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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pittsburgh Overnight Bike Trip: Day One, West Newton to Rockwood, PA

11-06-02 #236
74 miles, 5h57m
Day One of an overnight ride from West Newton, PA to Rockwood, staying overnight, and returning tomorrow.

We made it to West Newton about 0900, and fiddled with installing my new pedals for longer than I would have expected. The task was made more difficult by the relatively short lever-arm provided by my (very cool but very small) mini-tool.

We met trail guru Betsy M along the way. The air was loaded with pollen, my eyes were tearing to the point of weeping, and M. gave me some antihistimine he was carrying. At times there were so many particles in the air it looked like a faint snowfall.

Just prior to Confluence I crossed 1000 miles in 2011. We made made a tremendous time from West Newton to Confluence, 25 miles in 1h50m. In Confluence we availed ourselves of their sink for the water bottles, bought lunch, and ate outside of the store.

Back on the trail to Ohiopyle, there was some construction going on in one part, and another stretch closer to Ohiopyle has a few potholes in it. Stopped at the General Store for a Starbucks DoubleShot. Got copies of the GAP map (Spring 2011 update) which shows how the Montour, Panhandle, Southside and Jail Trails integrate with the GAP and the trail from Pittsburgh to DC. It's a pretty cool map.

We rode to Confluence where we stopped for a quality meal, we had low expectations of the destination food and wanted to get something good. I had a cup of french onion soup and a crabcake.

The last 19 miles from Confluence to Rockwood were the most work. Saw the deforestation above the Pinkerton Horn where the railroad is preparing to "daylight" an existing tunnel (more on that in tomorrow's post). The pitch seemed to kick up a notch for the last ten miles, but it was all a nice ride.

In Rockwood there's no cellphone coverage except at the cellphone hotspot in a small shack along the trail. There's an antenna on one corner of the building, and you need to be within a few feet of it to get coverage, but it provides a chance to check in with the home front.

We had the Rockwood Hostel to ourselves. It was not bad, $26 for the night, a blanket, and towels; wifi and cable TV, plenty of hot water in private bathrooms, coin-operated laundry machines. There was a comfortable sitting room, and a large bunkroom that wasn't too different from a bootcamp-style bay barracks. There are trains that run in close proximity during the night, and they offered us earplugs, but I found I didn't need them; the train did wake me up a half-dozen times, but I quickly got back to sleep.

We rode 74 miles in 5h56m. The weather was perfect, and the bikes did well.

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