Met S. at 0830 at the Bastille and we were both quite bundled up for the first sub-30F-windchill ride of the this season. The first problem was all the detail-fussing with increasingly cold extremities prior to the ride, the snapping on of new overshoes, handwarmers, things like that. Finally we were ready to go, like kids off to school in a snowstorm.
Riding was great. Yesterday I took advantage of the rain day to have the world's best Local Bike Shop (aka the Ambridge Bike Shop) install a new drive train (rear cassette, chain, chainrings) along with a new rear brake mechanism and some brake hoods, and it's a pleasure to ride a bike that's quiet, doesn't skip, and brakes so effectively. That alone made the first mile so happy.
Took the Ft. Pitt Bridge over to Station Square; not too many people on the trails this morning. I was feeling quite comfortable despite the temps, although I must credit multiple layers and chemical warmers on my hands and feet.
Rode down past Sandcastle and intended to depart the trail and penetrate Homestead proper. Until recently we rode around on the Waterfront property and exited via the train crossing and Amity Street, which is a bit dodgy in a car-bike sort of way. Just the last few times, we've taken the ramp up to the Homestead Grays Bridge and taken the right turn into Homestead, which provides a much saner transition into Homestead without any of the mall crazy; I like this a lot better.
Rode through town to 449 W. 8th Avenue, W. Homestead PA, 15120, which is home to the Bulgarian Macedonian National Educational and Cultural Center. The MBNECC hosts Soup Sega! Saturdays until noon, selling 14 varieties of high-quality homemade Bulgarian soups. To. Die. For. "Soup Sega" translates to "soup now", they explain.
The menu includes several vegetarian choices, as well as gluten free selections, and also dairy-free options. S and I each departed with two quarts of soup in our panniers.
We reversed and rode up to the South Side, crossed the Hot Metal Bridge, and rode the Jail Trail. Saw a cross-country skier practicing on Roller-Skis, very cool. Took a detour through USX Plaza and saw that the tree and ice rink are in operation. Passed through Market Square where the Tchotchke Market opened today. Stopped at Point State Park to eat some strudel from the Bulgarian Center (wow).
Crossed to the North Side, noticed the (head)wind picking up and a bit more blue skies. Still felt pretty comfortable in the 32F temp range. 25 miles today, which puts me at 4999 miles year-to-dayte, oh-so-close to 5000.