Type 2 Diabetic. Bike tour guide. #NextBurgh Flâneur.   Coffeeneur.    Errandoneur
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Friday, April 6, 2012

Montour - Panhandle Coffeeneuring

04/06/12 241# 29m
First, if I may, a potentially tragic story that ends well: Richard Gubish, Bus Driver of the Year (2012), although the final denouement is to be announced. Also, Pittsburgh's Danny Chew is at 698,800 lifetime bike miles, almost 70% of his lifetime goal of 1,000,000 bike miles.

Rode 29 miles with R. Had a funny mini-moment driving to the trailhead when I saw a big huge flame climbing above the horizon line in the distance, it seemed like it was a few miles away and quite tall, and there was no disaster as much as that's just what it's like to live in Oklahoma an energy extraction zone - just burning gas at a well, nothing to see here, keep moving.

Started at the Montour trailhead at MP17.1, the intersection of the Montour and Panhandle Trails. Climbed up to the Montour Trail and rode south through the detour on the temporary trail to Route 50 in Venice, rejoined the trail for a little bit more and then onto Route 50 for some road riding.

We took Route 50 past the American Legion and the tank, then took a parallel side street, made our way past Chartiers Valley high school and under I79 to the Heidelburg Starbucks. The automobilists in this area were very courteous and gave us a lot of room.

Enjoyed a Skinny Vanilla Latte, the manager attempted to explain the various Via options, and then back on the road. We climbed up through Nevillewood, then descended to the Panhandle Trail.

The Panhandle Trail is much improved between the east terminus and the Montour Trail. About a third of that section has been completely resurfaced, with the old ballast being used for the shoulder and new limestone material being used for the trailbed proper, in a way that R. said was reminiscent of the actual railway.

Stopped at the McDonald Trail Station which is open weekends in the summer, and I was pleased to find that it was open with a few ladies preparing for an event (wedding reception?) tomorrow, so I was able to score a few dead-tree Pandhandle Trail maps. I've wanted one of these for quite a while.

In previous years the Panhandle has been sort of the wierd-uncle trail for me because of the rough surface, but I could see that it's going to get a lot more traffic as the "new improved" conditions become more widely known.


  1. I'm going to ride the Panhandle today, I hope to make to West Virginia. Wondering how far the new and improvement goes?

    1. May I ask, what conditions did you encounter? I'm very interested in hearing about the section between Dinsmore and the PA-WV border. Cheers, V.

  2. It's al new crushed limestone from just outside of Burgetstown all the way to state line, In WV it's another 3 miles to an abrupt stop. all in all a nice trail. I see a lot of effort being made to keep the ATV/ motorbikes off the trail but I was buzzed at least 8 times by them, going both directions. Shame the trail is in great shape and it seems like the ATvs have plenty of places elsewhere nearby to go but...

  3. Panhandle seems like a great alternative to get some long uninterrupted miles in, especially while the bridges get built on the Montour.