On Sunday morning May 7th, while over 14,000 runners laced up their shoes for the Pittsburgh Marathon, my dad, my cousin Dave and I pumped our tires and clipped on our helmets for an odyssey of our own: a 335-mile bike ride from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington D.C. along The Great Allegheny Passage (www.GAPtrail.org) and The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath trails.
Day 1 of 5: Pittsburgh to Ohiopyle
At 10am this morning we gathered at The Waterfront (the trail starts from downtown Pittsburgh but we started slightly south due to marathon road closures). After a few warm up laps and pre-departure photos we started our journey.
A tail-wind carried us out of Pittsburgh over a paved trail at about 15-18mph before the trail switched to crushed limestone for speeds of 10-15mph. And that’s when my problems started.
As with any adventure there is always some unforeseen challenge. Mine were tire treads designed to give my road bike more traction but which fit so closely to the frame of my bike that this soft limestone sand would get stuck on the bike making it difficult for the wheels to spin. Psheee, psheee, psheee…we could hear my front tire make every turn. We also encountered a few fallen trees that meant carrying our bikes over and through.
Still we kept pedaling, past waterfalls, over bridges and old train stations. The newly budding forest was a beautiful bright green and the Monongahela river raged along the trail side. But after multiple stops to clear sand from my tire and the promise of muddier trails on our days to come we made a pit stop at Bikes Unlimited in Connellsville. (The photo below shows my road bike on the left where mud would get stuck and our pit stop switchover on the right.)
On my new trek hybrid we cruised the last few miles into Ohiopyle to stay overnight at the Yough Plaza Motel.
Daily mileage: 67 miles