Day 4: 60 miles and that's the longest stretch the Point Made! trip has covered so far. It is also going to be the longest one they cover on their entire trip. Today's trip ended in Cumberland with a victory beer. Thus far, the bicyclists had pedaled for 183 miles since Saturday and they are halfway through the trip now.
Highlights of Day 4:
The Paw Paw Tunnel (Mile 155+) is probaby the spookiest and the most fascinating adventure of the trip. The canal company built the tunnel through a mountain, the tunnel is 3,118 feet (950 meters) long and remains one of the world's longest canal tunnels. The tunnel takes its name from the pawpaw trees that grow along the ridges. Construction of the tunnel began in 1836 and it was completed 14 years later. "Today, there is still a sense of awe as walkers or cyclists finish the last curve of the restored canal towpath and see the gaping mouth of the Paw Paw Tunnel. The 24 foot high tunnel is lined with six million bricks -- more or less. Construction was a horror that ate up men, managers and money." The history of the Paw Paw Tunnel about the handcarved wonder is truly powerful -- wonderous it is.
The Paw Paw Tunnel (Photo by Dave Tucker)
The tunnel is really long and, as our guide Seth Gernot told the cyclists on the bus, it's really hard to see the end of the tunnel when you are in it. You'd better have your 'blinkers' on and focus on your bike not the tiny dot of light at the end of the tunnel, walk your bike, do not be a fearless 20 year-old.
Lock on the Canal (Photo by Dave Tucker)
Other remarkable sites on the way today included the Little Orleans store called Bill's Place (Mile 140.9). It is on the way to the Paw paw Tunnel On Saturday on our bus to DC our guide Seth Gernot marveled about authenticity and character of the place. It is named in the honor of its owner Bill, who used to hang out at the bar all the time until he recently passed away because of cancer. But his legacy and the place live on.
The cyclists and tourists get their chance to leave a mark at Bill's place in Little Orleans, Maryland, by signing a dollar bill which will become an essential part of the ceiling's decor. There are videos of the bills at Bill's Place on YouTube:
And CUMBERLAND... that's Mile 0 on the Great Allegheny Passage; the Point Made! team is staying overnight there. Too bad they did not arrive on Friday, otherwise, rumor has they could join the outdoor Happy Hour known as Friday After Five. That's when some 2,000+ people gather every Friday to enjoy live bands and drinks.
The Trail Book has a recommendation for cyclists visiting Cumberland:
"From Cumberland, the GAP climbs gradually for the next 24 miles. You and your bike can board the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad at Canal Place in Cumberland and take a 15 mile scenic ride through the mountains to Frostburg. The railroad runs from May to December." Do not miss on the opportunity, but you really won't.. since you may as well see the scenery while pedaling.
There are even more exciting things ahead! The Mason-Dixon Line, the Savage Tunnel and more coming up...
It looks like the Point Made! team had fun on Day 4. Sarah Carr wrote a blog post about the magic of paw paw and other advantures on the trail.