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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Montour Trail and Pittsburgh Airport Connector to Southside

11/06/11 #236 61m
Rode 61 miles, 45F at the start, 62F at the end.

I started riding at MP0 on the Montour Trail in Groveton, near Coraopolis. I rode west along the trail to Enlow Road, where I departed the trail and rode the about-to-be-opened Airport Connector Trail.

The first section of the Airport Connector is via Enlow Road, and they've done a nice job of posting "Share The Road" signs. After a few blocks you come to a choice of two roads, diverging in a wood:

They've done a tremendous job of signage. The correct route is clearly marked with Montour Trail icons. If there's a place or a turn you shouldn't take on a bicycle, there's a very clear "NO MONTOUR TRAIL TRAFFIC" sign.

There are a few hills on the shared bike-car, paved airport service road that serves as the Montour Trail Airport Connector. The pavement is good, maybe a bit worn in places but never a problem.

The airport was in an "east-wind" operation, which is non-standard, and I could see aircraft passing overhead as they landed on 10R and 10L. As I rode along I met a father and son coming the other way on their bicycles .

This is a map of my recce ride:

I was unable to ride to the airport terminal complex. I ended up on a dead-end road that was "old" Moon-Clinton Road, I believe just south of the new Dick's corporate headquarters. (This was consistent with the advice on the Montour Trail Yahoo Group, saying it was OK to ride Enlow to Clinton Road, but the rest of the connection isn't ready yet.)

I rejoined the Montour Trail, rode to Groveton, then took Route 51 to the Neville Island Bridge. I rode Neville Island, McKees Rocks, and Station Square. The trail segment between Station Square and South Side Works had more bicycles on it than I'd ever seen. It was a beautiful day and perhaps that drew people out.

I continued on the trail past the Steeler's training facility and out to almost-Sandcastle. It'll be tremendous when the trail is continuous beyond that point.

On the return, I stopped at SouthSide Subway. A hot sandwich, a cold drink, water bottle refills and a tip for just $8, you can't beat it.

The parking lot at Station Square was filled with tailgaters who didn't seem to understand that it was my bicycle path, damn it, but they all parted eventually. Next time, on a football day, I may opt for Carson Street.

The ride back to the start was uneventful, I did see a few other cyclists out on Neville Island enjoying the day. At the Groveton parking lot I met my friend S. coming off the trail after doing 26 miles, it's always good to meet somebody you know out there.

An intriguing question for me is the unaddressed possibility of using the Airport Connector to ride from Hopewell and Moon to Imperial. If the closed Moon Clinton road were accessible to bicycles, you could connect to the Dick's campus, and Flaugherty Run Road, and Moon Township. That route might get more trail traffic than the Airport Connector, see theoretical futuristic figment of imagination below:

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