I remember learning to ride a bike in our yard in New Salem, (Armstrong Co.) Pa. when I was 6 or 7. I never remember riding a bike with my dad.
|Borden Tunnel, Maryland|
As a parent, I rode with all my kids, even subjecting Andrew to two days of a planned D.C. to Pittsburgh ride on the last day he was 12. But I never remember riding a bike with my dad. I don’t think I did.
In Piqua, Ohio, my brother, Bernie, and I would ride together to the country club where we were caddies. We even somehow managed to ride to the public course with golf clubs on our backs. I never remember riding a bike with my dad.
|Betsy and my Dad|
A few weeks ago I mentioned to my dad about going for a ride on the Great Allegheny Passage, a rail trail that goes from Cumberland, Maryland to McKeesport, Pennsylvania, and soon connecting to Pittsburgh. A large portion is in Somerset Co., Pa.
My dad expressed desire at going and I had hoped to have a four generation ride on Memorial Day weekend. As the time got closer I had been invited to a wedding the next weekend in Pennsylvania and two of the four generations couldn’t make it so I was hoping my dad would postpone it. I wasn’t looking forward to two consecutive weekend trips to Pennsylvania. We could do it next weekend.
|Betsy Sherry, Jim Broadwater|
|Savage Tunnel, Pennsylvania|
Arriving in Frostburg, I was shocked at how heavy his bike was as I unloaded it from the van. We met a friend of Betsy’s, Jim Broadwater, and headed down the switchbacks from the train terminal down to the trail.
|Savage Tunnel. I Climbed to the top of the portal to take photos,|
Our plan was to ride east to west going through two tunnels and crossing the eastern continental divide. There was one thing wrong with that plan. Other than the section from Cumberland to Frostburg, the Frostburg to Deal section had the highest climbing of any section on the trail.
|Cyclists entering Savage Tunnel|
I love climbing. More enthusiastic than talented, the satisfaction of reaching the top is, well, satisfying. My dad is not a climber. Yet, the rail trail is just a 1-2% railroad grade so it’s not like we’re ascending Mount Washington and its average 12% grade.
|Jim, Dad, and Betsy exit Savage Tunnel|
Once over the hump we settled into a pattern of ride for about 1/2 mile and then rest. It was sort of funny. Sort of.
I do not know how I will be at 82 years old. Or if I will be. I don’t appreciate how the cardiovascular system works and how it may not replenish the red blood cells as fast. I do know that we didn’t see any other octogenarians on the trail.
|Eastern Continental Divide|
The trail was full of wildlife. Five turtles, four snakes, (including one rattlesnake), three rabbits, two chipmunks, and one deer.
We entered the Bordon Tunnel, unlit, which I think surprised my dad. When he saw through it he said “We can see right through it.” Only once inside did he realize how difficult it was for the eyes to adjust. Jim had two lights on his bike and Dad was able to stay in front of those lights.
|Dad, Barry, and Betsy|
But Dad had a brief acclimation to the tunnel which caused some dizziness but quickly adjusted and rode his bike through the tunnel.
|“Rock Anchors” – Donors for Restoration of Savage Tunnel|
Storm clouds were rolling in, the temperature was dropping, and it was a good place for him to stop. I loaded his bike in his Jeep for the drive home.
Betsy, Jim, and I headed on to Meyersdale where she had parked. It was another seven miles. Arriving at Meyersdale we found my dad, who had driven there, probably to make sure Betsy got back to her card safely.
|My Dad’s Bike. I Rode it Part Way too.|
After uploading my ride data, I got an email that RideWith GPS made the Meyersdale to Frostburg section a timed segment. I’ve never been first on any segment but there I was in first. I smoked it going back.