It's the second day of the ride and we are 35 miles away from Mile 0. Today we will ride for another 37 miles.
The first day was breathtakingly scenic, as one of my co-travelers put it, "each view has a postcard quality to it." the ride began in the heart of the urban center, first with a group photo near the Mile 0 marker. And off we went: we cut across the brick streets of the Georgetown campus, visited the Great Waterfalls, saw a few locks while riding along the old canal flowing in parallel with the Potomac, saw a heron, a black snake and heard a woodpecker in the distance. We stopped at White Ferry where our van picked up our bikes and we sitting in the van crossed the river on the ferry and arrived at Leesburg, Va. -- pretty neat!!
The trail was somewhat muddy, lots of puddles -- which we were instructed to just cross with acceleration never mind the dirt and splashes. And that's how we got baptized into true trail cyclists: a dirty skunk tail on the back went as high as the neck for some of us, and those who got the honor couldn't remember at that point why before the trip they thought having fenders on their bikes was a bad idea.
Now about the team: There are lots of characters on the Point Made! team. And every single one of them has a story, actually, lots of stories. They are of different ages, of different backgrounds, each has his own reason to ride a bike in general and the Great Allegheny Passage in particular.
There were 16 of us. While on our way to DC our guide Seth Gernot challenged us to introduce ourselves with a short story that describes something embarrassing that happened to us or something we are extremely proud of. Seth himself is quite a storyteller. His stories never stop, one leads to another. He is a power cyclist, in his life he has had more than a dozen bikes, now owns a mountain bike, entertains an idea of finishing the DC to Pittsburgh trail in 24 hours one day and has his own tales of biking adventures with Woody Harrelson ... In Pittsburgh, which really should be published somewhere in a magazine... Or, say, Saturday Diary ... in the least. Of course you'd think after such stories those of the others would be dwarfed. But hold on...
Here are some of them, on the first name basis ...
Jack from Murrysville, all his life lived in Pittsburgh, it's his third year riding a bicycle. For him the GAP trip is a challenge, of sorts, especially since just a short time before the trip he had his first major fall and broke his rib. He was not sure he would be able to make this trip happen. But his doctor said, "You are fine, you can go."
No big hugs for Jack though, our guide Seth Gernot quipped. And so here was Jack on the bus with his wife Conney. Conney has been a runner all her life. She and Jack took on biking together and they've been exploring trails in the Pittsburgh area together. "When she says 'we are biking together' what she really means is that she is 3 miles ahead of me."
Linda Boxx, the woman behind the GAP, is also on the trip with us, she is among the major protagonists in the Heroic Figures Who Made the GAP Happen opus. When she introduced herself the entire bus gave her a round of applause. She did say that one of the things she was very proud of was completing the Great Allegheny Passage
Sarah Carr is the youngest person on the trip, she took on biking just a few weeks before joining the trip. Sara will be blogging the trip, so you will see blog posts from here here. For her the GAP trip is one of the first long distance challenges. Sarah is originally from Pittsburgh and is in trail business. She
The first person I met was Carey, she and her husband Erwin are big travelers. They have been on a number of cruises. One of the most recent ones was to the Baltics and they had spent some time in Copenhagen. What she saw there was pretty remarkable, the city was so bike friendly, she got an impression that everyone biked there. In the morning you see people biking to work, women wearing cycling shorts under their skirts, she said.
Carey also recently had a bike crash, she was bruised and hurting, but fortunately she didn't break anything and did make the trip in the end.
Jeff O'Brein from Somerset is in the publishing business. " I look forward to hearing Borat routine at some point," he said looking at me. Right. I told him I forgot to mention we were related. Cause you know everyone from Kazakhstan is. Jeff has an interesting story, he worked in a steel mill -- Duquesne Works -- at some point. He does seem like the guy who knows a lot about the trail and cool sites on the way
"It's amazing the GAP was completed in one person's lifetime," Jeff said at some point. It is indeed.
There are more stories to come, so stay tune ... As for now ... On the road ... Day 2 ... Destination: Shepherdstown.
I must say after the first day as exhausting as it's been, I wish I could join the team all the way to Pittsburgh, but alas ... C'est la vie, as they say!