Current mood: chipper
I started out the day yesterday hoping I would not have to ride in the rain. Because of a prior commitment, my son had the bus pass for the whole day, yet I needed to make an early morning trip. OK, bike, out ya' come, we're going for a little ride...
Yah, right, a little ride. Here's what came down.
It wasn't raining but the streets were still wet from the storm an hour before. My destination was Port Authority of Allegheny County's old HQ in the Manchester part of the city, about 9 miles distant. The trip is simple: Perry Hwy into West View, then follow the 500 routing to California at Marshall, carry the bike down the steps, cross the street, and walk into the building. However, I don't like the weave/merge area where California, Marshall, Rt 65 and Beaver all come together, so I dropped off California at Antrim, down to McClure to Eckert to Beaver. Lots less traffic, and what's there is slower.
I was done there around noon, so decided to try out the river trail. I especially wanted to test the detour around the casino construction. Finding the trail was not difficult -- there are signs everywhere -- and following it is child's play. The biggest problem is not clobbering people out for lunchtime walks, as there are several pinch points to discourage motorized traffic.
The detour headed me back over to Beaver Avenue, where a helpful sign suggested I walk the bike on the sidewalk. Well, if I can handle Perry Highway, I can handle 200 feet of Beaver Avenue, though being on the sidewalk was easier to make the crossing of Beaver at a traffic light easier. A couple of quick turns later put me on Columbus, heading east. Then the signs disappeared. They've only been up there a few weeks, but apparently someone has nabbed at least one for his/her bedroom. I eventually re-found the trail detour on West North Ave after wiggling around some residential side streets in Manchester, a few houses on which actually looked like they might have legal, permanent residents, but only a few. (That neighborhood still needs a lot of work.) A quick turn or two later, and I was past the Science Center and down to river's edge. I was quite careful not to take a turn into the river itself, or knock anyone else in that direction. Keeping one's speed down helped.
Mid-day, overhead sun, late June. I was already hot, but decided to take a quick swing through Downtown, if only to find out the BikeFest site. From Manchester to Penn Avenue measures about five miles, so I'm at about 14 miles for the day, so far.
Then back again over the river to the river trail, and headed upstream. I checked out the trail onto Herr's Island, which uses an abandoned railroad bridge. Boy it'd be nice if there was a switchback structure like that to get from the Birmingham Bridge down to the jail trail. Seems all you'd need is a pre-fab design, a foundation, a bridge connection, and a million bucks, nothing reeeeally special.
Back over the 30th St Bridge (adjacent to the 31st St Bridge, but only to Herr's I.), back down to the trail, I zinged along to Millvale. I don't really care for that circle at Rt 28, but there's no way to avoid it. I got across it as best I could, but chose not to take Evergreen, at least not at first. I tried a brick back street, which although was traffic free, came close to rattling some delicate body parts loose. (Note to self: Next time, stick to paved streets.) I picked up Evergreen as soon as feasible, and got on my way.
It was really hot, and I was sure I'd lost a lot of fluid, so stopped at Rita's Italian Ices for water and something cold. I'd hoped the girl would give me a 12-ounce cup of water, but only got a 4-ounce. I tried not to make a pest of myself asking for refills while she made the really cold thing I had paid for, but I was close to being in bad shape. (Note to self: Get a water bottle and bracket for the bike.) The really cold thing cost $4.02, but had a lot of extremely cold fluid, which is exactly what I needed.
From past experience, I know that from the Millvale bus loop to my house is seven miles, and though I had no timepiece, I figure I made it in about a half hour, maybe 45 minutes. From Downtown to home was another 15 miles, with all the side excursions.
Upon arriving home, I consumed 30 additional ounces of water, and must have been badly dehydrated, as I did not need to make a potty stop for fully three hours afterward. A quick shower and a change of clothes, and I was good as new.
The whole trip from Manchester to Downtown to Millvale to home was well over two and a half hours, though I was not trying to set any speed records. I was just happy that I could bicycle 19 miles in the blazing sun of mid-day June, and complete an almost 30-mile hike entirely by bicycle.