This morning we started by backtracking in my mom's car through Pittsburgh to the Subway parking lot we had stopped in the night before. We set off on our unloaded bikes (which is such a nice feeling), and efficiently climbed and descended our way along Highway 50. After our driven tour of Pittsburgh last night, we realized that the climbs and tunnels that would be necessary in order to ride directly through Pittsburgh was going to be too much of a hassle. That being said, we still had to head towards the city before we could circumvent it through its suburbs (on the Yellow and then Orange Belts).
To begin, we had more downhill than uphill, and we made good time as Highway 50 became a divided highway to Bridgeville. It was at this point that we had to take busier, sometimes shoulderless roads around Pittsburgh. The roads were packed because it was still the tail end of rush hour traffic, and we were glad that we did not have our bags on our bikes that would serve to prolong our ascents, and widen our bikes. When possible we road on sidewalks to avoid aggressive drivers, but this solution was often plagued with broken glass and other trash that was strewn about. The hills were steep, but we were able to maintain a good portion of our momentum because we did not have our bags. Eventually we reached the summit of our climbs and got to enjoy a steep downhill ride to the Monongahela River. The traffic and stoplights slowed our progress and we found it frustrating that despite riding quickly, our mileage was accruing much slower than usual.
Around noon, we reached North Versaille. We had only biked about 35 miles, but being on constant high-alert to avoid bad drivers and navigating in stressful areas necessitated that we stop for a meal. Conveniently there was another Denny's and we sat down to enjoy another one of our "Build Your Own Grandslams". My mom met us here and topped off our supplies of snacks and fluids, and after eating we set off to Monroeville (which is where we had stayed the prior night in a hotel). Being Pennsylvania, the trip to Monroeville required more climbing and descending, but eventually we reached Highway 22. The William Penn Highway promised to finally send us on a more direct eastbound route.
Highway 22, did not satisfy our expectations immediately though. We found ourselves on more of a commercial turnpike than a highway, and we were once again dodging aggressive drivers, searching for usable road shoulders and being slowed by traffic lights. Luckily, the further we got from Pittsburgh, the less traffic and businesses there were. Along with this transition came an increasing number of mountains that were part of the Allegheny Mountain Range.
We climbed and fell for the whole afternoon and eventually made our way to a Subway. After our sandwiches we decided to grab another 1.5 hours of riding before it became dark out. The hills had definitively transitioned to being mountains at this point and we had two "opportunities" to test our climbing skills as we had to slowly trudge up mountain sides that lasted around 2.5 miles.
Eventually we reached the town of Ebensburg around 8:30pm and when we rendezvoused with my mom, decided that we had biked far enough for today, and would head to our hotel in Altoona. We hung the bikes on the back of her SUV and set off for Dairy Queen and beds.
Photos by Jonathan Kobles
About Lea's Foundation
In 1998, Lea Michele Economos, a young woman who died of leukemia at the age of 28, made a dying wish to her parents that others would not face the hardships she encountered by finding a cure for this disease. Her family started this charity to carry on that wish. Today, Lea’s Foundation takes an active role in finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and myeloma and to better the lives of people living with these diseases. At the UCONN Health Center, the Lea’s Foundation Center for Hematologic Disorders sponsors research in this field. A new program covers the cost of bone-marrow testing to help recruit life-saving transplants for patients. Also, annual scholarships are given to children with leukemia who are planning to attend nursery school. For more information on other projects carried out by Lea’s Foundation, please visit their website at www.LeasFoundation.org.