Here are a couple of rides that I enjoyed. One thing I hope you get from this is that great rides are often right out your door. You don’t need to pay an entry fee to have a splendid time on your bike.
Mind the GAP: The Great Allegheny Passage is a trail that runs from Cumberland MD almost all the way to Pittsburgh. I’ve done most of it twice and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Actually, circumstances have conspired so that I’ve never done the whole thing in one go. My most ambitious attempt predated the opening of the section of the trail from Cumberland to Meyersdale PA. So I did some seriously steep hill climbing instead. A few years later, my daughter attended basketball camp in Frostburg. I used the pick up and drop off as an excuse to fill in the gaps (so to speak). The trail is crushed limestone and can be ridden on a hybrid bike. I have used both my recumbent and my Bike Friday folder and they did just fine. What makes the ride so nice is the variety. From Cumberland to Frostburg the trail runs alongside a train line that has a coal fired excursion train. There are several tunnels from Cumberland to Meyersdale. I was shocked at how hard it is to ride in the dark of a tunnel. The panoramic views of the Laurel Highlands, also known as the Pennsylvania Dutch Alps, made me stop and gawk. I also stopped to take in the Eastern Continental Divide west of Frostburg. It makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something grand when you pass over it. The Garrett Wind Farm is a series of immense white wind turbines on a ridge looming over the trail. Every time I see those slow turning arms I feel like aliens have arrived. Quick somebody call Gene Barry! The Salsbury Viaduct is a laughably long railroad bridge over a valley. There are more trestles ahead with views over mountain rivers with fly fishermen way down below. The town of Ohiopyle located in Ohiopyle State Park is small and funky. Kayakers, tubers, fishermen, cyclists and tourist headed for Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece Fallingwater all mingle here. Along the trail, you’ll see wild turkey and deer and all kinds of other wildlife too as you ride through a tunnel of green. The GAP is an east coast gem.
New England Kettle Ponds: Back when I was starving student, the city of Boston on a hot summer day felt like a prison. Having air conditioning was rare. Fortunately, when my sister finished at BU that spring, she left me her Peugeot racing bike with a warped rear wheel. My roommate John and I got the inane idea to ride 20 miles to Walden Pond to go swimming. Other than the fact that the wheel kept rubbing the brakes, the ride was a great adventure. Walden is a kettle pond. It has warm water on the surface, down to about your chest, below that is ice water! Like the bike with the rubbing wheel, the roads to Walden left a lot to be desired back then (now there are rail trails out that-a-way). I scared my friend Becca half to death on one trip. I wised up after a while. I bought a Raleigh Grand Prix that had two true wheels and, as a bonus, a frame that actually fit me. (Bike fit? What the hell did I know?) We later learned of another kettle pond called Farm Pond in Sherburne Mass. At that point, we had access to a car, but the town wouldn’t let outsiders park at the pond. Bikes to the rescue! Farm Pond was ours. I continued to ride to kettle ponds after I moved to Providence. They made for great destinations on hot summer days.
And there’s more where that came from…