Sunday, July 10, 2011
I rode 78 miles on mostly trails today, 5h58m riding time, 8h30min start-to-stop time, 90F. This was a ride I've wanted to do for years which some people refer to as doing The Montour Loop.
In the depiction below, the blue lines are existing trails, and the purple lines reflect on-road riding:
I parked at Groveton PA, at MP0 on the Montour Trail, and confidently rode away from the trail and onto Neville Island. I rode south on Neville Island until I was able to ride onto the mainland and rejoin 51-South to Station Square.
I took the Station Square Trail to SouthSideWorks, where I stopped at REI for some chamois cream and at Subway for icewater drink refills. I continued on the SouthSide trail until reaching the informal/illegal path through the gravel rail bed and it was surprising how many bicyclists were out there working around the trail gaps.
I rode through the Sandcastle parking lot, and you could smell the sunscreen in the air. I continued on the Waterfront Trail and the new Steel Valley Trail, and took the Riverton Bridge into McKeesport.
In McKeesport I was entering new territory as I navigated cross-town to the Montour Trail. I was very fortunate to encounter two road-bike riders, John and Kelly, who offered to show me the way. In one town they were unusually respectful of stop signs, and Kelly explained that they'd been stopped by a police officer with sirens etc earlier in the day for running a stop sign.
We passed by the Large Hotel and rode through the Green Man Tunnel. After a while our paths diverged and they continued to South Park, and I headed west to Route 88.
I stopped at a CoGos for water, between SouthSideWorks and Library PA I'd drank five water bottles. I was able to locate and rejoin the trail at MP36, and rode the trail to the ultimate rest stop: FarmHouse Coffee, a Gyro shop, and Subway. I went with the Subway if only for the water bottle refills.
My friend R. rode out from his neighborhood to meet me. I was about 50 miles into my 80 miles when we rendezvoused, and I was very glad for the good company. We rode together through the National Tunnel and on until the McDonald Bridge.
At around MP10 I encountered a rider on a hand-crank-powered recumbent trike, who was quite possibly a disabled veteran. That put all my problems and minor long-day aches back into perspective.
I stopped at Enlow Station for a few cold water bottles, then worked my way back to MP0 and the car that was happily still there.
The Montour Loop is a fun ride, it's a variation from the out-and-back rides I often take, and it's a pretty safe way to go a long distance.