous outfitting post for rafters and kayaks because of the many rapids and falls.  We explored much of the upper trail I had seen on Friday as well as the sights and sounds around town.
Tell me, where have you ever seen a bike ride with so many accessories in one place?
No club or charity ride I have ever seen that's for certain.
We packed up the bikes and hitched a ride from the outfitter to take a grounds tour of a local landmark; Frank Loyd Wright's Fallingwater house.
Probably the best example of his genius, the house was built, not to view a waterfall, but around it and,at one point it even integrates the stream into a lap pool for the owners to enjoy.
It is truly a marvelous place to visit when you have the chance.
The weekend had to come to a close and we caught our ride back to the cars in Cumberland.  
It was sad to have it end, an entire weekend of biking without anybody asking what anything weighed, 
how weird was that?
All in all, it was great time to make new friends who helped (tears and sniffles!) affirm a rather sketchy part of my life.  It's a Granfalloon of epic significance.
I hightailed it back to the campground to crash out early after a burger and beer.
The camp ranger told me the weather that had kept threatening was now imminent and asked if I wanted to upgrade to a cabin.  Being from Michigan, I am geared up for sub-zero weather and didn't plan to do anything but sleep so I just crawled into the tent and didn't remember a thing until I woke to 
I tell you it didn't take long to get out of there, but the roads were ridiculous and it took a full
4 hours of 10mph driving to get through the storm
and out of the mountains.
North and west had remained happily in springtime so it really didn't put a damper on the otherwise memorable weekend.
Bobby has lot's more photos and info on Flickr.



  1. Love it... Every bike has a bag and a kickstand.

  2. I'd love to attend a NW Riv Rally, but I'm not the one to organize it.

  3. Marc, it was a real pleasure meeting you; thanks for making the trek down from Kalamazoo to join us for Riv Rally East 2012. Yeah, we're a pretty chill crowd, and it's such an awesome thing to be in the presence of so many beautiful bikes. I've never seen so many Rivs at once. Hopefully you'll consider bringing a few more folks from Michigan to our next RRE, wherever that is. Until then, Peace!

    Bobby Birmingham
    Lambertville, NJ