I left the Cervone’s with a full stomach, full water, more sunscreen (I ran out yesterday), and an insanely generous supply of nuts, granola, fruit bars, and other wonderful trail food. I can’t thank them enough for their generosity. I had a great time chatting with Paul, Ellen, Joe, and Nikki and I hope our paths all cross again soon (Vegas maybe?).
Once I got back onto the trail things were moving pretty smoothly. I knew I had a short day of riding ahead of me so I took my time and just enjoyed the surroundings. I found a really nice overlook of the river and stopped for a snack and break. I was joined by a local man who had recently retired. We made small talk and ended up discussing our favorite towns around the country. We had a shared love for Charleston and Savannah and shared stories of those beautiful southern cities. It was a pleasant talk but I regret not getting his name or anything. I really need to start introducing myself properly when I have these chance encounters with people.
The first half of the days ride was filled with the wooded trail like the last week but as I approached Pittsburgh the environment changed pretty considerably. It became decidedly more urban and the trees were replaced with rusted buildings, abandoned rail cars, and scattered scrap metal. The smell of industry and asphalt filled the air and the temperature probably jumped 15 degrees.
There were two pretty cool things that I stumbled upon near Pittsburgh on the trail. As I came around one corner I found myself underneath the bend of a huge roller coaster, apparently there is a theme park nearby. A local was explaining it to his family and I overheard that the wooden coaster in view was from 1908. Pretty cool.
I also happened upon an “Artists Market” (think farmer’s market for art) that was only open from 10-2 on Sundays. It was 1pm on Sunday when I rode by. I decided to stop and wander among the wares. I didn’t have the money or room for anything but saw a lot of great local paintings, jewelry, and woodwork. I did get the contact information for a lady that makes tie-dye sheets and blankets so I may order one of those at some point.
While at the Artists Market I was approached by a big hippy looking guy in his 60’s or 70’s, he had a gray pony tail that went down to his mid back and just kind of meandered around without a care in the world. He looked at my bike and asked “Are you on a journey?”. The phrasing made me chuckle a bit but I said yes. We chatted about what I was doing and why. He seemed pleased and smiled as he got in his oversized van (sadly, not a VW) and drove off.
With only a few miles to go I entered Pittsburgh unceremoniously. I ended up getting a bit lost because the hills and overlapping roads messed with the GPS on my phone but I made it to my friends house with plenty of time for a wonderful dinner that included an alcoholic milk shake.
Now for a good day of rest, bike repairs, and writing.
Thank you to Leah for the financial help and to John for the awesome Spotify mix, such a flashback to high school with some modern music. Also, my brother is apparently using my ride as a teaching tool for his elementary school class in Canada. I thought that’s pretty cool. They get out in three weeks so won’t follow the whole ride but maybe next year he can use the whole ride.