I ended up stealth camping on the trail last night. As much as I hate to admit it, I pooped out climbing two miles to a campground. No excuses, but my headlight died and I was nervous about being on a back road unlit, so I sorta had an excuse. Camping on the trail I could hear the whitewater down below and any time a train came down the line it seemed as if it was coming strait toward me. I didn’t get the best night of sleep because my sleeping mat had been attacked by a ferocious house cat and wasn’t holding air very well. ( I’ll be trying a different method to patch it tonight) I got an early start to the day waking up at five to make sure I was packed up and off the trail before the first morning hikers or bikers came by. Surprisingly, there was an open bakery and I was able to get coffee. I left the whitewater of Ohiopyle and headed for the calmer waters of Confluence. ( a very popular fly fishing place) Very scenic views the whole trail since leaving Pittsburgh. Fifty or sixty miles into my ride I reached the eastern continental divide and was greeted with one of my favorite views. After visiting with some other people on the divide I started the twenty some miles descent into Cumberland. It took me a hundred and thirty miles of climbing to reach the elevation of the divide and only twenty to give it back. (2392 to 605)
In Cumberland ( famous for the gap in the mountains that allowed settlers to travel west) I went to a bike shop that was ideally situated right off the trail.
The last leg of the Tour de France was being replayed while I talked with the friendly guys about that worrisome noise my front end was making. I charged my phone and rehydrated (first with a Gatorade and then a beer) while me and the guys talked shop. Most bike shops have been pleasant to deal with and the occasional not, but theses guys where super cool and friendly. I left the shop a little after it closed with some spokes and a bag full of leftover cake. I went to the pizza joint around the corner and ended up talking to a guy that just bought the book The Lost Cyclist. He wasn’t a cyclist but thumbed thru the book and found it interesting. The books about a guy from Pittsburgh (way back in the day) that tried to cycle around the world. He disappeared somewhere on the other side of the planet.
One of the guys from the bike shop came by for a beer and we talked for a bit while eating some pizza. I got directions to a place to camp and was riding over that way when I came across a couple of grungy looking tattooed girls. They asked me if I was riding the whole trail and I told them I was riding the whole country. One of the girls said she was riding trains across the whole country. I asked where they were staying the night and they told me under the freeway bridge. I said I’d meet them under the bridge after I found my place to set up camp. As I was setting up my tent I was thinking, I am pretty tired and should just go to bed, but my adventure is almost over and I didn’t want to miss this chance to meet some people that are doing something crazier than me so I headed to the gas station to grab a six pack. I realized the gas station didn’t sell beer ( the rules are different in every state) and I asked the nice lady at the counter where I might find some. she told me
that Maryland didn’t sell beer on Sundays, but I could ride across the river to West Virginia and get some. She told me I only had until ten to get there before they stop selling. I thanked her and started racing to WV. The whole time I was doing this I knew it might not be the best decision to go to a bar in WV in spandex, but I did it anyway. When you do something stupid like show up at a country bar in West Virginia to buy beer in spandex, you need to have confidence. I walked into the bar liked I owned place and I ended up meeting some of the locals and got a handshake from one guy as i was leaving. Riding back to Maryland I came across the girl I first talked to and a guy wearing black boots,jeans and suspenders. He had a bit of an Amish look to him with the way his beard and hair grew. I introduced my self and the three of us walked to the hangout under the bridge. Under the bridge I met everyone and the dogs too. There were four train hopping kids with three dogs and one local homeless guy that was helping
them find a good place to sleep. I shared my Yuengling and offered everyone some cake. ( no one wanted cake) I found out where everyone was heading and talked with the Amish looking guy about places in Idaho and Montana that we’d both been to. These kids were perfectly content to be traveling around the country with no place to call home. I asked about traveling on the trains and learned about their lifestyle for a bit. They were all a little rough around the edges and really stinky, but really nice. You can never judge a book by its cover and that saying was definitely true that night. I squeezed in a funny joke that had the whole hobo circle laughing before I said my goodbyes and wished everyone good luck.