Day 4: Meyersdale, PA to Connellsville, PA - Biking while Black: Riding the C&O and GAP Trail - CycleBlaze

Day 4: Meyersdale, PA to Connellsville, PA

Tuesday (10/26/21)

We wake up to a wet, windy morning in Meyersdale and enjoy a fresh, made-to-order breakfast at the Yoder House. On the menu for today is a frittata, sausage, potatoes and fresh fruit; our last 2 stays have been spot-on. After some friendly conversation with the host & another cycling couple about the upcoming trail conditions, we pack up & take off. 

It's cold & it rains all day. CCR’s ‘Have You Ever Seen the Rain?’ comes on & I feel like I'm being trolled by my own playlist. Immediately after that, 'Who'll Stop the Rain?' begins and it's clear it won't be me.

Despite the weather this was a really fun stretch and the scenery was absolutely beautiful. It was personally one of my favorite days in terms of visuals.  

Pinkerton bridge (GAP Trail MM52.1)
Heart 4 Comment 0
Casselman River via the Pinkerton bridge (GAP Trail MM52.1)
Heart 2 Comment 0

We have 60 miles on the docket, but even the 40 degree temps & rain can't put a damper on my ride considering all of the beautiful sights along the trail. We hit numerous bridge crossings with incredible river views below, see dozens of flowing mini waterfalls lining the trail and get a nice taste of the changing foliage and ever sought after fall colors. 

A beautifully scenic, off-road heaven
Heart 5 Comment 0
The epic views just keep on coming
Heart 2 Comment 0

The only other hurdle we encounter is the trail resurfacing taking place between Ohiopyle & Connellsville. Contractors in dump trucks are in the midst of laying down several inches of fresh, crushed limestone on the trail directly in front of us. We'd gotten a heads up about this earlier that morning from the couple in the B&B, but their warning hadn't fully prepared me for what was ahead. The limestone was deep, soaking wet & felt like quicksand on steroids.

Allison walks through the limestone quicksand (Ohiopyle, PA)
Heart 4 Comment 1
Rachael AndersonOh, what fun! Great photo.
Reply to this comment
2 years ago

We end up frequently pulling off the trail and waiting for them to pass as they drive back and forth for miles to help flatten and set the limestone. There was a muddy strip just to the right of the trail that would've been possible to ride through, but would be a tight squeeze & require at least some minimal technical skills. I weigh the pros and cons for a bit and eventually decided against it, walking my bike alongside Allison. Apparently someone broke their ankle riding the same muddy strip.

Heart 2 Comment 0
I wasn't chasing them, but the waterfalls were everywhere
Heart 5 Comment 0

Connellsville, PA
Heart 0 Comment 0

First Impressions

60 miles later we make it to Connellsville and ride another half mile or so through the city to our hotel. Unfortunately, the woman at the front desk toes the line between unprofessional and just plain antagonistic. After unhelpfully addressing some of my questions about our reservation and charge, she tells(not requests) me to wash our bikes off before bringing them inside and directs us to the house out front. We roll our bikes out and I immediately realize we've got ourselves a problem as I'm unable to get a drop of water out of this thing for the life of me. I confusedly think, 'There's no way she'd send us out here if we couldn't turn it on ourselves'. I fiddle with the hose for a few minutes while Allison watches on skeptically before making a futile attempt of her own. I question the patience I have left to deal with this woman again, but eventually head back in. 

When I explain the issue, she sarcastically says 'Well, that's probably because you need the key!' and smiles smugly as she reaches into her drawer to retrieve the obviously necessary key. I repeat a calming inner mantra and grab the key before escalating things to full scorched-earth. This is our very first encounter in the town of Connellsville and we're off to a rough start.

Another friendly couple (traveling West to East, from Pittsburgh to Cumberland) arrives and we soon get to talking as we wash off our bikes. They recount their day and mention some of their unique sightings, including a man selling ice cream from his backyard (which I later see & consider buying the following day). After washing the mud and grime from our bikes the woman politely offers up some of her lube which I'm thankful for as my chain is in need of some love. We say goodbye & wish each other luck on our respective adventures before Allison & I head upstairs to drop our bikes off.

Connellsville, PA: Room reservation for 2-adults and 2-clean bikes.
Heart 1 Comment 0

Second impressions

We head into town to pick up dinner and notice lots of locals lining the sidewalks for what we soon learn is the town's annual Halloween Parade. We make our way to a bike-themed restaurant and place a to-go order that would make Sherman Klump proud (including a gourmet ice cream sandwich I grab for dessert). 

A few minutes later, Allison suggests I put the ice cream I'd just purchased (and was currently holding) back into the cooler since the wait may be awhile - agreed, great idea. I place the unopened ice cream back into the cooler and note its Strawberry Cheesecake flavor in anticipation of the empty calories after dinner. As we wait for the next 40 minutes, we entertain ourselves by people-watching as the town's Halloween parade conveniently kicks off right out front. 

We finally get word that our food is nearly ready. Allison, having worked up quite an appetite, decides to buy some candy from the front register just before our food comes out. Much like me, she is in the mood to eat excessively. I join Allison as she picks out snacks at the register, grab my ice cream from the cooler, collect our dinner and return to viewing the festivities outside (where I recognize the friendly couple from hotel and say 'Hello'. Hungry minds think alike.)

Heart 0 Comment 0

As Allison settles her snack bill, I watch the theatrics of the parade and note that we are once again a distinct minority in this town and this busy parade helps emphasize that. Cold and ready to settle in for the night, we head back to the hotel. Allison mentions that she was charged for an ice cream which is strange because she doesn't eat dairy & didn't buy ice cream. She explains that the employee saw me go to the cooler and take a 2nd(the first and only one I bought) ice cream, and therefore charged Allison for a second one, without telling her. So as not to create any trouble, Allison notifies the staff of their error, and says she will indeed now grab a 2nd one to account for the additional item she was wrongly charged for. In most cases, my inner fat-man would be ecstatic, but this was a problem. Without getting too deep into the semantics of this situation and why making assumptions about people is usually detrimental, let me just provide the facts.

  1. I placed an order + tip with bill totaling ~$60 (including ice cream)
  2. I placed my paid-for, unopened ice cream back into the stores' cooler after placing order, anticipating long wait
  3. I retrieved my paid-for ice cream from the cooler once notified my order was nearly ready
  4. Allison was charged for ice cream she did not purchase and I did not request, without question or warning
  5. I was assumed to have taken a 2nd ice cream that I did not notify employees of, and was charged accordingly

This was another disappointing interaction that left a bad taste in my mouth - pun intended. No matter how you try to swing it, the fact is that I was assumed to have taken a $5 ice cream (without telling staff) after literally placing an order for 12x that amount. If there was any confusion at all, a simple question of 'Would you like me to add that to your order?' would have cleared it up. There was an open opportunity to communicate with me directly, but an assumption was made instead & it was the wrong one. While traveling throughout different cities and towns, we typically base our experiences on the interactions and encounters we have in them. It's a shame to draw negative conclusions about a city at large based on a few experiences, but the truth is that these encounters don't encourage a welcoming or hospitable feeling and if nothing else, provide me with insight as to what towns and shops are worth skipping over for people like me.

I consider all of this as we brave the cold back to our room and settle in for the night and look ahead to tomorrow's ride and our final day on the trail.

Despite my interactions with the locals of Connellsville this evening, I think back to the beautiful scenery along today's ride and the fun had on the way here and cannot wait to get back on the trail.

Today's ride: 59 miles (95 km)
Total: 244 miles (393 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 8
Comment on this entry Comment 1
Andrea BrownThat sounds kind of painful, these interactions you're having. It's easy for me, a white woman, to say, "Everybody should get out there and do what they want to do!", but it really isn't easy for folks of color in a lot of places. I'm sorry it's this way. I'm glad you're sticking with it and letting the beauty of your ride buoy you along. That beauty belongs to you.
Reply to this comment
2 years ago