Great Allegheny Passage

For years now I’ve wanted to bike from Pittsburgh to Washington DC.  I asked David if he’d like to do it for Thanksgiving break and he was down.  David’s a great biking partner, has lots of experience and has biked from Canada to Florida, and the West Coast of the US, multiple times.  He knows how to self-support tour, and bike maintenance– two things I don’t have.  I have ridden tours before but never carried my own gear.   It felt good to know I had a strong and experienced rider with me, as well as the best company.
We set out to do the GAP (Great Allegheny Passage) and C&O but only did the GAP–and thank goodness for that.
If it hadn’t been for David encouraging that we (me) take our time, and enjoy the ride without worrying about the destination it would have been a less pleasurable ride.  We did
the hardest part of the ride (the GAP is uphill, the C&O is downhill) and still got to enjoy it.

David and Elena bike the GAP

We started in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and biked out with our final ostentation being Cumberland, Maryland.
We had our first hiccup before we’d even made it out of the parking lot when David’s chain broke.  We got a new chain in the strip mall near the path and off we went again. A few miles in, David’s derailer cracked and fell off.  Within the first 15 miles of our ride we got to stop for two mechanicals.  After that we didn’t have any mechanical issues until about mile 140 of the GAP when I got a flat.  In total we did about 160 miles.  I am looking forward to doing it again but when the weather is warm.

Day 1
Munhall, PA to Connellsville, PA (approximately 52 miles)
-uphill, in freshly laid wet sand—slowed us down more than we’d anticipated.  Camped in Connellsville at a free site with an adirondack.  Fires weren’t permitted and the weather hovered in the low thirties.  Had pizza for dinner in Connellsville.

Day 2
Connellsville, PA to Rockwood, PA (approximately 46 miles)
-uphill no more wet sand–thank goodness! Weather was warm in the mid 50s, we even stopped at around 20 miles to take a walk down a foot path with a directional arrow that said “Gorge”.
Slept in a campground in Rockwood that charged $10 per person, provided firewood and newspaper as an igniter…but man it was freezing, in the twenties.   This was the night we realized that my sleeping bag was not for cold weather.

Day 3
Rockwood, PA to Cumberland, MD (approximately 45 miles)
Mostly uphill.  Got a flat tire and had to walk 5 miles before I got to a bike pump.
Got lost in Frostburg but also had the best meal of the trip at a little place David found, called SHiFT.  You can now see a pic of the two of us on their wall of cyclists.
From Frostburg to the Cumberland Amtrak was a super speedy downhill ride.

Day 4
Amtrak Station in Pittsburgh to Munhall, PA (approximately 10 miles)
I am not sure about calling this a full day, as we arrived at the station a little before midnight at the end of day 3 and only rode 10 miles to the car/where we started on the GAP.  It was an easy ride from station to car, although difficult to get on to the path from the station and we got a bit lost, the darkness and exhaustion also added to the adventure.

Ladies and Mountain Bikes

I participated in a mountain bike race in Tunchang, Hainan, China, I believe February before last.

Elenamary in Tunchang, Hainan International Mountain Bike Race

Elenamary in Tunchang, Hainan              International Mountain Bike Race

There were to be prizes for the top finishers in the men and women’s categories. At some point during the day, it was decided that the prize money that was originally to be awarded to the 3 first placing women would be given instead to the men.    They then added on the amount of money and the number of places that would be given prizes in the men’s categories thus completely eliminating any prize for the women.  As annoying, as it was, it was not my country nor culture, and I was pleased enough to have been invited to compete.

I received an invite earlier this week to be a spectator in Taxco, Mexico (my hometown) for the Down Hill Taxco 2012 mountain bike race at the beginning of November.  It looked so awesome that I messaged the organizers and asked if there was still room to compete and if not could I at least volunteer.  I received a response back that competition was by invitation only and nothing to my question about volunteering.   It seemed odd to me, and so I messaged back and asked how many women had been invited to participate.  In fact I have now messaged them a total of 6 times asking how many women have been invited to participate without a single response.  I’m guessing the answer is that zero women were invited, and zero will compete.  Here is a promotional youtube video of the race a few years ago, when it was then sponsored by Red Bull beverage.  The only pictures or videos I have ever seen of women participating were of women scantly dressed as Red Bull cheerleaders or as beauty queens for the competition.  What are the men afraid of that they won’t even invite a woman to compete?

I am going to re write this in Spanish and send this to the organizers in Mexico, letting them know that yes mountain bike racing in China was sexiest but at least they never stopped us ladies from participating.