The alarm went off early. I was already half awake from the suns orange rays shining through the window, not to mention the constant trains passing by. We packed quickly, but not too quickly. Breakfast, we both agreed, for the first time, was to be one of four oatmeal rations that we had packed for the trip. The stove was set up, the water measured, and the bags packed. “Where’s the lighter?” Matt asked. I looked back at him sheepishly, already knowing that we were going out again for breakfast. The result: the finest $2 Pennsylvania gas station sandwiches that I’d ever had. I guess that’s not entire true. I ate 3. Six dollars.
We were both looking forward to this day’s ride: about 20 more miles of a mild uphill gradient until we hit the Eastern Continental Divide, and then a relative plummet into Maryland, losing all of the elevation that we had gained over the last days. In the first 20 miles we met a retired veteran who claimed to be the first Navy S.E.A.L. Interesting. He wanted to tell his story, and had found a captive audience in cyclists on the GAP looking for a break from the gravel grind. We continued on, mindful of time, and the 20 miles of downhill easy pedaling was rewarding. We plunged towards Cumberland.
After Cumberland the plan was to push on about 15 more miles to a primitive hiker-biker campground on the C&O (Chesapeake and Ohio) Canal trail, the second and final trail that we were to take into D.C. That 15 miles never happened, but we did make it to Cumberland, deciding quite nicely on a place called “Queen City Creamery” for lunch. Good call.
Deli sandwich, peanut butter milkshake, cafe au lait, and cinnamon roll. One of the upshots of spending so much time biking is being able to eat four full meals a day, plus snacks, with absolutely no inhibitions and no poor effects. As we were eating lunch, the rain started.
Earlier in the morning, a more optimistic cycling duo had planned to don rain attire, and grin our way through the rain. 44 miles in, the desire had evaporated. Matt was having some mild knee issues, and we were both sore, achy, tired. The decision was made that a shower and bed for the night would be the best course of action. We were fortunate to find a nice AirBnB in Cumberland to lay our heads for the night. Another good call.
The hosts, Daniel and Donae were beyond welcoming. They were travelers too. Europe, Asia, and North America extensively. As interested as we were in talking to them, the siren call of the pillow would have been foolish to ignore. I started with an hour-long nap. Then I decided to bike the mile back into town to pick up some zucchini to compliment our freeze dried dinner. With full stomachs, we headed to bed in preparation for tomorrow’s unshifting miles plus the 15 that we had neglected that day.