Although I had been excited about this ride when we had planned it several months ago, I had too many other things on my mind the week leading up to the ride. I just started my first class of the fall and had a paper I had to write. I had a regional chapter meeting that I had needed to prepare for. And I was told I was being put on furlough because the federal government was shutting down. I was a little stressed out when I got to Pittsburgh.
The meeting went well. I eventually wrote up my paper and turned it in (although not without some technical difficulties), and then I got ready for the ride.
Sunday morning, Jane, Nathan, and I met in the garage of our hotel. While I was trying to get the hotel’s computer to send my paper to my professor, they had made my rear tube explode from inflating it and then replaced it with a new one. (Hmm– seems like this has happened before.) Once we got our gear together, we headed out to Point State Park to Mile 0 of the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) trail.
I was fortunate enough to connect with Vannevar Bush over Twitter. He offered to escort us from Mile 0 to the GAP Trail, as the signage has not yet been completed. We met up at the park, along with his friends S and R. Our friends, David and Steve, soon followed. Introductions were given, photos were taken, and then we set out on our ride.
(What’s with the duck? It’s part of Pittsburgh’s International Festival of Firsts. Here’s the link to the Rubber Duck Project.)
We made a stop at Big Dog Coffee, to indulge my coffeeneuring pursuits. So, for the record:
Coffeeneuring Stop #1
Big Dog Coffee
Sunday, October 6, 2013
Iced herbal tea
4.4 miles from Point State Park
We really couldn’t have asked for a better day to ride. It was sunny and unseasonably warm. Our escorts were super friendly and pointed out various Pittsburgh landmarks and provided us with the history. One notable landmark was the Pump House in Homestead, PA, the site of 1892 Battle of Homestead, where the steel workers fought against Henry Clay Frick’s Pinkerton agents for better labor conditions.
Our escorts bid us a safe journey somewhere around McKeesport, and they turned around while we forged ahead. (Vannevar’s account of our ride can be found on his blog.)
We stopped at the visitor’s center in West Newton, PA. I bought a short-sleeved jersey because I was feeling pretty hot. As we came out of the building, we saw a couple who were on bikes for a leisurely ride. We chatted with them for a while, and asked them for a recommendation for a lunch spot.
Here’s where the story gets a little fuzzy for me. They recommended a place a couple miles down the road, and I had heard them say that it was pricey, but we looked like we could afford it. My friends said they heard the guy say that we appeared to be “pampered” folks. Really?
We had a good laugh about that over lunch, which was not expensive by our standards, although the service left a lot to be desired. Being pampered would be a running joke throughout our trip.
About twenty miles later, we arrived in Dawson, PA, where we would spend the night. We arrived at the guest house and got cleaned up. We then headed out to Phil’s Nite Club, where we listened to classic rock tunes on the jukebox, ate spicy fried cheese balls, and met Phil and his dog. A good first day.