Okay, I did it! I took the Great Allegheny Passage from the confluence of the Monongahela and Youghiogheny Rivers in McKeesport, PA, (A southeastern Pittsburgh suburb) to Cumberland, Maryland, and then continued there on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath to Georgetown. The distance with detours was 327 miles. My time was 35 hours and 45 minutes. If anyone has another time, please let me know. I would like to keep a table on my blog of bicycle trips on this path. I did the first 400k in under regulation time of 26 hours and 26 minutes. (The Audax Club Parisien allows up to 27 hours for a brevet of 400 kilometers.) I did the first 300 miles in 33 hours and 8 minutes. That is just barely above 9 miles per hour. Since the Audax Club Parisien only allows 4 hours for a 600k brevet, which would mean an average of 9.3 MPH, I guess it is a bad time. I didn’t take any sleep breaks, but bad luck with flat tire slowed me down. The overall time for all 327 miles was also just barely above 9 mph. But those stones of the C&O are so hard on the hands and but and feet. I think hills would definitely have been easier.
The scariest part was going through the Paw Paw Tunnel by myself at about 1:30 in the morning. Every hair on my body was standing on edge for some reason. No big deal once in really. A bat flew around me some. The approach was just awfully lonely to that hole in the mountainside.
The night before the big adventure, I stayed at the Yough Shore Inn in Boston, PA. I highly recommend it. Very cheap. Very friendly owner, by the name of Lynne. Loves to chat with cyclists. Has 7 entertainingly decorated rooms. The day I arrived, she had just had new paintings airbrushed onto the walls. I stayed in the Wild West Room, replete with mechanical horse, a sombrero, a monkey with a small sombrero and a red bra hanging from a wagon wheel chandelier.
I did have hallucinations in the morning twilight. I think I was starting to drowse off as I continued to cycle down the towpath about 11 mph. A fellow I know from ice-skating who is rather large and favors a green sweatshirt suddenly appeared to me in the moonlight. That woke me up some. I continued to see people who weren’t there the rest of the day out of the corner of my eye, but none were as real as Mat.