An Adventure So Grand, It Requires Multiple Blog Posts
Rolling into Connellsville, we were greeted by tons of trail art and a separated bike path through town. We loaded up on fajitas and chile rellanos for another 20 miles to our campsite. Years of trail experience has taught me that food is important to the morale of the trip. Night #1, I whipped up some broccoli & cheese rotini and added some pepper jack and bacon to take it up a notch. Night #2 included tomato soup with pepper jack & bacon, followed by chicken alfredo noodles. I crashed hard and early on Wednesday to make Thursday easier….which it was.
The last stretch to Pittsburgh had us doing 40 miles before lunch through trail towns, past metal factories, housing projects and over some more incredible bike/ped bridges. After McKeesport, the newest section of the GAP took us over more railroad, under the rollercoasters of Kennywood and along the Steel Valley Trail system to the old steel factory site of Homestead. Like other trails I’ve ridden around the country, the GAP was bounded here by an industrial area with “hazardous conditions” on one side and a railway on the other. Where there’s a will for a trail, there’s a way. A speed cyclist yelled at a group of us to get out of the way. One of the locals we were riding with said it happens often here and one time he and his fellow slow riders had to teach one of the speedsters a lesson. “He took it like a man and didn’t call the police.” After a quick reload on supplies to transition to an urban setting, we got back on the trail and quickly lost it.
We followed some local advice, but lost our way again only finding deadends and trainyards. The maps we had weren’t incredibly helpful but we found a low road and followed it westerly and got back on the Eliza Furnace Trail. As we pedaled through the trailhead parking lot, we were stopped by a municipal employee who asked, “Are you the Transportation guys coming from Baltimore?” Patrick works in the City Planning Department and heard we were coming to town. He confirmed we were headed in the right direction and told us to swing by the office later on. Ok, that was weird and providential.
We crossed the Hot Metal Bridge, back along the Jail Trail and by Golden Triangle Bike Rentals where we scored some bike maps. I would say our GAP Adventure ended at Market Square where we chilled in a public square, commenting on the architecture, lack of curbs, noting the activity and generally agreeing that Market Square works!
One more trail complete, but the adventure wasn’t over. We still had Pittsburgh to explore….