The BikePgh message board has a topic, Do You Have a Whale?, which suggests that a Whale is a personal ride that challenges, obsesses, and drives you to distraction, ala Capt. Ahab and Moby Dick. In Pittsburgh, generally people's "whales" are hills.
My whale has been riding from Freedom PA to Cranberry Township PA via Ninth Street and Freedom Crider Road. I've ridden it before, generally accompanied by copious sweating, walking the bike, and laying down while gasping for breath and resisting the urge to curl into a fetal position. If they still make those charts, "the nine early warning signs of a heart attack", I get five of the nine on Freedom Crider Road.
This afternoon I set out to make a Coffeeneuring Ride, and I decided that it was time to confront Freedom-Crider Road and that hill again. It's autumn, I should be at a strong point in the year, it's relatively cool; it's all good. The fact that more bike-car fatal collisions happen on Friday late-afternoons was something I decided not to focus on.
I had a great ride. Departed Aliquippa and crossed the Ohio on the East Rochester-Monaca bridge, got to the bottom of Ninth and started uphill. It was a great climb, I really enjoyed it. I got to the top no problem, no nausea, no heaving lungs fighting for breath; best of all, it was fun. I think the moderate temperature (75F) was a major factor. Increasingly I find that not overheating is a success builder.
At the turn onto Freedom-Crider Road it continued to be a great ride, and in fact I didn't stop at all until I caught a red light in Cranberry at Haine School Road, where I needed to make a left-turn and the situation called for honoring the light.
As I rode into Butler County I did get some verbal feedback from two people in vehicles. One young man riding opposite direction must have thought I was his friend Richard because as they drove by he shouted out, "Dick!" A woman in a SUV, same direction in heavy, slow traffic started saying to me, "why are you riding on the ---" but that's all I heard because I passed her car and advanced out of auditory range, which I thought was sort of an answer-by-demonstration.
At 3.30pm I pulled up to my planned Indie Coffee Shop, Graham Central Coffee (feeling almost smug about myself) only to find it closed, empty and dark; they close at 2.30. Oh, the injustice!
My moment of angst, injustice and victimhood passed quickly — which is good, because those are dangerous things in the Irish and we end up bombing post offices. I took Robin Hood Drive, a very bike friendly street, back south to Freedom-Crider and found the Starbucks. (This is a long way of explaining why my Coffeeneuring-2 stop is at a chain, when I had hoped to only involve indy coffee shops because I roll that way.)
My second coffeeneuring expedition of the 2012 Coffeeneuring Challenge:
drink: Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte
location: 1302 Freedom Rd, Cranberry, PA
mileage: 34 miles
ride details: Climbed a hill that's been a daunting challenge. My original coffee destination, nearby Graham Central Coffee, had closed at 2.30 pm so I came over to Starbucks. They've always done a good job here. Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte and a slice of lemon pound cake. MMM good. Surfed the wifi on my tablet for a while, scored some honey packets for my bento-bag.
The ride home was very nice, a few hills but mostly downhill. Road construction meant a detour onto Harvey Run Road, no problem. Crossing the Monaca Bridge, whistling "Raspberry Beret" to myself, a young man driving a pickup and stopped in traffic called over to me, "I think you've got the right idea there!".
Climbing up Route18 by the WalMart, another car's passenger shouted "you rock" and extended an arm with a clenched fist, so I'd have to score the verbal feedback as overall positive today.
Back at home at 6.30 pm, having defied the Friday mortality rates again.