An Epic Ride: Part 2- to Rockwood

Dawson River Guest House
Day 2
Dawson, PA to Rockwood, PA
53.51 miles
110.14 miles from start

The GAP Trail, which was made from a former set of railways, parallels the current CSX Railroad line. Throughout our ride, we could hear the train clacking on the rails and its whistle sounding shrilly to announce its presence. The trains traveled even in the middle of the night, which meant we’d hear them wherever we stayed.

At our first lodging in Dawson, the trains were only a few yards away. This photo was taken from the walkway to the house. I could have sworn the train cars were barreling through my bedroom. I didn’t sleep too well that night.

The skies were overcast when we woke up. The forecast called for rain, clearing up in the late morning. At first, we thought we could wait for the rain to pass, but it got to the point where we needed to head out, or else it would be dark before we got to our next destination. We all had bike lights, but we preferred to travel during the day whenever possible. With some reluctance, we tidied the place, got our stuff together, and headed out into the drizzling rain.

Stained glass arch, Connellsville
When we got to Connellsville, we met up with a trail volunteer, who was counting bicyclists on the trail for the monthly statistics. We chatted for a while, and then asked him for suggestions on where we could get some breakfast. He suggested the Valley Dairy Restaurant.

Valley Dairy Restaurant, Connellsville
Coffeeneuring Stop #2
Valley Dairy Restaurant
Connellsville, PA
Monday, October 7, 2013 (using the furlough rule)
Hot tea with breakfast
4.48 miles from Dawson River Guest House

As we walked in, another bicyclist walked out. Steve chatted with her and found out that she was a college student heading back to Pittsburgh to make it in time for her class. She looked chilled and wet from the rain, as I’m sure we did.

Steve and Nathan were in need of good coffee. We all seemed pretty famished and ate big breakfasts. The waitress was insistent that we enter the drawing for free ice cream for a year. I was the only one who filled out a ballot. Who am I to say no to free ice cream? I drew the line at stuffing the ballot box, though.

Satisfied with our meals, we headed back out in the rain, and I was soon to curse myself for the food choices I made. I quickly learned that tasty bacon was not my friend– a really bad case of heartburn plagued me for several miles, and no amount of Tums seemed to squelch it. I suffered the pain in silence and kept to the back of our pack. Fortunately for us, the rain dissipated, and we were treated to a beautiful sunny view of the Youghiogheny River.

Youghiogheny River, Ohiopyle
We met up with a man and his son who were traveling in the same direction we were. They had a trailer full of camping gear. We would see them repeatedly throughout our trip, but they weren’t terribly chatty. We took a short break at Ohiopyle and got a snack. Nathan and I split a pumpkin roll– delicious.

We stopped next at Confluence, PA. I think we were a little worn out by this point. Steve and David went to look for lunch, but many of the shops were closed on Monday, so they opted to get food from the gas station convenience store. Jane, Nathan, and I went to Confluence Cyclery. I chatted with the shop owner, an ex-DC retiree who moved out to the quiet town. He offered the use of his garden hose to wash the limestone grit from the trail that had accumulated on our bikes like wet concrete. We cleaned our bikes, and Nathan asked to get his rear wheel trued. Once we regrouped, we thanked the owner, and set out on the last leg of the day’s ride.

We rode the detour around the Pinkerton Tunnel. My heartburn finally gone, I got my second wind and sprinted my way to Rockwood, just because I was feeling good. Steve was not far behind. It was just starting to get dark. While we were waiting for the rest of the group, Steve and I saw a couple of cats near some trees just off the trail. We then saw a woman come out of her car in the parking lot. She carried a plastic bag, and as she walked past us, she said, “You didn’t see me, and you can’t identify me anyway.” She then walked toward the trees, did something I couldn’t see, and then walked away on the trail– without the bag.

Steve and I looked at each other, puzzled. What just happened here? When the others caught up to us, we relayed what we saw. We didn’t muse for long– Jane was starving and urged us to find a burger place, stat! We ended up checking in at the rental house first, then heading out to the Rockwood Mill Shoppes and Opera House. No burgers to be found, sadly, but there were pizza and sandwiches.

We returned to the Husky Haven Campground house. We did our laundry, checked email from the house computer, played some pool, and fiddled with bikes before turning in for the night.

4 thoughts on “An Epic Ride: Part 2- to Rockwood

  1. I’m enjoying the series on your trip. The GAP and C&O are are wonderful adventure. Confluence cyclery is a really nice shop. We stopped in there on our trip on the GAP.

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