April 8, 2008

The Highest Point in Pennsylvania

It's not widely known outside of this household that I have a goal to bicycle to the highest point in all 50 states. Well, at least the highest point that is accessible via bicycle, generally on a paved road. It is a lofty goal indeed, but I'm not super strict about the rules... and I'm not in any huge hurry. I just like riding.

As of last week I had 4 states down, including some big ones (Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, & Hawaii). When I was planning my trip to Washington D.C. this past weekend I took a quick glance at some web sites and saw that Pennsylvania & Maryland had high points that were not very far out of my way (additionally West Virginia, Ohio, & Indiana, but I thought two would suffice for a single weekend). So I took my bike and thought if I had time I would ride them, if not no big deal.

The route from Meyersdale to the summit of Mt. Davis

I drove for nine or so hours by the time I reached Meyersdale, PA, at the foot of Mt. Davis. The weather was nice, and I was sick of driving, so I rode. As I was coming into town I noticed there were many wind generators perched atop the rolling hills. As soon as I stepped out of the car I realized why. It was windy. Really windy. And unfortunately, it was going to be a headwind the entire way up Mt. Davis.

Wind generators near Meyersdale, PA

The elevation of Meyersdale was 1935 ft. and the summit of Mt. Davis is 3213-ish ft. So it was a decent change in elevation, but it was no Mauna Kea. As I began the 10 mile ride to the summit I quickly realized this climb was going to be a little different than many of the previous mountains I have ridden. It was really just one large rolling hill after another. It wasn't very steep (the average grade was 3.2%, with one short 13% section). There were no switchbacks. The strong headwind made it tough, and I didn't have the best legs after nine hours of driving, so it was slow going.

A sign directing visitors to Mt. Davis with rolling hills in the background

I rode through lots of farmland and passed many people I assume were Amish. There were several horse drawn buggies and a few diesel powered tractors (diesel is apparently okay for the Amish). Everyone waved and seemed rather friendly.

Towards the top the landscape finally turned from large rolling hills into a real actual climb. It got a little steeper at this point, but it was still managable. There was a picnic area at the summit, a sign indicating the significance of the location, and a short distance away was an observation tower. The wind made walking up the tower stairs an interesting experience, but I survived.

Rob at the summit of Mt. Davis, PA

View of Meyersdale, PA from observation tower at summit of Mt. Davis

Mt. Davis ride elevation profile

The long, straight roads and strong tailwind allowed for some fast descending. At one point I passed a group of Amish children who all waved to me as I sped past at 35 mph. When I returned to Meyersdale, I packed up my bike, got back in the car, and drove the remaining three hours to D.C. It was a good way to break up the monotony of driving such a long distance in one day.

High Point Ride Information
Date:2008-04-04 3:19 PM EDT
High Point:Mt. Davis
Elevation:3213 feet
Climb Distance:3.5 miles
Climb Ascent:1010 feet
Climb Average Grade:5.4%
Climb Maximum Grade:13%
Ride Distance:19.4 miles
Ride Total Ascent:1973 feet
Ride Maximum Speed:45.7 miles/hour
Ride Start:Meyersdale, PA (1935 feet)
Ride End:Meyersdale, PA (1935 feet)


Anonymous said...

WOW--- WHAT A TRIP......... that is one handsome dude with the PENNSYLVANIA HIGHEST POINT SIGN in the background----- After those long hours in the car, there is NO WAY my legs would have been anything but a mass of RUBBER--- AHHHH, to be YOUNG!!!! Glad you made it there and back ........ I loved hearing all about it. Thanks..... hugs , Nan

Anonymous said...

I am speechless...

Just when I think I have you figured out, you spring something like this on me.

You are just full of surprises, aren't you?

It just doesn't seem right that one person in this family got all the endurance, energy, ambition, independence, stamina, height, skinny bod and good looks! (well, your brothers might debate a couple of those traits, especially that last one)...

Congratulations on getting one state closer to your goal. If anybody can do it, YOU da Man!

I love you,

Anonymous said...

awesome rob!

aunt jeanne and brody

Anonymous said...

i was wondering what meyersdale was like and i came upon your site. it's informative and it's nice to find a site with current info. (the bicycling sounds like fun too.)
sherry, washington, dc