Finally we got to the startingpoint of the ”Great Allegheny Passage”. After spending several days on the US40 we looked forward to get on the trail that so many had recommended. First morning started with a hectic ride through the morning traffic in Pittsburgh. There are well marked trails in Pittsburgh on both sides of the Monongahela river. Our trail starts on the north side and changes to the south side a bit after passing center of town. Imagine the feeling of going on a trail without any traffic! So relieving not have to watch for any motorized vehicle.
For the first day our goal was set to reach the camping at Cedar Creek. It was a smooth biking on a paved trail in the beginning, that changed into still smooth biking but on crushed gravel when we came out on the countryside.
Travelling in slow pace in a beautyful scenery made us remember how this trip once started, following the Columbian river. It is more than two months since we took of from Portland, but it feels like yesterday.
Our second day on the trail did not start as easy as the first. We started of with early breakfast but had to sit and wait under a shelter while the rain pored down. Finally the rain stopped and we could leave. It took only about fifteen minutes until the rain started again.
On this stretch of the trail they have had a storm passing by a couple of days earlier. Leaving a lot of falling trees behind. For more than five miles there where several trees that we had to crawl under or carry our bikes over. This must be the toughest part we have done on our whole trip and definitely our slowest! Finally at the state park Ohiopyle we did, for the first time of all our biking days, mount a wet tent.
Even if it was a rough day we could look on the remains along the trail from times when the mining industri was at its peak. Day three and four the climb on the trail increased and we biked trough tunnels and over viaducts with fantastic views over the landscape. On our fourth day we passed over our last continental divide and the highest point on this trail and started to go downhill. A little bit from the top and just efter a tunnel opens fantastic views over the landscape. A place where one just must stop and just look!
Further down the hill you can, if you are lucky, see a steam train that goes parallell to the trail. On this trip we are lucky and we did meet the train! Very nice to see these old machines still in action. Puts a smile in my face.
End station of the trail is in Cumberland and there we also had planned our stop for the day. A visit to the small exhibition at the visitor center and a stroll around downtown ended our last day on The Great Allegheny Passage.
To get out of St Louis We followed the frontriver trail until we reached the ”Old chain of rocks” bridge. There we crossed the Mississippi river and entered a new state Illinois. Turned out that this bridge also is a remain from the old famous route 66.
At first our plan was to cross Mississippi more south but a guy in a bikeshop in St Louis advised us not to. He kind of looked at us with a strange face and said, ”guys, you don’t want to go there. Don’t you know that east side is kind of the murder capital of the world!? No, we did not know that… Well it was there we decided to go north and from there hit the US40.
The last days we have followed the US40 with some detours on smaller roads, where we could find them. Our new route is not so scenic as before but US40 is called the Old Historical highway, ”the road that build the nation” so there is from time to time some informationsigns and some remains from old times to look at.
Its like if our trip has moved over from nature and scenic views to a more urban trip with more and bigger cities. We have in a way adapted to this and entered some kind of vacation mode. The biking is so easy, flat and without any challanges, so we do the biking as a transport between the different citices we are visiting.
We meet a lot of people on our trip. Some who also are on a bike trip, some that are doing the same trip as we are, others just biking. Some bikes to raise money for various purposes, others to find somewhere to stay. Some does a weekend trip (love your attitude Jerry and Larry), some have no time limit at all.
We also meet people not biking, who will stay in my mind for a long time. I think of Dan in Stevensville (a war veteran who lives in a motel outside of town), the bartender Shannon in Canon City, the waitress in West Roosevelt who served us our first egg & bacon, generous Robert in Wilton, Ron and Maggie who moves across the country with their two children for a job, the waitress in Wisdom who treated us so well when we sweaty and dirty escaped from the mosquitos into her restaurant and of course everybody that stops along the way and offer water when it is hot. And many, many more.
Leaving Colorado and entering Kansas was not a very dramatic event. Or perhaps it was. At the border, another group gathered at the sign saying ”Welcome to colorful Colorado” at the same time as we were taking some pictures on the sign for Kansas. They all shouted and screamed a little while when suddenly someone in the group fired a gun! Everyone started to shout and laugh and then they jumped into their car and drove away. Dont know what it was all about. Perhaps they did one more bullet hole in the sign?
In the beginning of Kansas it was very dry. All creeks were entirely empty and the lakes was only blue on our map.
This gradually changed, and when we approached Larned we could see trees at the horizon! More and more trees and even water in the creeks. The longer into Kansas we have traveled, the more it looks like home in Sweden. Except for all the oil rigs that we dont see many of back home. Small roads, nice landscape and still lucky with the weather makes our Kansas stretch very nice, so far.
We fear a lot of headwind coming days so this may have to be revised.
MAY THE TAIL WIND BE WITH YOU!
In the last days we have passed over the highest point on our tour, visited the most scary B&B we ever seen (did not stay) and missed the whole 4-july thing.
The last stretch from Breckenridge was supposed to be hard and we started at 7 in the morning with the idea to be up at noon. The planned strech was short this day. With no hurry at all we started gently and worked our way up. It took only two hours to reach the sign that market the highest point at Hoosier pass! We stopped for a well deserved break and of course some posing in front of the sign, to document our triumph, before going down towards Fairplay.
Doing well uphill gave us a lot of extra time and we decided to go longer than planned. Thats how we ended up in Guffey… We had talked to a couple of guys who described a very special place to us, but we did just not connect that place with the map descripion of the B&B in Guffey. We arrived in Guffey just when it was going to start rain. Thunderstorms were coming behind us and we were very happy to be in Guffey before the rain should start to fall on us. The problem was that we could not find the B&B. We biked through the village but no sign of any B&B. Almost in the end of the road just in the end of the village there where a lot of skeletons and other strange exhibitions. We had found the B&B! The guy who is running the place came out from his workshop gave us a key to a small building and said we could stay there if we wanted. We went up to the house cruising in high grass betwen some carcasses laying in front of the building. It was all very rustik but that was not a problem. It was more the idea of having to grope among rotting carcasses in the dark of night on the way to the outhouse. One in our party thought it was ok (we have flashlights ) but one thought it was not. Despite the thunderstorm which now flashed uncomfortably close, we continued cycling.
We have been ”weather lucky” all this tour and so even this time. The thunder storm passed beside us, close but not over us and we could easily go all the way to Cañon City.
We made it through The rocky mountains and came down to Cañon City in one piece!
In Cañon City we had a reservation for two nights so that we could have a rest during the 4th of july. We also wanted to see the celebration of Independence Day. What we did not know was that Colorado is in a fire ban and that there where no fireworks in Cañon City. As a matter of fact there was not much of a celebration at all! We had a good time anyway. We took a fantastic tour into the royal gorge and just rested our tired leggs.
The days in Cañon City passed quickly and we continued to Pueblo. Coming into Pueblo felt like a phase was done and a new one started. Pueblo is also supposed to be the middle of the Transam Trail that we are following most of our journey. Many people we meet say that what we now are leaving are the most beautiful part. Well I hope there is still more to come and we look forward to go on flat ground for a while.
We are now changing from high altitude to high temperature. This is a new challenge for us to se how we can cope with the heat.
The day started with a 10 miles cllimb up to Hoosier
Pass, elevation 11539 ft (3517 möh), the highest point on the Transamerica trail and on our trip.
The day continued with a long distance on the bikes. When we arrived at Canon City the trip meter showed 173 km (107 miles), a new distance record for this trip.
Finally, even the accomodation cost turned out to be a new record (it was worth every dollar). We finished our day in the hotel whirlpool.
Now we have two days rest (that is a record too) in Canon City before we continue towards Pueblo.