Just realized I haven’t posted in almost a week! I tried to write a post last night, but managed to delete it thanks to my incompetence with the WordPress app. Due to limited time, this post will be a bit behind where I am now (which is Ohio, as of yesterday morning) and hopefully I’ll get things up to date soon!
I’ve still had rain on the majority of days, and there is more forecast for the weekend – but I’ve also learned not to trust the forecasts too much, as I’ve seen plenty of promised storms dissipate over the course of a few hours, the forecast going from rainy to cloudy to sunny as the asserted time of rain onset approaches. Yesterday I even had enough sun to ride in a t-shirt for the first time.
From Bloomsburg where I last posted, I headed west across more scenic farm country, still without too many hills, except for a single mountain that I inadvertently let Google send me over. That was a notoriously tough one, and by far the nastiest climb I’ve encountered in recent memory. Some local told me it was a 26% grade near the top. Whether that’s true or not, I certainly walked the last half mile of it. So I didn’t cross the Appalachians without climbing a single one. After that descent I was soon in Jersey Shore and out of the Ridge and Valley.
That same day I had my first flat – which I think resulted from the tube being old and worn, rather than a puncture. The hole was on a seam of the tube and there was no corresponding sharp object or hole in the tire. Once I patched it and reinflated the tube, I rode about 20 feet before the tube exploded. Luckily I have a spare!
From Jersey Shore I went up the Pine Creek Rail Trail through a gorge the upper part of which is known, with some embellishment, as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. The trail is great – 60-odd miles of very scenic riding up a 1% grade on fairly smooth gravel. I listened to podcasts and music up until I caught up with three more bike tourists, identifiable by their loaded Long Haul Truckers. We quickly realized we were heading to the same place – a Warmshowers host near Wellsboro. Warmshowers, I may not have mentioned, is a website and app for people who want to host touring cyclists for the night. Basically Couchsurfing for bike tourists.
This was my first experience with it and it will be hard to beat,easily outranking even the backyard cabins in the Negev with baby goats being born that I experienced at a trail angel on the Israel Trail. The young couple hosting us lived on the husbands family farm in a converted barn, on hills in some of the most beautiful pastoral countryside you can imagine. As the sun set, the horses down the hill began to gallop merrily across the fields. Despite that they had family visiting, they brought us right in to the dinner table and fed us lavishly, then put us up in the many beds up in the former barn’s attic. I scored the best location, a bed in the highest loft with perfect sunrise views.
Although a large part of me wanted never to leave, I parted ways in the mid-morning with James, Rob and Mike (the other bikers) and Riah and Aubrey (our hosts). I headed west into the increasingly hilly Allegheny plateau on US 6, which in Pennsykvania is designated as most of state bike route “Y.” My knee was starting to hurt badly, for which I blamed the huge climb over the mountain two days prior. I made it only 40 miles and stayed in a very overpriced cabin -albeit one surrounded by a peaceful pond, babbling brook and tall hemlocks. Unsure of how my knee would feel in the morning, I went to bed early to avoid the mother bear and cub that the owner warned me liked to frequent the grounds when things were quiet.
Up next: will Jules continue to ride a bike or will his knee injury put the trip to an embarrassing end? Will he be eaten by bears? Stay tuned!!
Some photos follow.
Because the WordPress app is atrociously bad, the photos below are stuck at the end of the post rather than at the beginning where they belong. That’s also the reason for the brevity of the posts d for all the typos and other sloppiness which I Would normally never tolerate. I’m stuck with WordPress now, so all I can hope for is an update that improves the app’s speed, stability and interface.