Tom’s GAP and C&O Five Star Awards

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On my ride across the GAP and C&O I discovered quite a bit about myself and my cycling. Each day posed new opportunities and experiences. It was one of the most enjoyable weeks I have had in my life. I discovered that cycling was less about how many miles we cycled every day but more about the people you meet on the trail. Chuck and I met a wide variety of people and visited many places on our bicycle tour. I wanted to highlight some of the people and places who really made our trip special. Here you have them, my five star awards from the trail.

River’s Edge Bed and Breakfast in Confluence, Pennsylvania changed how Chuck and I were to tour for the week. As novice bicycle tourists, our first few days were rough as we learned the ropes of touring. Beat up pretty bad in Ohiopyle; we knew we needed a change in itinerary. We opted to abandon primitive camping for the evening and spend the night at the River’s Edge.

The innkeeper welcomed us. She had a secure storage area for the bikes. A hose was handy to clean the bikes. The bed and breakfast was a charming Victorian cottage with rooms over looking the river. Clean and nicely appointed; it made for a comfortable evening. An added bonus was dinner on the inn’s restaurant porch over looking the river. I don’t think you can find a nicer place along the GAP to spend an evening or weekend.

Yoder’s Motel in Meyersdale, Pennsylvania was an enjoyable trip back in time. We were not certain what to expect from the motel. I called for reservations as we left Confluence and was told they operated on a cash only basis. It was a bargain at $55 a night, tax included. We cycled down the hill into downtown Meyersdale expecting to find an old fashioned small town motel. We were surprised to see a three story Victorian home with leaded glass windows.

Again, the innkeeper greeted us in the parking lot, showed us to a secured walk out basement for our bikes and supplies, and welcomed us to the inn. The interior of Yoder’s Motel is interesting to say the least. It is a combination rooming house and motel. The decor is definitely stuck in the 70s. If you are looking for a highly styled Holiday Inn Express, this is not the place for you. We did however find an extremely clean room and very friendly innkeeper. This motel exemplifies the real character of cycling through small towns. I can also affirm that the people of Meyersdale were the friendliest we came upon on our trip.

The G. I. Dayroom in Meyersdale was recommended by the innkeeper at Yoder’s Motel as an ideal breakfast spot. It was only a few blocks walk through downtown. From the outside, we knew immediately that we were in store for a genuine small town diner experience. It did not disappoint us.

The G. I. Dayroom is an unpretentious family run small town diner that offers a menu of good old fashioned comfort food. The menu proudly highlights their use of real maple syrup (Meyersdale is the maple capitol of Pennsylvania.) and smiley face pancakes. We had delicious omelets with me sampling the pancakes. Excellent was both our verdicts. The staff was so welcoming. The owner who happened to be the cook sat with us talking about the positive impact of the GAP on the diner. I would not even consider cycling the GAP again without a stop in for a breakfast or lunch at the G. I. Dayroom.

The Desert Rose Café in Williamsport, Maryland was recommended in several trip journals I had read. It was a logical choice since it is just a few blocks up the hill from the C&O Williamsport Visitors’ Center. What landed the café on my five star list was a combination of things. First was Rose’s smiling face and welcoming manner to cyclists. Second was the café’s vibes. It was bright and cheerful with a fun menu of sandwiches, soups, lunch items and coffee shop fair. .

The café demonstrates the value of being welcoming to C&O travelers and daytrip visitors. The friendliness and small town atmosphere makes all the difference. By this time on our tour, it had become pretty obvious that people who embrace the trail and target the trail users understand the economic impact they can have on their business. These five star places and people also are very welcoming and take pride in their businesses and product.

Beans in the Belfry was an afterthought for Chuck and me. It was close to our evening destination. We had arrived in late afternoon and thought it was too early for dinner. We stopped in and ended up enjoying the hospitality. It proved to be one of those stops that made the day so much more enjoyable. We sat outside, chatted, enjoyed free WI-FI and before we knew it a few hours had passed.

The coffee shop menu with interesting sandwiches enticed us to stay for dinner. We both had a delicious turkey panini. In terms of being cyclist friendly, this place gets an A+. The waitress offered to fill our coolers with ice free of charge. We needed to buy bottled water. The owner offered us frozen bottles of water, a treat on our hot summer ride. Again, there was the welcoming friendly small town approach.

There you have it. My five star winners on the GAP & C&O. I can honestly say that I generally had good experiences on this trip. These five businesses are just a sampling of the friendly places and people we met. I hope this gives you a taste of what you can expect on a future visit of the GAP or C&O.

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