Monday, July 1, 2013

I Want to Ride My Bicycle - Day 5

Day 5:

After another decent night in the hammock, I was up and out at 7:15am.  I knew today was going to be a long day, but the temperature was very tolerable, in fact I was actually cold for a while until I got riding.

Pretty early in the day, I came across a biker stopped on the trail and looking up across the river.  His name was Chris and he had just flushed an eagle from this side of the river.  It had moved across the water and was waiting for us to leave.  I couldn't get a view of it, but it was cool to know they were in the area.

I continued along the Yough in the morning coolness and before long, I came to Connellsville.  After going through the town, right down Third St, I started out of town and came upon a small park where they had two adirondack shelters with tables a grill and water nearby.  The shelters were a lot like the ones on the AT, but very new.  I checked them out and made a note for any future trips to the area.  Shortly after that, I passed the Rivers Edge Campground.  This is a developed campground, but could also be a resource for a night's stay.

Connellsville Shelter
The day just started to fly by.  It still wasn't too hot and even though it seemed that I was out in the open more, I didn't feel like I was getting baked by the sun.  More campgrounds and small villages passed by as I steadily pedaled to my goal of Bellevue, PA

At Cedar Creek Park, they have some very nice tent pads and good trees for hanging.  In the corner of the park, overlooking the river sat this shelter.  Modelled after the ones I have stayed in on the Laurel Highlands Trail.  It has a nice stone fireplace facing into the shelter.  Very cool.  I rested here and ate lunch on my last day of the trip.

Cedar Creek Shelter
Next I rode through West Newton.  From here into Boston, the trail seemed to get a little bland.  The trail is pretty far from the river and it seemed like I was riding behind a bunch of back yards, out in the open with the sun shining down on me.  One of the interesting places I passed was an old coal mining "company" town by the name of Whitsett.  They had an old picture from back in the early 1900s and you could still make out the same houses with their identical double chimneys off in the distance.  

Another place I stopped was some very fresh picnic tables and one of those pre-fab cabins with a bunch of bikes, kayaks and stand up paddle boards sitting outside.  I talked to the guy there and they were a new venture that had just started up.  The owner of the land had plans to make the area into a park.  It seemed pretty nice and would be a great place to work.  

I could tell I was getting close to the Burgh when I started seeing stores names like the one below.

Scoops N'at  
I had seen a couple other snakes on my trip, but I stopped and came around to get a picture of this guy sunning himself on the trail.  Not the best location to pick, but very visible for all passersby.

Black Snake
 When I got to Boston, I was resting and reading a sign that showed two possible routes into McKeesport.  I had my iPod on, which I had started using in the afternoons to help me motivate myself to keep going and I heard someone ask me which was I was heading.  When I figured out where the person was addressing me, I saw David, a trail volunteer and we had a nice conversation as I refilled my water bottles.  He asked for some help if I had the time as I was about the youngest person in the area.  He needed help moving some picnic tables so he could cut the grass.  It was a nice diversion from the constant pedaling and I quickly agreed to help.  It was an easy task and before long, I was back on the trail, taking the alternate route that David recommended that would bypass some of the road riding, avoid a hill and give me more paved trail.

 As I moved along the edge of McKeesport I was eventually led to this 100 year old railroad bridge.  I was now on the Steel Valley Trail which had become a part of the GAP.

I crossed the Monongahela River on this old bridge and continued along the South Side.   

Mon River
I passed through Duquesne and into Homestead.  The trail runs along the active tracks and every once in awhile would go up to a footbridge and pass over the tracks.  I passed the Pump House where one of the bloodiest battles of the labor/management conflicts between the steel workers and Andrew Carnegie occurred. The 1892  tussle was called The Battle of Homestead and was between thousands of workers, their families and supporters armed with sticks, rocks and guns against 300 Pinkerton Men hired by Carnegie.  Ten people were killed and the PA Governor sent in Militiamen at Henry Frick's (Carnegie's partner)  request .

Shortly after the Pump House is this interesting labyrinth.  I took a nice break here under the shade of one small tree and enjoyed the view.

Soon I passed the old Homestead Steel Works, which is now a shopping center with a big movie theater.  One of Lisa and my Adventure Races had us getting information off the stacks as a control point a few years ago.
Before long I was passing through Sandcastle the brand new last part of the trail.  This amusement park had been a stopping point in the trail for quite a few years.  The original owners had finally sold the park and the new owners were much more agreeable in making the deal that enabled the trail to continue all the way to the  Point.

After Sandcastle the GAP now incorporates the Three Rivers Heritage Trail.  This is the trail that I would basically follow into the Northside and home.

I took another rest outside the Steelers South Side Training Facility.  I always like checking this place out.

From there I crossed the Mon again on the Hot Metal Bridge and was now following the Parkway East for a while.  At one point I was actually moving faster than the traffic as it was now around 4:00pm and rush hour had started.
Cathedral of Learning

First view of the city buildings
 I stopped at a Golden Triangle Bike Rental shop that was another stop on our Adventure Race and talked to a girl working there as I stood under the mist spray and refilled my water bottle for the last time.

From there I just followed some green signs to the Point as I rode the streets of Pittsburgh.  A couple out on a bike ride started following me because I guess I looked like I knew where I was going, but after warning them that I wasn't an expert, we all saw the fountain and homed in.

I took a couple pictures of Heinz Field and the Fountain and then headed across the Ft Duquesne Bridge to the North Shore.

The Fountain at The Point
From there I followed the Ohio River on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail by the Stadium, the Science Center and the Casino and into the North Side.

When I came to the Penitentiary, I hit the streets and headed up to California Ave.  It was quite a climb and I had done it before, but with all the weight I was carrying I didn't even try to ride it.  The walk was a nice pace change and I was so close to my goal, I could taste it.

Once I got to California Ave, it was just a few short blocks until I was crossing the Bellevue High Bridge and was entering the Borough I had grown up in.  I literally hit the bricks of the Bellevue streets and pulled up in front of 199 Irwin Ave at 5:45pm on the fifth day of my trip.  I had accomplished my goal of riding "Home" from Washington, DC.

I walked into my house and my Dad wasn't even surprised to see me.  Others who had been following my progress had informed him of my quest.

I was home...

My bike computer said I had done 83.5 miles in 7 hours and 52 minutes of riding time and a total travel time of 10 hours and 30 minutes.  The computer also had a grand total mileage of 351.5 miles.

Other math says the 184.5 mile C&O + the 150 mile GAP + the two extra miles I did in DC + the 5.8 miles from the Point to my house. My total trip was somewhere around 342.3 Miles.  My side trips in towns and at Ft Frederick would knock that up a little more, so I'm good with saying it was a nice 350 mile trip.

Tomorrow: Five Days in Pittsburgh (and Conneaut and Bruin) Where I went for a record number of days eating burgers off the grill.

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