Life and adventures from a high school perspective
An avid cyclist, rock climber, and all around adventurer, Francis Davis is taking to the internet to share his stories of cycling, climbing, and adventuring.
I’m too tired to update you today! 90 miles in the saddle, and a humid night camping render a tired Francis. It’s another big day in tokorrow, than D.C. on Saturday.
Today’s journey can be broken into three distinct parts. Overall the day went really well - we both felt a lot stronger than the day before.
Part 1: Of course, we managed to turn an early wake up into a less early departure. Cold, cheesy, leftover pizza was for breakfast. Nevertheless, it was a promising start to the day. It was between 40-45 degrees when we up, and colder during the night. I was fortunate to be warm enough this time, remembering the last time I camped there I was much, much colder.
The trail was dry and fast in the morning, falling just next to the river. The suns rays hit the flowing water, even as the trail was shaded by foliage. The surface of the water shimmered and gleamed under the suns rays; I felt this same energy in myself: bright-eyed, excited for the day to come. It was about 20 miles from Connellsville to Ohiopyle, and we had 11:30 tickets to see Falling Water! The excitement for that kept the fire alive long enough in my legs to get to Ohiopyle quickly.
Part 2: It’s always cool for me biking back over trodden ground, seeing the same sights in a different way: different season, time of the day, and / or mental disposition. Riding into Ohiopyle evoked this feeling. I remembered the last time I rode over the river at about 8:00 AM on my last trip. It was a cold morning, the sky a dull steel. I sought refuge and a cup of coffee at the diner, and continued on my way. This time was different. We were rushed, it was a four mile bike ride to get to Falling Water, and we needed time before the tour started to disguise ourselves as regular, clean people. What we didn’t anticipate was a three mile, brutal uphill to get to Falling Water. It was really hard, hot, and sweaty. We both walked most of the way. Falling Water felt like a well-won victory, and a fantastic break from the biking routine. It’s going to places like this that validate bicycle touring - seeing all kinds of cool places in a cool way. Back in town, it was hamburgers for lunch and back onto the trail.
Part 3: The afternoon quickly took on a different tone than the morning. I was moving slower, but no less determined. The riding got a bit monotonous, following the same gravel trail all day has its demerits. There were points where the trail broke away from the river, carving through craggy corridors and lush forest - that was pretty cool. Listening to Paul Simon helped me make the most of the day. As afternoon turned into early evening, we neared our destination, a hostel in Rockwood. We also butted up against the river again. As the sun dipped lower, its rays again cast onto the water, the same shiny surface developing, the undulations of the water muted by the metallic lacquer on top. The light in my eyes was dimmer than it was in the morning, but the intensity remained the same.
This was the first day of my second time biking from Pittsburgh to D.C. on the GAP and C&O trails. I’m traveling with my friend Matt Dierker.
The pain of the day was in equal measure comeuppance, enjoyment, and cautionary. The cost of failing to prepare for a bike trip of this magnitude were evident as my legs gelatinized and my butt chafed. The scenery of the day was spectacular, made all the better by the scenes that remained the same from two ears ago when I did this trip, prompting glimmers of fond memories from my Freshman attempt of the trail.
Today, there was no snow on the ground. The dry crushed limestone provides a soothing monotone under tire as I cruised onwards. 62.5 miles of cruising, to be precise. After the first 25 I started to feel it in my legs. Soreness and pain developing way quicker than I anticipated - the cost of doing a trip like this off the couch. I anticipate that I’ll strengthen over the coming days; that gives me hope. Now I must succumb to sleep, my weary body sinking into the sleeping pad.
Don'As the semester winds down, my eye is placed keenly towards this summer's work. There are many interesting endeavours this summer, but I am going to highlight the second moped, my first motorcycle, and my internship at Skidmark Garage in downtown Cleveland.
Moped #2: a 1980 blue Motobecane, deluxe edition. One year younger than my first, 1981 Motobecane. This one is a group project, me and my friend Matt Dierker are stripping everything down to the frame, cleaning everything, and thinking about some mild performance mods with the engine. It's going to be a lot of fun. It's fantastic that I know a lot about these bikes now, having spent countless hours on my first. Everything seems to be going more efficiently, and with a greater degree of confidence. Don't worry, we will start to mess up at some point.
Bridgestone Motorcycle: a 1971 200cc Bridgestone motorcycle. Somewhat rare. Dierker found this one on Facebook Marketplace, the seller wanted $100. As the price indicates, this bike needs an extensive amount of work. I don't even know where to begin. But that's why we're doing this project at Skidmark garage.
Skidmark garage is a community motorcycle garage in an old Cleveland warehouse, supposedly one out of forty such garages in the world. The concept is simple, members pay a monthly or yearly fee in exchange for access to tools, welders, metal benders, and most importantly, community. Skidmark is a gathering place for people with varying degrees of experience to gather, work on projects, and get their hands dirty.
Skidmark is a gruff, no B.S. work environment. The floors are greasy, and the occasional patches of sawdust indicate past oil / gas spills. It's well lit but dark in the corners. And the smells of degreaser, exhaust, and 20th century warehouse perfuse the air. I couldn't think of a better place to spend the summer. In exchange for about sixteen hours a month or more, I am benefitting from a free membership.
The people are interesting too, and that is the biggest reason to be at the garage. Being in a sea of knowledge instead of dithering about by yourself is really fantastic. Of course there is still room to mess up and fix stuff on your own, but it's really fantastic to know that the safety net exists. Last night my friend Matt and I were tearing down the moped. An older gentleman wearing a scraggly beard, camouflage MAGA hat, and the odor of cigarettes came over to compliment us on the project. He said that his cousin used to race 50cc mopeds in Europe - crazy stuff. It was a great interaction and I am excited to have many more of them!