Our Bicycle Trip from Pittsburgh to DC

 Greetings.  I am happy to report that we are each safely back in our homes after our latest adventure.  We gave you a preview last week, and if you followed us on Instagram, you were able to keep up with our progress as Mom, Dad, and I rode our bicycles from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington, DC.  This is the fourth  year my parents have done this ride, and I told them that I would love to tag along one time with them.  You know that saying, “It takes a village?”  Well, it took some good coordinating from my brother, parents and I to get this trip accomplished.  Luckily, an event that my mom was in charge of and worked on for a year took place on Friday, Sept. 26 so she was free to leave the next day.  I was at the Navy game in Annapolis for Yankee’s tenth class reunion.  (Sadly, Navy lost).  My brother lives in DC, and so, this is how it went down.  After the game I went to his place in DC, and we took the train to Pittsburgh.  Meanwhile, my parents drove to Pittsburgh and brought the bikes.  (For all of you cyclists out there, Mom and I rode hybrids, and Dad used his mountain bike.  Road bikes wouldn’t be good on this trail). We all met up in a hotel there, and my brother drove the parents’ SUV back to DC, and we pedaled back.

Pittsburgh-DC by bike

My brother took this shot as we were leaving our hotel in Pittsburgh which was right beside where the trail begins.  My parents have always done the ride in the fall because the leaves are changing colors.  We all had clothes for warm, cool, and/or rainy weather.  Luckily, it only rained a few minutes on the second afternoon.

 

 

Pittsburgh-DC by bike

For about the first 15 miles we were in the city, suburbs, and industrial parks, and then we entered the woods where we would spend most of our six days. As we pedaled along everything was more rural, and we saw very few people.  There were often benches along the way that were dedicated to deceased people.

 

 

Pittsburgh-DC by bike

Also, as we neared small towns, we often saw trail-side parks that the locals cared for.

 

 

Pittsburg-DC by bike

Mom said she had always wanted a photo of this small waterfall, and I was glad to serve as her model.  We took all of the photos with her iphone, and they turned out fine.

 

 

Pittsburgh-DC by bike

 The entire ride took six days, and the trail is divided into two sections.  We spent the first three days riding on the Allegheny Passage Trail from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, MD.  It was once a railroad track that has been turned into a bike/hike/horse trail.  Then as we were leaving Cumberland on the morning of day four, we got on the C & O Canal tow path to DC.  The canal was built in the 1800’s and the path that we used was the path the mules used to pull the canal boats.  This trail was more rustic and rugged.

 

 

Pittsburgh-DC by bike

There were many photo opportunities along the way, but if we had stopped at all of them, we might still be cycling.

 

 

Pittsburgh-DC by bike

Depending on how high we were in the mountains determined how colorful the scenery was.

 

 

Pittsburgh-DC by bike

We saw quirky sites along the way, too.  We carried our gear in pannier bags on our bikes and stayed at B & B’s three nights and hotels three nights.  We wanted to stay at B & B’s all of the nights, but some were booked already.  We stopped along the way for lunch on the first three days, and before leaving town on days four, five and six, we bought lunch at convenience stores had picnics at some of the many picnic tables along the trail.  There were no places to stop to buy food on the canal trail until the last fourteen miles out of DC.

 

 

Pittsburgh-DC by bike

The mornings were often foggy.

 

 

Pittsburgh-DC by bike

Dad had to stop sometimes to do run his companies, and that gave Mom and me a chance to rest.  We averaged 60 miles of pedaling each day.  It was kind of like being in a spinning class that was six to seven hours long.  Because the trail was flat, we didn’t have much chance to just coast along.

 

 

Pittsburgh - DC by bike

We saw mileage charts along the way to keep us updated on our progress.

 

 

Pittsburgh-DC by bike

A train museum in Meyersdale, PA had a map which was had pins from their visitors’ hometowns.

 

 

Pittsburgh-DC by bike

Train travel really has changed.  These beautiful dishes were once used in the dining cars.  Now we get plastic.

 

 

Pittsburgh-DC by bike

While we were taking this photo, some kids who were home-schooled were riding around on their bicycles.  I guess it was their recess.

 

 

Pittsburgh-DC by bike

When we took this shot, these windmills looked so far away.  We eventually rode right beside them.

 

 

Pittsburgh-DC by bike

We crossed both the Continental Divide……

 

 

Pittsburgh-DC by bike

……and the Mason Dixon line.

 

Lock houses

Once we started riding on the canal trail on day four, the terrain and sites changed.  There were many locks along the canal, and when they were in operation, people lived in “lock houses” so they could open and close the locks for the boats.  The lock houses were all simple, but each had its own personality.  The national park system has restored some of the houses, and they can be rented for overnight stays.

 

IMG_1116

Those last three days required a lot of concentration because the trail was muddy in spots, slippery from wet leaves, and had ruts that we had to avoid.  Here I am in front of Charles Mill, and since my husband’s name is Charles (you know him as Yankee) Mom took a photo.

 

Pittsburg-DC

Pittsburgh-DC by bike

There is a tourist center located on the trail about 14 miles outside of DC.  Since it was a pretty day and a Saturday, there were lots of cyclists and walkers on the trail.  We were happy to see this modern-day boat showing how it all worked with the mules and boats back in the day.

 

 

Pittsburgh-DC by bike

All of the people who worked at the center were in period costume.

 

 

Pittsburgh-DC by bike

I love how the mule tipped his ear for the photo.

 

 

Pittsburgh-DC by bike

Pittsburgh-DC by bike

Without fanfare, we arrived at our final destination, Lock number one, in the middle of busy downtown Georgetown.  We were still safe, happy, and enthused about our trip.

 

Pittsburgh-DC by bike

My parents plan to make the trip again next year, but I have to get some rest first.  Then I’ll decide!!!

Cheers!

Comments

  1. says

    What a great trip!….I will be showing this post to my hubby who loves to ride!…We often ride the Creeper Trail in Virginia…but it is just a day trip….When he retires, he hopes to hike the Appalachian Trail…a huge undertaking….Loved following you along with Instagram…congrats on accomplishing your goal!!