Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 4 C&O and begin backroads

Day #4) June 16, 2011. Paw Paw, WVa on the C&O to Moorefield, WVa– 59 miles in 4:15 hrs.

Damn….crazy day indeed. Ok, let’s start from the start. So last night we stayed in this little campground that’s part of a bike shop – the C&O Bike Shop in Hancock, MD. Now I briefly mentioned to you the conditions of this place, namely the pooper that was damned near at the over flow stage, and the garbage bin that was about 2 feet overflowing with refuse. The compound courtyard was just a disheveled mess. Wonderful huh? You should have seen Judy’s face when we went in to the “compound” to check the place out….utter shock! Bill and I goofed on the pooper situation all evening, talking about how one was an enclosed “Mt Everest and the other was an enclosed Mt. Shasta. The Mt Shasta porto-let was definitely the one to use – still some room for the butt! Then there was the garbage situation in the back, I mean it was just deplorable, what with all the junk laying all over the place because the garbage can was overflowing. I could just envision raccoons dropping out of the trees to feast on all the refuse!

So we met the “caretaker” of the bunk compound, Ron. Now Ron’s job is basically caretaker of the compound area as well as an employee of the shop as a bike mechanic. He actually lives in one of the bunks at the bunkhouse. It was the bunk with sheets draped all over the two exposed sides such that it was kind of enclosed from the rest of the house – reminded me of the bunk on a sub – a Russian sub! Ron’s a good sort for sure, but I’m just amazed by how squalid the compound is in which he lives and works. Is that on him or his employer? Don’t know but we all kicked around the notion that someone should have taken care of the messiness of the place. And in my opinion the onus falls on Ron, the guy who lives there.

So anyway, last night was a keeper for sure. About 12 midnight there were people who pulled next to the compound just raising hell for about 30 min – yelling, screaming, just craziness. And Judy was on the “critter” watch all night worrying about all sorts of creepy crawlies getting on her once she’s asleep. What a step down from the great digs we had at Sue and Hersh’s and at Mary and Ned’s. I mean we literally cut the cable on the elevator and let it fly down to the basement! I mean we were rock bottom.

Well, Hancock is a cool little place, and very biker friendly. We walked up and down main street for a bit last night before bedtime. Then we went back to the compound and cooked up a pack of Hebrew Nationals for a pre-beddie bye snack. Got up this morning and high tailed it the hell out of there and went to a little restaurant for breakfast, and then took off for our start in Paw Paw. Plan was for Bill to ride the rest of the trail all the way to Cumberland and me to jump off at Old Town and begin my backroads riding. Our plan was for them to meet me later in in the day at Kirby, WVa.

Bill and I got going where we left off yesterday in Paw Paw, and the ride to Old Town on the C&O was just ok. Nothing spectacular like yesterday. We made Old Town in like 45 minutes. It was in the middle of nowhere. I had to ask where the bridge was to get across the Potomac to WVa so I could start my backroads riding. We were directed to a road that led to a toll bridge. Bill rode with me there and it was not at all what I’d expected. I was thinking it was some big bridge spanning the Potomac. Instead it was this little wooden planked thing about 4 feet off of the river – and the river is just a freaking trickle at that point. It was like a bloody creek crossing.

I even asked the toll lady if THAT was the Potomac? Yes, she said incredulously. No toll though for the bike, and I bid goodbye to Bill, with him riding all the way to Cumberland to meet up with Judy. Crossed the bridge on asphalt, which I knew was coming, and rode south to my left turn onto gravel. Except my left turn was NOT gravel. It was apshalt! “Ok, so that’s the story here,” I thought, got to go with it. Made my left and started to climb up a small mt. Went up for about 15 min and then topped out on this fabulous little 1.5 lanes wide road. My disappointment about no gravel was replace with the beauty of that little country road out in the mts. So I climbed and descended for about a half hour, and it was awesome. Just couldn’t help but enjoy the lack of traffic and congestion that I’d been used to on cross-country rides. Then all of a sudden on a descent I came to a dead-end. There was a Y in the road with both gravel ends having “No Trespassing” signs posted on them. Now I wasn’t devastated, by the setback, but I was concerned that I’d screwed up my meeting time with Judy and Bill by having to backtrack.

So I turned back knowing that I’d have to re-ride the entire stretch of mt road. Flagged down a guy for directions and told him of my intent with my directions. He looked at me like I was an alien. “Never heard of those roads,” was his response. So I figured that I’d made a wrong turn and kept going back to the original road. That’s when Hershel stopped to talk with me. He said he’d talked to the man who I flagged down, and that that guy had googled my directions and had no idea where the hell I was going. Hershel just wanted to check to see if I was ok. So I reiterated my directions and he just kind of cringed at what I was saying. Said his relatives pretty much owned that mountain and that no such outlet existed. He offered to give me a ride to wherever I was going, so I said I’d take a ride back to where I made the wrong turn. Threw my bike in the back of his pick-up and on the way we stopped at his Uncle’s house for him to check out my directions. So off to Uncle Nick’s we went.

Nick, the prime owner of the freaking whole mountainside asked me where I’d gotten the directions. He said I was indeed on the right road, but that it was a deadend. Told him I’d bought the county maps from the WVa DOT. That’s when he said “ - - ck the DOT, those maps have never been updated. This road has been closed for decades.” Told me there is now no ford across the South Branch of the Potomac, and that I’d have to ride back to MD to make the other side, where I had wanted to go. Told me to ride back to Paw Paw. So then the big question: “where are you headed, “ he asked. And that’s usually the unsettling one for me on trips like this. Told him I was riding across the country. And he kind of looked at me with this deadpan look. “Ok,” he responded, “so where are you going around here?” Told him I wanted to ride to Kirby to meet up with my girlfriend and my buddy. And again, he looked at me with a deadpan look. “That’s 35 miles away,” he responded. You ridin that on a bike?” “Yup,” I answered. “I’m trying to ride across the country.”

“Who gave you these stupid directions,” he asked. And I sheepishly admitted that I’d gotten them from WVa County maps that I’d paid 2 bucks apiece for, and from info I’d gotten on Google Earth. “Shit,” he said. “I don’t believe any of that crap that google and Tom-Tom Go says. There just ain’t no road that crosses the river. And those maps? You pay for them?” “Yup,” I answered, “2 dollars each.” He just shook his head with a grin. Yup, I screwed up on this portion all right. Not only was the road listed as gravel, but it was also listed as a thru road. NOPE to both!

So it was right then and there that I decided to call Judy and tell her of the gaff – and of a change of plans. Of course down here in the hill and hollows of WVa, cell reception is iffy. But I did manage to get 1 bar and left her a message. I knew that we were going to meet in Rt 28, so I left a message that I’d meet them at Springfield, just 7 miles away on Rt 28. No dirt on that stretch. And it was a shortcut to the route that I had mapped. But I just needed to check out the maps in the van and then readjust the itinerary. So Nick gave me directions to Springfield, and Hershel took me back to about a half mile into my wrong turn. And like Hershel offered to take me to Springfield, to which I politely declined, saying that I was riding across the country and I just couldn’t take a ride forward. He shook his head in confusion, but said he respected me for what I was trying to do, and then asked for my phone number to check on me later to make sure I was ok. And I was back on the bike after nearly 45 min of confusion.

About 2 miles into my ride to Springfield I just got pelted on by a passing rain storm, getting totally soaked. At least there was no lightening. Put all my E-gear into the waterproof handlebar bag. Made it to Springfield, to the Sunoco station that Nick had told me about, and which I had left a message for Judy where I’d meet them. Pulled in and these chicks were in a beat-to-hell Chevy kind of cat-calling me and giggling. I just waved politely and proceeded to an overhang near the front door so I could dry off and make another phone call.

Got a hold of Judy, who was still in Cumberland getting Bill, and told her to just ride south on Rt 28 and catch up to me. I figured I might as well just keep riding. Done. And I proceeded to ride again, into another deluge. Got my second soaking and just kept rolling along, climbing, descending, flats, just riding along trying to make some headway on nothing but asphalt, and on this super busy road to boot – logging trucks, SUV’s, delivery trucks, this road was just super busy. It was a FAR sight from my little backroads trip for sure! Rode and rode and rode, and finally after about 2 hrs after talking to Judy on the phone they caught me. Told them I’d ride to Moorefield to get in a good day and to get back to a place where I could re-evaluate my directions. They were going to look for a campground or motel

Well, I ended up riding another hour down the road – right into another deluge. Judy and Bill had stopped about 5 miles outside of town to check on me, with Judy “encouraging” me to stop there and call it a day. “Nope,” I said, I’m riding into town. And about 5 minutes later I heard lightening cracking and the deluge began. It was like the temps dropped 20 degrees and the rain was just coming down in buckets. I really tried to TT it into town, only because of the cooler temps. And about 2 miles down the road I saw my van in a motel parking area, with Judy just about to pull out to go back towards me to get me because of the lightening. I mean at that point it was a total white-out with the rain with thunder and lightening going solid. Bill had already booked a room and gestured me to the side of the bldg. Day done. Dripping wet I rolled the bike into the motel and did a super hot shower asap. My arse is just raw from riding with soaking wet shorts for 3 hrs!

The day cleared up again and we drove to a beautiful little town park and cooked dinner under a picnic roof on Bill’s NASA jet. Eating fresh salmon filets and veggies was a very good ending to a crazy day.

P.S. Hershel called me at 9:30 pm at the motel to make sure I was ok. He was blown away that I’d ridden all the way to Moorefield, just 40 miles from where I’d met him. We were totally tickled by his concern! Thanks a million Hershel – love ya dude!

Time for beddie bye…….Pete

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