Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Bicycling from Franklin, PA to Houston, PA May 14

May14......111.3 miles in 10:38.....Things are going to slow down here for a while, and I haven't blogged in a week, but we've been busy around home, getting vehicles inspected, visiting Buddy, and generally chilling out. We camped at The Meadows, a casino two miles from our house, as we decided that we needed to stay with the RV some, and try not to cramp Buddy's style too much. First day in town we saw Buddy's track meet, which was held in Canonsburg. His girls team made the WPIAL Team Playoffs, and it was the first time I have ever seen him as a coach. I also took a drive to Morgantown WV, to see Chip Wamsley at his bike shop, where I bought the gear that got me through the whole trip. We chatted and he fixed by broken derailleur hanger, as well as several worn cables on the spot. So the store where it all began with Pam buying me Mycicle Bycicle, put me back together, so I can close the loop, by riding to North Carolina, where it all began. I will do that when I leave from home sometime in June.  We then spent three days in Franklin, at Two Mile Run State Park, about six miles from the grand kids and my daughter, Andi. The park is just now getting ready to open because it's still cold up there, and the trees had very few leaves coming out. We were parked under cover of a forest, which would normally mean we don't get satellite  TV, but we got it because there were no leaves to block the feed. In the middle of May. Wow. On Monday, I had decided that I needed a ride, and it was a long way home, so this distance qualifies as the third longest ride I've ever done. My longest ride in my life was 136 miles, on a trip to North Carolina a year before this adventure. A 112 mile ride into the Keys in Florida, with a nasty headwind was my second longest. On this trip, Pam picked me up at the end of the Montour Trail, seven miles from home, because it was pitch dark, or I would have had a more impressive mileage total.
I started out, taking some back roads from the park, into Franklin, where I began a major climb out of the Allegheny River Valley, on PA 8. It took me an hour of riding, and I was only a few miles out of Franklin, so even though I knew about the monster climb, I knew I would probably finish on the Montour Trail in the dark, very early in the ride. I decided not to pound my legs early, because of the length of the ride, and I didn't want to BONK. The weather was being cooperative, with a cloud cover and a threat of rain kept things cool. One problem I did have was a headwind, all the way to Slippery Rock, or almost 40 miles. That also slowed progress, but I just worked with it. It wasn't brutal, but always noticeable. PA 8 out of Franklin was steep and not very busy, fortunately, on a Monday morning. The road turned into a divided four lane with a nice, wide, shoulder, as it worked towards Barkleyville, on Interstate 80. For the first time on my entire trip, I was pulled over on the divided highway, by a State Trooper, and told that in Pennsylvania, unlike any other state in the whole damn Union, bicycles weren't allowed on divided state highways. He was cool about it, but it just confirms my opinion that PA is just so different than the rest of the country. State liquor stores and beer distributors. In 2014. I rest my case. The trooper told me to ride a few miles to the next exit, and get off the next exit, onto 'old' PA 8. I did, and rode on a shoulderless road with blind turns and blind hill crests, instead of a safe, wide, divided highway with a huge shoulder and immense sight distances. Don't get me started. Fortunately, there was no traffic, and i was back out onto the four lane in a few miles, just in time to negotiate the I-80 interchange. The old road also put a little more pounding on my legs, and contributed to the 5700 feet of elevation that I climbed for the trip, which is one of my bigger totals for the trip.
PA 8 continued as a two lane road with very little shoulder, from I-80 to my turn off towards Slippery Rock. Traffic picked up as I headed through a few small towns, until turning on PA 108 into The Rock. Even though I was racing daylight, it was important to me to stop at the field house on campus, where Buddy and Andi gave me some great memories, and take pictures of their profiles that hang on the Slippery Rock Wall of Fame. I also ran into Bill Jordan and Megan
Cook, who were coaches when Buddy was there. It was good to see them and the Wall, but I had a date with the Slippery Rock Dairy Queen to get some fuel for the rest of the trip. The first 40 miles had taken too long, so my hope of finishing at my front porch was pretty much gone. I followed PA 108 out of town and west, towards US 19. This stretch of road is particularly twisty and climby, but at least the headwind turned down a little when I turned south on 19. US 19 is once again hilly, like every road around here, and I noticed that the hills were greening up pretty fast as I moved only a few miles south from Franklin. There were also some mean looking, dark clouds off to my west. After about twenty miles on 19, I arrived at the town of Zelienople at the same time the rain did. I actually stopped under a roof, checked radar, and sat for a few minutes before I decided to don the rain gear and head out to finish the trip in the rain. I also turned on my GPS girl, and got off of Route 19 with the pouring rain. The roads were hilly, unknown to me, and less traffic filled. As I neared Greater Pittsburgh, I was winding a twisting on back roads that I can't even name, and only crossed a few busier, more dangerous roads, as the skies were really beginning to open up. 
I finally descended into the Ohio River Valley, far down river from where I expected to come out. I had to ride on Ohio River Blvd, Rt. 51, as traffic was beginning to hit the evening rush. Fortunately the rain stopped, and I rode through the suburbs of Economy, Baden, and Ambridge, places I have never been, at least in my memory. I eventually got off of the main drag and rode some side streets, until I get to Sewickly, where I knew I would cross the Ohio on the Sewickly Bridge. The old steel mill towns of Ambridge and Economy quickly turned to the beautiful and fashionable Sewickly, and then, it was across the bridge, and into Coraopolis. As I rode through town, it was busy, but the rush was slowing down and the Main Street filtered right into the Montour Trail. The trail was busy as many people were getting their evening exercise. I thought that since I was on the trail, that things would be leveling out, which they did, but.....as I climbed out of the Ohio River Valley, I climbed 450 ft over the first 12 miles of the trail. So, it wasn't all cruising it in, but more like a final insult to my legs. The trail was muddy and soft after the day of rain, so my speed didn't increase all that much. Pam met me at PA 980, and it was pretty dark. The road to my house is way too dangerous to ride at night, but my legs could have done it, and it would have been great to do 120 miles. But, I still have that little ride from Wheeling, where the bike broke, to Houston, to look forward to. The road goes on forever, and the party never ends.

Coach Rose talking to one of his pole vaulters

Getting serious now!

And she's over!!!


The kids and one grand kid!!  Mom Andi, birthday boy Chase, Uncle Buddy, and Aunt Jamie 

Andi and Ben giving Chase his birthday cupcake!

Big brother Carter helping Chase check out his new birthday presents!

Andi's picture from the SRU Wall of Fame

Buddy's picture from SRU Wall of Fame

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