Monday, August 20—Cycling the GAP, Meyersdale to Deal to Cumberland

After quickly packing for an overnight trip and eating breakfast, the group was shuttled from Mt. Pleasant to Meyersdale for the start of our 150-mile bicycle trip.

Enroute to Meyersdale

Our first segment of the GAP was from Meyersdale, Pennsylvania, to Cumberland, Maryland, a distance of 32 miles.

Readying bicycles at Meyersdale for the ride

Trailhead at Meyersdale is a restored railroad station

Kay and I are ready to ride

Because we were pedaling from north to south today, we began at Meyersdale at approximate Mile 32 of the GAP.

At mile 29, just three miles down the trail, we rode across the 900-foot Keystone Viaduct which provided a great view of the railroads passing underneath.

Keystone Viaduct

Lunch was at Deal, at approximate mile 25, and included self-made pita wraps, salad, chips, cookies, and GORP. It began drizzling, and then turned into a light rain that was to last the rest or the day’s ride.

Lunch at Deal

Another three miles down the trail, all at an uphill grade of about 2 percent, we crossed the eastern continental divide at mile 22, separating waters going into the Mississippi River basin from those going into the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. This is the highest point on the GAP at 2375 feet above sea level, and from here the trail is downhill both directions.

At approximate mile 21, just a mile downhill from the Eastern Continental Divide, the Big Savage Mountain blocked the trail, but an almost 3,300-foot tunnel (appropriately named the Big Savage Tunnel built in 1910-1912 and rebuilt for trail use in 2002) passed through the mountain. Here, bicycle headlights were essential for seeing one’s way along the tunnel floor.

Big Savage Tunnel

The trail crossed from Pennsylvania into Maryland at approximate mile 20. This boundary, commonly known as the Mason Dixon Line, was established by English surveyors in the 1760s to resolve a land dispute between the Penns of Pennsylvania and the Calverts of Maryland. It is commonly considered to separate the north from the south.

Mason Dixon Line Monument

Light colored brick is the Mason Dixon Line

Mason Dixon Line Monuments
We had another break some 9 miles further down the trail, before riding 16 miles to Cumberland, MD, where we overnighted near Mile “0” of the GAP at the Fairfield Inn and Suites, a very bicycle friendly hotel. We washed our bicycles at the hotel at a special wash rack before checking in, and then soothed sore muscles in the hot tub and pool before dinner at the Baltimore Street Grill.

Another of several tunnels through which we pedaled


Despite rain, the scenic Allegheny Mountains provided a great backdrop for a good, mostly downhill ride. Regretfully, Kay and I did not ride together, and there are few photos of her.

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