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.

Friday, April 17, 2015

GAP/CO summarized and fear unrealized

    I think the experience of choosing to cycle provides an opportunity for one to be an active participant in both the geography and culture of places.  As Hemingway said, on a bicycle "you develop a better feel having to sweat up the hills and coast down them" but  you also participate in the climate and aroma the geography developed.  As a result one has a sense of traveling through rather than past a place.
  One thing bothered me about the the GAP/CO trip, not just leaving my car in Pittsburgh, but returning to get it since Amtrak arrives at midnight.  I was returning on Friday.  So I looked forward to arriving, getting my bike from baggage, reassembling it, loading it and then riding through the heart of the city at 2 AM Saturday morning.  It not only sounded inconvenient, maybe stupid and not even vaguely safe.
   I was wrong.  After removing my tightly packed Hunqapillar

 and reassembling all the necessary parts.  
The streets of Pittsburgh looked less than threatening.  Except for a couple female cops on foot,
 I  had them to myself until I reached the GAP trail. 
 I was apprehensive at that point.  City MUP's are notorious places for disadvantaged, dislodged and disreputable characters. None were found.  I coasted along the well maintained "Steel Valley" trail section through rail yards, and past industrial concerns without a problem.  Many of these places might look foreboding to another, but I was raised in a railroad town, worked 12 years for one of the largest and was familiar with industrial landscape.  These places are lit up and locked up like Fort Knox. There was nothing to do but admire an unusual glimpse into the working guts of a great industrial city.  There are a few artistic renderings developed to reflect it,
 but I liked the functional symmetry.
   My car, 16 miles from the train station, was just as I had left it.  I reloaded and went on my way, drove a couple of hours at a time and napped at rest stops until I got home.
   The trip cost me $50 in gas, $25 in toll charges, $70 in Amtrak costs, $10 in campsite fees plus food.  I  don't count food as a traveling expense, I do expect to eat wherever I am.
   As I mentioned in an earlier post, this is a real confidence builder for somebody attempting cyclo-touring for the first time.  I'd suggest checking with the shop in Cumberland, set up livery service and ride the CO to or from Washington for a trip.  What I did was easy but the CO trail is really a nice ride without many challenges for a novice.


  1. Hi Marc -- this is dwrz from bikeforums -- I don't have the post count to reply to your PM. Just wanted to thank you for the links -- very helpful and interesting reads. Also, love the opening paragraphs on the site.

    I'll definitely keep my eye out for that last stretch of the C&O, and have a stock of food ready.

    If you have any other insight or advice, please let me know.

    Thanks again,

  2. I always find it scary to ride through cities despite living and riding daily in a really big one for years. I think it comes down to familiarity. If you've had multiple consecutive good experiences in a city you are more likely to have a good emotional response to it.

    See ya on the road!


    1. I have to say that Pittsburgh was a delightful surprise, especially riding through it on the trails at night!