Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bike America Day 60: Goodbye to the Road Bikes

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Day's distance: 70.41 miles
Overall distance: 3,126 miles

Leaving our room at the Super 8 to pick up continental breakfast in the lobby, I wondered if we had slept for two months and woken up in October. I was wearing long sleeves and pants and still cold. We heard that the temperature was in the 50s and would reach only 70 for the day. My mom and I bundled up and began again in Maximo. 

We rode slowly up many hills so I never really warmed up. Every time I noticed my odometer under 12mph I felt ashamed that I wasn’t riding my bike faster than those women were running in the Olympics the night before. We stopped fairly often in the first 30 miles and rode through one construction zone. The end of our morning was on a lovely bike path into Lisbon, Ohio where my mom and dad switched at mile 28.

It was gray for most of the day and I left my jacket and pants on into the afternoon. My dad and I had some serious hills to climb and I finally really warmed up. When we crested, we rolled along some ridges with spectacular views, including one with a nuclear power plant among the trees. 

Down from the ridge, we came to our next left turn and saw a sign pointing right that read “Ohio 1”. We had crossed into Pennsylvania with no sign to prove it so we turned right to look for a sign. We came to a small obelisk monument, erected exactly on the border which, as the beginning of the US public land survey, is a registered national historic landmark.

We ate a quick lunch by the sign and then rode through Midland, PA which brought life to the term “rust belt”. My dad’s tire popped as he crossed a bridge across town so I rode on without him while my mom picked him up in the car. I went solo by the power plant and regretted not having my camera. My parents soon caught me so I got a few pictures from a distance.

While my dad hung back to change his tube, my mom remounted her bike. My dad had such good timing that it was almost as if he’d planned it. My mom rode about 1.5-2 miles and it was entirely up hill. The last 1.1 was basically up a mountain, on a small deserted road in the woods. It occurred to me that there could be bears around so I began making noise. I was talking to nobody and making up songs about how the hill was no fun. My mom yelled at me, “Seriously, this isn’t funny!! I don’t know how long I can do this!” We stopped for a break and could hear speeding cars nearby. I told her to push it around the next bend or two and I was pretty sure we’d be at the crest, where an intersection was shown on the map. Just before we made it, my dad caught up to us in the car. Like I said… impeccable timing.

He and I rode and I felt high up in the sky. We slowly made our way down toward Pittsburgh and, as we got closer, we had a steep descent toward the city. From then on, the riding wasn’t very pretty as the roads were mostly large and busy. We had good shoulders, though, so I wasn’t worried about cars. Finally, we were in Corapolis, PA, a suburb of Pittsburgh, where we’d spend the night and begin our trail ride the following morning. We had a hard time finding the trailhead so we stopped in a neighborhood and decided to resume there the next day. I hugged my bike, Charlie, goodbye because it was her final day on Bike America. That made me pretty nostalgic.

We drove to the Super 8 where Josh was waiting with three hybrid bikes. The original plan had been for he and a friend to drive up, switch bikes with us and take both cars home so we could all ride the entire distance to DC carrying our things. My mom decided a few weeks ago, though, that she wasn’t up for 60-70 miles a day, carrying everything, and she wanted to keep the car. This made the switch easier, all we had to do was say goodbye to our bikes and switch odometers, pedals, and other things from one to the other. And there’s the added bonus of getting to hang out with Josh for a night!

We all went to dinner at Primanti Brother’s, a Pittsburgh chain and I had a pizza and 23 oz. blue moon. Josh got a Rogue Hazelnut Brown Porter and it was delicious. My dad ordered a sardine sandwich and was appalled when it arrived with French fries on it.

Arriving in Pittsburgh felt very monumental to me. Like Ragbrai was a big milestone, so was this. We were only 6 riding days from home, and only a five hour drive. I saw my car (which Josh drove up) for the first time in two months and I really felt like we were back east. I told my parents that we had basically already ridden across the country. My dad tried to argue but I’m pretty sure if anyone ever told me that they’d ridden their bike from Anacortes, WA to Pittsburgh, PA, I would think they’d ridden their bike across the US. If we quit now, I think we still could claim to have done it. It was a long freaking way and it made the remaining week feel small in comparison. Still, I was glad we’d made it that far on roads without any bad accidents and was relieved we’d be riding the remainder on bike paths. I was excited to be home but in disbelief at how quickly the adventure had flown by. Luckily, it wasn’t over yet…

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