Confluence, PA


September 25, 2009

I'll never forget Confluence, PA.

First off, it's a beautiful little town tucked in the valley right along the Great Allegheny Passage Trail. Some of these small towns look like they are straight from a movie set where it seems everything is perfect. It's hard not to feel great when you find a rest spot in one of them.

Except Confluence, PA had a small quirk. Everything wasn't quite so perfect.

They had no cell coverage at all.

Cell phone coverage at this point was looming as rather important. I had told Julian (my support vehicle driver) that I would either call it a day in Confluence or Rockwood and for him to meet me there. There was a 30 mile difference.

And no cell coverage or meeting places in between.

For a guy on a bike...a TIRED guy on a bike...cell coverage at this point became pretty darn crucial. I was running all over that town with my cell phone in the air trying to find something.


The townspeople would see me and chime in, "Every once in awhile if you stand in the middle of the bridge,  you get something." That didn't work for me. 

"Three miles up the mountain...there's a church. That's where people go." Since I heard that twice, I had no choice. I got on my bike and began praying in my unique fashion that the church was closer than three miles.

Normally, an extra three miles out-and-back on a bike is something you get used to. I've learned to live with the "small detour" possibility on my cross-country jaunt, so you just go with the flow and maybe start singing so your brain doesn't have time to complain. However, this was different. This was straight up.

It was Rocky Mountain steepness.

Times 1 1/2.

Of course, I made it up and down again...but my legs felt wobbly the rest of the day. Any time I stood later that day, I found myself leaning on that old bike just for a bit of leg support.

And by the way, Julian did meet Rockwood.

I went the extra thirty.  

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Shawn Anderson                                                 (310) 402-4826