I ride out of Thomas and up the windy road a few miles to Davis. The elevated sidewalks are pretty empty for a Saturday afternoon. I roll past the Shop n’ Save on the edge of town and cross the bridge onto the dirt road that borders the Black Water River. Muted, far-off thunder booms.
Time to find a spot to camp. Up and down the road, scanning the woods. The thunder rumbles again. Man, I better find a spot quick. I scamper into the woods. This place is full of rocks. Damn. I wish I would have brought my hammock. I find a little crack between two boulders, string my tarp and blow up my sleeping pad.
I’m swarmed by mosquitoes. I swat my face and arms. They keep swarming. I need to go get some chemicals to repel these little bastards. I crash back through the weeds and onto the road, and ride back to the Shop n’ Save to get bug spray, a bomber of Torpedo, and a coffee cake.
On the way back, I walk down to the river to wash off. The water is deep orange. I cup some into my hands, it looks like iodine. I wonder if I should bathe in this stuff. Well, it’ll probably be alright. I soap up.
The storm hasn’t started yet, so maybe I can find a better camping spot. I roll up all my stuff and ride farther down the road. A few miles in, there’s a nice clearing by the river. I reset my campsite, read until the sun sets, then go to sleep.
A mosquito buzzes in my ear. I slap it. It buzzes again. I crush it against my head. Silence for a few minutes. The buzz comes back. Christ. I’m covered in deet you little beasts, leave me alone. I pull a t-shirt over my face and pass out.
I crawl out of the tarp the next morning, and into a big mass of poison ivy. That’s fantastic. I guess I’ll find out if I’m still immune to the stuff in the next few days. I repack my bike, and roll back into town to the Bright Morning Inn for breakfast. I eat a big stack of banana-walnut-blueberry-pancakes with thick cut bacon, drink four cups of coffee, then head back towards Thomas, and on to Ohiopyle.
Since my phone is out of battery, and I can’t navigate on all the confusing back West Virginia trail roads, I decide to take the more straightforward route through Oakland, Deep Creek, and Friendsville, Maryland.
I coast down out of Tucker County. Into the rolling farmland and red roads in Maryland. I’m spinning my highest gear, making great time. A green Subaru honks wildly, swings around, and pulls onto the shoulder in front of me. Old Man Shogren jumps out of the car.
“Hey, where are you going, there’s a race that way!” he wheezes, and points back toward Davis.
“I know it. I just didn’t want to pay another entry fee since I was already registered for nationals,” I say.
“Well anyway, I have to go. Running late. Have a swell ride,” he says, jumps back into the car, and flips back around to go race. Funny old man.
I cruise through Deep Creek, up a climb then steep descent to Friendsville, then up another hill to Markleysburg. I start toward Confluence, the closest town to Ohiopyle. The road pitches up steeply, I shift into my lowest gear. I’m starting to lose energy now, I’ve come 60 miles on two bottles and one cliff bar.
Up, up, up. The road finally levels out at an old church. I pull off the road. I could climb up another 1000 feet over Sugarloaf Knob, then descend all the way back to Ohiopyle, or I could drop into Confluence, get a burger, then roll back into town on the Great Allegheny Passage Trail.
Hell, I’ll just take the mountain. It’ll be five miles shorter. I pedal a hundred feet up the road. Nope. Out of gas. I turn around and coast down the hill to the Lucky Dog Café.
After a really excellent burger, I roll onto the GAP Trail, and burn the last 12 miles into town. I stop in the bike shack that I work in, talk to the guys for a couple minutes about how scary the rail trail is with all the sketchy once-a-year bike riders, then pull off my soggy shoes.
That was a great little mini tour. 151 miles total, a ton of climbing, and lots of time in the saddle. I’ll have to do some more of those.