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  • Writer's picturePatrick Baechle

Ride away from the divide

Yesterday I crossed the Eastern Continental divide. It was not too difficult as the trail rose 2%, gradually, on the original B&O railroad grade. I was thrilled to ride though three long tunnels. The Big Savage Tunnel was 3,294 feet long. It was cool, dimly lit and kind of spooky inside but, I whistled and made sounds like a steam engine, as I cranked my drivewheels though the void, at breakneck speed.

I started the day with breakfast at Donges drive-in-resturaunt in Meyersdale, although it hasn't been a drive-in for a while. The place was filled with all kinds of characters right out of central casting. Everyone who walked in knew everybody, and open conversations flew about loudly, from the kitchen to the dining room. Subjects revolved about everything from Louise's knee replacement to who is mowing the lawn at the fair ground this week. I thought if Opie or Goober walk through that door I'm gonna blow my tubes. The breakfast was great and I felt like I was just in a movie. The people there were really genuine.

Had a couple of soaking downpours but, I rode straight through them. All I could think of was ' tonight, I am going to be living large in the big city of Cumberland and I would be washing my clothes and sleeping in a bed.

I got a room at the Ramada and was greeted by a whole convention of shriners with unusual outfits. I had to give way on the ramp for three guys pushing a cart with about 20 cases of beer. One other guys had a leather police uniform on with an embroidered emblem which said ' Official Fraternity of Court Jesters.

After eating sandwiches for days, I treated myself to an outstanding spaghetti bolenaes dinner at Ristorante Ottaviani. I met a guy at the bar who comes to Cumberland from Canada to fly gliders here because the thermals are so good. After dinner I walked over to the Dig Deep Brewery for an entertaining evening of live bluegrass music. I met a fellow cyclist there and we talked about things like the dangers of riding through the Paw Paw Tunnel.

When I returned back to the hotel a large group of Shriners, hanging out in front of the building, offered me to join them for a cigar.

Cumberland is where the trail changes from the GAP trail to the C&O Canal trail. There is a great visitor center here and a lot of new shops and restaurants have sprung up near this hub of activity.

This morning, rested, relaxed, with a full belly and clean dry clothes I depart east on the C&O canal trail. Stay tuned for more edge of your seat, nail biting excitement to come.

Today's socks

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