I actually got an early start this morning, leaving the campground a little after 8:00. I only rode a little bit to the next town called Little Orleans where they were supposed to have a store of some sort. Turns out, it is part cafe and part convenience store. Unfortunately, the cafe did not serve breakfast and the store did not have much selection. I ended up getting a packages sweet roll for breakfast. While I was eating, an eastbound cyclist pulled up. We chatted for a bit and he guaranteed that the GAP was a much nicer riding surface, drains better and is not covered in mud. I guess I will found out. Because it has not rained since yesterday morning, the canal trail started to dry out in places. Other places still have plenty of mud, though.
Today’s route took me through the Paw Paw Tunnel. The Paw Paw Tunnel is a little more than half a mile long. The towpath through the tunnel in narrow with a rough surface, a wall on one side and a fall on the other. There is a wood railing to keep people from falling in the canal, but with my weight and the extra weight of the bicycle, I wasn’t sure how much to trust the railing. Most cyclists I saw in the tunnel walked their bikes. I straddled my bike with one foot on the pedal and the other kicking like a skate board. There are no lights in the tunnel. You can see the lights at either end, but the tunnel gets very dark. Even though you can see the other end from when you enter, it never seems to get any closer until you are just about out.
Just past the tunnel is the town of Paw Paw. Another great name for a town. I left the trail for a bit to get something caffeinated and decided to eat lunch at a picnic table at the local gas station. Paw Paw seems to be one of those small towns where everyone knows everyone else. As I at eating and watching people come and go. Everyone was greeting everyone else.
As I got closer to Cumberland, the mud got worse until the last couple of miles. Fortunately, there is a bike shop on the route between the C&O and the GAP, perfect location for a bike shop. They had a hose that they let people use to clean their bikes. I gave mine a quick shower to get most of the gunk off.
I was under the impression that there was a campground at Cumberland. I think, though, that the map was referring to the campground I had passed about five miles before the city. When I’m tired and grumpy, I don’t make good decisions. I decided, rather than backtrack a few miles, to get a motel room. The first thing I did was shower. It felt good to wash off five days worth of mud, sweat, sunblock and bug repellant. It was almost worth the price of the motel.
There was a Taco Bell a couple of blocks from the motel. So, I guess, in the end, it was a pretty good day.