By: Nancy Latimer, Volunteer Trip Leader
Well the poster children for Venture Outdoors have continued their adventures. Last year I wrote about how Nancy and I had started hiking with Venture Outdoors years ago and we progressed to completing a week-long backcountry backpacking trip at the Grand Canyon. Well after a foot injury sidelined me for hiking we took up biking. Venture Outdoors to the rescue again with local bike trips including the riverfront trails, segments of the Great Allegheny Passage, and bike clinics to help us with basic repairs. We trained all spring and in June completed the 335+ mile ride from Pittsburgh to DC on the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) and the C&O Towpath.
It was an amazing adventure and a huge sense of accomplishment. We biked 40 to 60 miles a day and stayed at bed and breakfasts and hostels along the way. We met wonderful people on the trail including groups we dubbed the three amigos, the Canadians, and the scouts. We crossed paths at meals, lodgings, and along the trails. We swapped biking stories and felt like old friends by the end of the week.
The GAP sections are in fantastic shape and the scenery was gorgeous. The C&O Towpath is rough riding, but equally scenic. We had some rain the first day, but were blessed with clear skies while riding for the rest of the trip.
Rain and storms hit overnight while we were safely tucked in our beds, but we were still impacted by them. Our second day out of Connellsville to Ohiopyle we traversed 10 downed trees including some we had to take off all our packs, climb through the branches, and lift the bikes over our heads over the tree trunk to the other side. That section was all uphill so even though the grade was slight, it was a tiring day with all the bike lifting. That was something we certainly hadn’t planned for, but was all part of the adventure.
The best day was the third day from Rockwood to Cumberland. We had 20 miles uphill followed by 20 miles downhill, coasting at 15 mph! It was the day of scenic views and the Eastern Continental Divide and the Mason Dixon Line.
A storm hit our last night in Harpers Ferry and the trail took a beating. The next day to DC we were a muddy mess from the overnight rain and the puddles on the trail. Thank goodness for the water pumps at the trailside campsites for a thorough scrubbing of bodies and bikes.
Venture Outdoors has certainly achieved its goal of getting people outside with us. Thanks VO! We couldn’t have done it without you.
Check out some upcoming rides with Venture Outdoors that are part of Bike Pittsburgh’s BikeFest coming up August 21-30:
August 22 – Bike Fishing on the Yough
August 22 – Riverfront Trail Ride
August 30 – Braddock to Pittsburgh Pedal Paddle