Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Upper Sandusky, Oh - Fort Wayne, In

123 miles - Total: 637 miles

I had to tough it out today. The route was as flat as a pancake but the usual cyclist's foe, uninvited and unwelcomed, joined the proceedings: the wind. And of course a headwind at that. I do not know whether it's today's headwind or 623 miles that are putting a little dent into my performance but something is because today for the first time I questioned the whole project. Of course my hubris, my determination and the collective financial and psychological support for the cause will see me through this... or will it? This bike ride ain't a walk in the park (What a stupid thing to write but I suppose I am not able to accurately describe the hardships). If I was sore, I wouldn't tell you. I am a little stiff in the legs and the neck but a good warm bath and a monumental meal will put me straight.

Today's route provided the most solitary ride of the journey so far. And the most rural. I passed by several farms and farm houses and hundreds of glowing corn fields. I cycled on the trusted Lincoln Highway almost all day and almost all by myself, save for a few cars and many farm tractors in different size, shape and color. Pure rural milieu again, several small towns that offered me much needed sugary drinks and all sorts of assorted chow choices, a few conventional conversations with locals here and there, wind mills, wind farms and wind turbines and just lots of wind. Wind turbines pepper Western Ohio and like Don Quixote as I caught a glimpse of menacing shapes along the line of the horizon I fought against an imaginary enemy. I powered through the 123 miles with one comforting thought in my mind: let's do this for the fund raising and for those who would like to bike a little but cannot find the strength to do it. I am talking to you, if you reading this, mark my words, when I come back I will go cycling with you, let's do just a few miles, let's shake our legs.

After my super size breakfast I hit the road at 9am and it doesn't take long for the sun to rise high in the sky. In the process of morning shifting to day the colors turn less dramatic and the world seems less interesting. I do find it interesting and pretty with its perfectly trimmed fields and empty scenic country roads and a cloudy sky above and all those elements that you would wonder at if you rode in rural nowhere until my care-free ride turns into a dramatic affair. Let's focus on the wind effect for a minute. It beats you down mentally, it wears you out like a rock gets sculpted by penetrating water. I do not think that there is anything more frustrating than riding into a persistent headwind. I wish I knew how to cheat it but I guess there isn't much to do except than to bow your head, keep your body low and loose, don't start bobbing, relax your face and neck and go into it. Today was tough but conditions weren't as blustery as two years ago in Kansas. Out West the wind is the boss. If I ever get to Minnesota, Montana, etc.. I will have to mentally prepare myself for some heavy headwinds. I can't think of that now.

So I ride and ride all day among the green Ohio before I cross the Indiana state line well into the afternoon. Fort Wayne is the biggest town since Pittsburgh and I did not enjoy the 20 miles or so through urban traffic. Locating a hotel can be a challenging exercise. When I plan my day, I usually set my sights on a fairly big town which is sure to have at least a couple of motels and a handful of fast food restaurants. You can't miss them because they come as a package; wherever they built a hotel they have also erected a fast food restaurant, with a sign higher than any other buildings or church towers in the city. In other words, the trademark sign of a city is always the same, the big M sign or Taco or BK logos or other similar alternatives. So you may say that unless you venture into the historic districts, all the medium-size cities are alike. For the average European tourist this might be particularly upsetting. But I guess if you are a fan of tradition and reference points, you know when you are home. It's safe. These are places that have been designed for the nomadic existence of the highway travelers, from the truck drivers to the drifters, they all go to different places but they all stop in the same places. America is vast geographically but provides a 'comfort zone' for those who must drive for a living. So back to my quest for a room, as I approach a town all I have to do is locate the Mc Donald's sign which towers high above the roofs and hills and I know that a bed and shower are within walking distance. The fast food offers an instant gratification of the belly, which I quite don't mind as some cheeseburgers are pure heaven but the good ones are difficult to find. The ones that sprung up on the outskirts of highway towns are lame. I know that piles of books have been written about America's fast food culture. My current experience on the bicycle leads me to think that the infrastructure which provides fast food is above all rational, functional, convenient and heavily used by America's commuters. Billions served, so they say..get your fix and move on.

After my long ride today, at around 7.30 pm I was in a total mess with sunpaste and sweat that only a shower by the deprtment of sanitation would have gotten rid of the dirtness and soil on my legs and arms and clothes. I soaked in the water forever and then I went hunting for a hot meal. I manage to find a juicy steak, with assorted goodies such as potatoes, vegetables and sour cream. I am stuffed and as I get up to leave I can hardly move my legs. It's like my muscles solidified and became one with the chair while I ate. I unglued them from the seat and I dragged my sorry body to the exit. The patrons stare at my wobbly gait thinking probably that I must be drunk. Well guys I ain't; I just chewed up 123 miles in a headwind and I have 600+ miles in my legs. Not only that my fellow American eaters: I also have an amazing support from far and wide that so far amounts to 15 thousand dollars for cancer research and humbling generosity of so many people. Take that you cancer! I can hardly keep my eyes open, I look at my bed like a kid who's been punished would stare at an ice-cream. I am exhausted. Will I able to ride tomorrow? Maybe not but if I do..dare I say it? Tomorrow night I could be on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan...I must be dreaming already. Let's put those doubts aside and let's ride another day.

Lake Michigan...I must be dreaming already.

First photo of the day, the terrain is flat and it is windless out there...not for long though

Typical scenery from today's ride 

Here's another one 

An old oil and auto parts store along LH, unused and rusting under the sun 

 Trucks in line to get gas

During one of my many pit stops

 A corn field in Ohio

 In this grocery store you don't even have to get out of your car, why waste the calories?

 Ohio road

 and another one

 An empty drive-in along LH

Van Wert, Oh

Ohio sky 

I look like hell but it is all because of the wind...

 The menacing wind turbines

 Entering Indiana!! The sign is a bit anticlimatic but crossing into my 6th state is a great mental boost

Fort Wayne, downtown

Monday, July 30, 2012


Canton, Oh - Upper Sandusky, Oh

101 miles - Total: 514 miles

Another 100-mile day under a baking sun in the heart of rural Ohio; I left Washington DC in a hurry and I am attacking Ohio with restlessness; my wheels are spinning fast in small-town America. Among wooden barns, auto dealerships, barking dogs and corn fields I make my way across this vast state which is the prelude to the Midwest. A long way to go of course but I am making progress. I am more than halfway to Chicago. The ride has been very good today, especially in the afternoon where I was allowed to test my speed and, for a few miles, I hammered it. It has been a day of two halves. In the morning I was in the middle of the usual hills roller coaster but past Mansfield it became almost pancake flat. Today I even had the distinct pleasure to hit the Obama's campaign trail. The big man is coming to Mansfield in two days to rally people's confidence and shore up votes come November mid-term elections.  
The morning starts hot and windless with a burning sun as I leave the hotel at the late hour of 10am. The bicycle is the best mean of transportation to see the geological change. From Pennsylvania to Ohio I can appreciate the gradual geological shift. The steep, rocky, coal-filled mountainsides give way to rolling hills covered in grass that glows a brilliant green in the morning sun. I love the rollers that sit close together, where I can fly down one side and let my speed carry me up the other. I curse the steep ones that rise from the flats and force me to inch my way up in granny gear through the hot and sticky air extolling a hefty physical prize out of my body. But I do like the strain that the hill presents, I don't mind to sit up on the pedals, pretending that I am in the lead of the race sprinting away from the peloton. I am having fun, I let my mind wonder, I listen to my body and I let my legs spin. I am finding out how my body is reacting to the strain and whether the recent chemotherapy that weakened my system has finally rebooted the machine. Some corrupted files have been interfering with it but since the start of the ride I have not detected any symptoms of a "virus". 

I am aware that if I am making progress and keeping up with the schedule is due to the level of fundraising, today coming up to 10 thousand dollars. This loud statement of solidarity discourages any attack to my system. I am very proud of the amount that has been raised so far; the money is going to research to fight and cure leukemia and blood-related cancers. Honestly, I feel I am doing something bigger than me, it is way bigger than me. The ride might be a silly thing but this cause is bigger than any single human being alone. It is humbling and scary at the same time. Access to health care, good health care is a human right and everyone should have it. Without insurance people die. This wrong must be corrected. Fighting for this should come as collective response shown by the good heart of human beings coming together to join in a fight for a better life. I am glad I can be, even it is for a fleeting moment -the duration of a bicycle tour- a representative of this cause. My life was sent spinning with three words: you have cancer. Fine, I accept the challenge. Now I lay down a challenge myself. I spin the wheels of my bike chewing up miles across the US with the love and support of many human beings for tailwind. Let's see if the virus can keep up! 

Back to the ride, back to Ohio. Today I bumped into some Amish communities. I watched them laboring energetically over fields and by barns tending to the livestock and other farm needs. I have seen a lot farm life in the past few days. At car speed the countryside seems monotonous, repetitive, uneventful. However, the bicycle offers me an intimate view of life's happening. This might be silly but it happens quite a bit: today I had two dog chases, I outsprinted them easily. Most dogs however are chained, but that doesn't stop them from trying to give chase. As soon as they see my twirling legs and hear the clanking of gear shifts, their violent, protective instinct kicks in. They forget all about the chain latched to the collar around their neck and tear off across the yard, legs pumping, barking loudly, ready to terrorize. And then, only a couple of seconds later, the chain pulls tight against the tree or pole it's attached to, stopping the dog dead in its tracks and instantly pulling it back toward its owners' house with a solid yank. The owners do not bother to call the dogs and all they do is stare at me unmoved, their body language does not give anything away. I sometimes raise my hand to wave hello, most of them reply with a nod of the head or they don't; they simply stare blankly as if they are looking at a dark TV screen. Most people are outrageously overweight. I often pull in at a grocery store to stock up on water and I wait in line behind some enormous man or woman who is going to purchase some obscure sugar-inflated snacks and will never, ever in their lives comprehend the taste of fresh fruit. But then again who are these people that inhabit "small town" America? And what is "small town" America? It certainly cannot be contained in a few sentences and it cannot be branded under isms or economic-based or even cultural categorizations. It is hard to attach the word 'liberal' to it but the fact that Obama is coming to town to shake it off of its numbing conservatism and bigotry might as well thrust my memory to one of my heroes, a liberal of small-town America par excellence, Atticus Fynch and his savvy words: "you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view". This one was for Scout.

The bike also gives me a chance to appreciate the weather and how it can alter your travel. The wind for instance, oh God! don;t eveng et me started on this and here it is pretty tame compared to the gusts of the open west. The wind changes everything. I am trying to learn how to protect my ride against it, where it blows from and how to prevent it from knocking me off balance. Traveling on the bicycle makes you want to stop at any corner or at any pretty sight and makes you want to remember it for ever. Makes you want to be one with the scenery, makes you want to go everywhere and see everything. I feel I could just walk through a corn field, smell the fresh grass, stop in one of the many hamlets I pass through and talk to the locals for hours. Or I could simply ride away after a quick hello. The bicycle is the only true serendipitous means of transportation because it allows no barriers between you and what you see and stifles all inhibitions within yourself. The bicycle makes you wanna live.  

The last 20 miles before Upper Sandusky. I push hard without stopping and by the time I am in town I long for a hot shower and a hot dinner. I enter the hotel and I don't know how the lady at the counter can find the decency in herself to smile at me because I'm a complete mess of dripping, sweaty, salty nastiness. My legs are tarnished with a mix of chain lube, dust, sunscreen, and sweat. Likewise my lower arms. I quickly pay the bill, wash my clothes and spend half an hour soaking my stiff legs in the tub. When you look at the world and think of Ohio you might be realizing that it is insignificant and stale, old and underdeveloped, isolated and prmitive. Maybe. But it is the pumping heart of the agricutural engine of America. After all when you slice up Americana, not all the pieces will taste sweet, but they might still be nourishing. This is the heart of America, few people know it and fewer people come to see it thinking there is nothng to see. How wrong they are!

Tomorrow I will continue on the historic Lincoln highway, which has been my trusted ambit of action for more than 200 miles. I am hoping to cross into Indiana. Lake Michigan beckons. And Chicago will be next.

Another Ohio barn

Amish cart in Wooster



Run-down wooden church in tiny Mifflin

Mansfield, hundreds in line to get tickets for Obama on his campaign trail on Wednesday

Ohio scenery of today's ride, afternoon.

 The bike is taking a breather

 Football training along LH

 Another photo for the 2013 barns calendar!

Flat and fast

A yard sale, all sorts of junk for sale, even a compound bow for $150

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Pittsburgh, Pa - Canton, Oh

108 miles - Total: 413 miles

Another solid day of 100+ miles. I am pushing hard because I never lose sight of the cause and I never lose sight of the support you are giving to this cause.

Yesterday was a day spent meandering through the lives of Mason & Dixon, taking a course in American history and perusing through the little jewels of the late industrial revolution period. The GAP made an important setting to ride in, it was historically poignant and naturally charming and provided several little towns and valleys which I fully enjoyed. Today I am out of the “mountains” and into the low hills which will pave the way for the plains of Ohio. This morning I leave set off from a large town: Pittsburgh. I sleep like a log and I wake up very late when the housekeeping people knock on my door. Last night my legs hurt and felt like two slobs of concrete and could hardly walk. By some incomprehensible miracle in the morning I am as strong as new. I barely make it to breakfast before the restaurant closes. I run to the hall and the complimentary breakfast at the hotel is abundant and my appetite is equal to the offering. Waffles, bread, cereals, bananas, milk. 8 hrs of sleep and stacks of energy food later I am back where I was yesterday morning, on the bike! The sky is clear for the first time since I have left DC. There is no wind and with a spotless sky, a beautifully warm Ohio morning and with clean clothes - after a midnight visit to the hotel laundry last night - I could not ask for better conditions. I check out and I steer my way downtown where I spend a bit of time riding through the heart of the city. It is lively and colorful and I enjoy the motley architecture. Pittsburgh seems like a hip and happening town. Before I know it it's noon and it is time to finally hit the road.  

It takes me a while to get out of the city, I negotiate several short but incredibly steep hills and through a large suburban area I finally make it out of the traffic. Just out of Pittsburgh, I cycle through old, decaying farms and rusting buildings that convey a message of desperation of a black and white silent movie which will never be redeveloped. It's gone and it is over. This is the stagnant decay of present days for the sprawling infrastructure of one of the most powerful industries in the world. It is the reminder of a fading light that went out too fast. Was there any plan B? And most importantly, where is the sweep of progress going to come from? After three hours of constant up and down, I reach a bit of a milestone: I cross the Ohio River, which is the largest tributary of the Mississippi. Yep, this is clear evidence of my progress.

More history for me today as this is the river that had great significance in the history of the Native Americans, as numerous peoples settled and developed along its valleys. Way before the white settlers came the Natives were extremely apt at using the river as a means of transportation. They were then wiped out or forced to move farther West. Many street signs have names that evoke a long gone past. By the way, the first map of the river was created by an Italian cartographer. The river was the first waterway that made significant advances to the West possible, Charles Dickens went on steamboat trip and was not impressed, he found it:” a breeding place of fever and death . . . an ugly sepulcher, a grave uncheered by any gleam of promise." Well, this was back when the communities that could not drag their heavy belongings across the land out West or prosper in the East, stayed and squeezed a living out of what the shores of the river had to offer. I share one snippet of Dickens’ sentiment; there isn’t a deep sense of life around here; it used to be teeming and energetic when the steel industry could supplant everything else and would provide these communities a real sense of the future.

As I cycle past East Liverpool, the first town in Ohio, I stop for a rest. The place looks like a ghost town where villagers have been evacuated because of a plague. There is not a soul around and as I sit on a wall sipping my water and looking at the sweat dripping down my arms I kick my clip-on shoes. The clinking noise echoes in the streets and that's the only sound I hear. I quickly get back on the saddle and I climb some serious hills, which I had erroneously thought I had put behind. Shortly after, after about 350 miles of wading up and down the Appalachian steep ridges, the grades ease up and the hills shorten and the terrain flattens out. At East Liverpool I take Highway 30 and I cycle all afternoon on this Lincoln Scenic Byway which is well signposted. This highway isn't as well known outside the USA as Route 66 but it was the first coast to coast road, predating the widely recognized and iconic route 66. I bump into several riders, whizzing past me on their strident Harleys, beer bellied, head shaved hulky men and in the back seats leather pants and big-bosomed women. The appraoching roaring of the engine doesn't diminish the fear the moment they pass me, they scare the hell out of me! There are still a few gentle rolling hills but nothing like the steep hills back in Pennsylvania. Thick forests give way to corn fields and glorious flower beds. The aroma is delicious, reminds me of spring in my childhood, it is just a wonderful setting to ride in. I keep pushing on thinking how wonderful it is to ride in these rural areas away from traffic and pollution. The only traffic that I have to deal with comes in the form of Harleys and occasional truck. In addition to being light, traffic is very respectful when they pass me leaving ample space between us. There are also some Amish communities judging by the share of road signs showing a horse and trap. I haven’t seen them yet.  

The Lincoln Highway has a succession of small towns along it. I stop several times to tank up on water, Gatorade, ice-creams, you name it. I eat to my heart's content. I love these tiny towns which are inhabited mostly by old people, wrinkled faces and steely eyes, tough skin and unassuming demeanor; these are the people that live around here where time stands still. Farmers, retired workers, veterans, former steel workers. Life is tough because they have to make a living out of difficult conditions and life is simple because it is all about making a living.

It is almost 7pm when I enter the mid-size town of Canton and I long for a shower. I ride through downtown which, with its large buildings and staid vibe does not appeal to me, and I finally come to a stop at a Comfort Inn. A very good day indeed. Time to write the blog, eat like a pig and sleep.  

"Pitt", University of Pittsburgh, it is a massive campus, I liked this building

Downtown Pittsburgh 

Pittsburgh, familiar skyline

Pittsburgh, the cabled cars. The city has one of the most extensive transportation services in the world

And it has fifteen steel bridges 

Crossing the Ohio river!

Defining moment, entering Ohio 

East Liverpool, not as welcoming as hoped 

Historic Lincoln Highway

From the road. (With love)

 Fragrant flower bed

Typical scenery of today's ride

Lisbon, Oh 

Why do I love barns so much? They define a way of life? There's a symbolism I cannot get, pretty to look at?

Downtown Canton


Cumberland, Md - Pittsburgh, Pa

155 miles - Total: 305 miles

Today I made myself a present: I cycled 155 miles. I pushed on the pedals like there’s no tomorrow and I loved every minute of it. By the time I got to Pittsburgh I had dust in my mouth, my gear was heavy with sweat and soiled with mud, my legs burning and shaky. I cycled the whole of the Great Allegheny Passage, which is a trail that winds its way through the mountains of Pennsylvania. The trail is 150-mile path of crushed limestone surface, which makes for a reasonably smooth ride.

Day three of my cross-country ride dawns slightly overcast; the mist hovering low over the hills seems glued to the sides like it tries to slide up but cannot make it to the top. Rick comes to meet me at the hotel and we get a late start at 8:30am; together we take on the GAP. Rick is 57 and must be the fittest 57-year-old I have ever met. He powers through the miles with ease and I struggle to keep pace with him. Out of Cumberland we immediately begin to climb. Starting from Cumberland and heading West, there is a constant uphill grade for almost 25 miles as we ascend to the Eastern Continental Divide. The trail offers countless angles for great photos. It would be nice to just plug away to enjoy the many historic points and little detours that the trail has to offer. But I can’t as I want to cover as many miles as possible. Although the grade of the trail isn’t too bad, after a while it starts to get heavy, offering no respite so we push hard passing many cyclists with whom we exchange quick “hellos”. I am glad Rick is with me because I would have not coverd these many miles on my own.

The history of the Passage is fascinating. The first part of the trail follows the tracks of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. This transportation network was built in late nineteenth century to create an alternative way of reaching the West to the existing C&O Canal. To me the trail, dug up among hills and mountains symbolizes the adventurous spirit and the entrepreneurship of the time to expand to the West in search of trade opportunities. The trail crosses the Eastern Continental Divide, which runs along the ridges of the Appalachians and separates the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Watershed. From this point the 125 miles to Pittsburgh will be an almost imperceptible descent of 1665 feet to Pittsburgh.

I didn’t know that the Mason-Dixon Line was drawn to settle a territorial dispute. It later came to symbolize the demarcation between freedom and slavery, between North and South. Now it forms the border between the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the state of Maryland. And it is with quite some modicum of pride that I ride into my fourth state (including the District of Columbia). I stop in a shaft of sunlight and take a shot of the view. I am drenched in sweat but I am feeling pkay. The more I get into the ride the stronger I feel. Rick is very knowledgeable of the trail and provides useful insight as we plough along. The weather is fine, it is humid but not too hot as the trees and thick bushes of the Passage provide much desired shelter from the sun. We immediately press on toward the eternal downhill promised after the Eastern Continental Divide. Between the state line and the Continental Divide I was also looking forward to riding through one of the engineering highlights of the GAP: the Big Savage Tunnel, which at nearly 3,300 feet long is the longest tunnel on the GAP and C&O trails. The coolness of the tunnel is a nice break from the increasing heat. Shortly thereafter we finally come to the Eastern Continental Divide, the high point of the trail, which tops out at 2,392 feet above sea level. After the Continental Divide the scenery begins to take on a more remote feel as we pedal through the beautiful Allegheny Highlands area. The rolling hills and forests are complemented by the amazing man-made feature of the 910-foot-long "Keystone Viaduct" bridge that carries the GAP trail 100 feet above Flaugherty Creek and the CSX railroad tracks. While the Savage Tunnel is neat, I am much more impressed by the viaduct, as it combines industrial revolution engineering with sweeping views of the nearby mountains, resulting in a panorama unique to the GAP trail. At Meyersdale we stop for a lunch, or second breakfast break. I drink a frozen milk shake, which later on turns out to be not such a great idea (if you know what I mean..). Just outside Meyersdale we cross the second of the two viaduct bridges that this area is known for, and part of the triad of engineering accomplishments comprised of the Big Savage Tunnel and the two viaducts. At more than 1,900 feet the Salisbury Viaduct is the longest bridge on the trail.

After the awe-inspiring engineering of the twin viaducts, the town of Rockwood is next. The town centre is pretty and welcoming. The next village is Confluence, this is where Rick and I part ways. I thnak him for his kindness and I hope I will get to see him soon.

On my own I realize how different the ride is, much harder of course. However, the scenery takes my mind off it. I really enjoy the ride up there as the trails cuts through thick forests and over several creeks. The town itself is very small and offers a bunch of good lunch alternatives. The trail is calling, so I head back through town and regain the GAP where I left it, crossing back over the Casselman River and the Youghiogheny River. The next town, Ohiopyle, is just hilarious, comprising of 3 streets. It has a compact centre which is jam-packed with visitor services, including small restaurants, a few motels, and the various adventure outfitters. The Ohiopyle Falls are worth checking out. Heading west out of Ohiopyle I cross a series of bridges across the Youghiogheny River, first the multi-span bridge out of town, and then a second bridge that crosses the river again, providing a great view of the whitewater section and the gorge. The Youghiogheny doubles back on itself here in a horseshoe bend, which is why I cross it twice in a short distance. By this time it is past 4pm and I still have 80 miles to cover if I want to reach Pittsburgh. A long shot but doable. My body feels fine, plenty left in the tank, no leg fatigue. I just talk to myself and I decide that I want to go for it. I listen to the unruffled sound of my legs as they push on the light bike that is supposed to carry me across the United States. I want to be in Pittsburgh tonight, I don't care what time I get there. If I keep this pace I will get there at nightime but who cares?

I am forced to stop for at least 1 hour becuase of heavy rain. I take shelter under a porch of an old house and wait for the rain to let up. As soon as it does I have no choice but to ride the muddy surface of the trail. In a few seconds my legs, my shorts and the bike are encrusted with mud. During the second part of the afternoon as I gradually encroach on the Pittsburgh metro area, the sweeping views and mountain feel of the morning give way to a more typical river rail-trail feel along this section, but it is still very scenic nonetheless despite being so close to an urban area. Coming into the small town of Whitsett, the trail crosses and then parallels a road along the river.

This is the "steel valley" which is a trip down memory lane of a prosperous past of one of the mainstays of the American industry: steel. This is an area charged with shock and nostalgia. The abandoned buildings once used as steel mills and plants are now pathetic, mangled, ghost-town like reminders of the past. Are these buildings about to turn into rubble? Will everything vanish without a whisper? It wasn't a decline, it was the worst slump since 1929, people's livelihood were immediately compromised, thousands unemployed. Migration ensued. This is a tough deal. After the perfectly combined juxtaposition of trails, forests, bridges and mountains this area does not project strength or prosperity. It looks like a movie set without actors and crew.

As I get closer to McKeesport the trail begins to take on a much more industrial feel, paralleling various industrial yards, multiple sets of railroad tracks and bridges, etc. The full industrial background of the Pittsburgh area is on display from the trail. Rather than being turned off by the abrupt transition from bucolic trail to working mill yards, I find it an interesting scene as the sort of industries on view are what made Pittsburgh great.

The latter part of the day goes by quikcly as adrenaline is really what carries me through. By the time I come into town I am exhausted but oh so happy. I ride all the way to downtown in total darkness and I spot a hotel that will do for a few hours. It is almost 10 pm, what a day!

Today was a full day of riding; I spent hours on the saddle. I am happily safe on the other side of the ridge of the Appalachians. From now on I should enjoy more downhill as I make my way to Ohio. I am hundreds of miles away from Chicago, I am on schedule. This is good.

Hills behind Cumberland 

Misty morning 

Riding on the GAP with the Railway next to it 

The M/D line, also the Penn state line

The view from the highest point of the GAP 

More views from the top, through the gap on the right sits Cumberland 

About to enter the Big Savage Tunnel

Cool, almost cold inside

Pennsylvania at its finest

With Rick

Lovely steel bridge, Ohiopyle

The trail cuts through the forest

Water rafting down under

Abandonded building sits idle and silent in the heart of the "steel valley"