Monday, September 08, 2008
We reluctantly left Linda & Jim's at about 7:30, riding into a chilly, foggy morning. We thought about putting on our jackets, it was that cool, but the climbs warmed us up quickly. The first few miles were all on local roads, and Linda had told us about some interesting local sights - the Orthodox monastery right behind their property and the Sturges Market that their friends owned. The roads were narrow and hilly but without much traffic. We got onto SR 288, which was wider and had a good shoulder, but still hilly. This took us into Zelienople, a charming little town whose name we'd seen many times on exit signs from the PA turnpike but had never visited until now. Its downtown had many interesting old buildings and a bicycle shop called Dapper Bicycle. We turned onto US 19 in Zelienople, on which we stayed most of the rest of the day. It was a nice, wide road with a good shoulder most of the way, and it too was hilly. It had a lot of industries along the side, including a small airport, and one big plant whose parking lot spanned about a quarter mile (we never figured out what it was). We soon came into a more wooded stretch that was really lovely - it was nice to see the beautiful Pennsylvania woods again after so many states with lots of crop fields and very few trees. We then started getting into a series of towns - Cranberry, Warrendale, Wexford, McKnight - all with strips of stores and large shopping malls along the road. Wexford had a section called the Village of Old Wexford that went off to the right of the main road and looked very quaint. The stores along the main road all looked fairly new and busy.
We got off the main US 19 onto the Truck version around McKnight and soon turned off onto smaller roads going into Millvale. Millvale was a nice town with old rowhouses that reminded us of neighborhoods in Philadelphia. We were clearly getting closer to Pittsburgh now and the roads were narrower and not in the best of shape. We turned onto 28th Street along the river and then shortly afterward went across the Washington Crossing Bridge, also known as the 40th Street Bridge. The bridge was 3 lanes wide with signals to indicate which lanes went in which direction. There was no shoulder but there was a sidewalk that didn't look easy to get onto, so we stuck with the traffic lane. There wasn't a lot of traffic but only one lane was going our way. One motorist honked at us to express his displeasure at our taking up room in the lane, but we didn't hear any other complaints. The bridge railings were painted a pretty blue color and had signs representing the seals of each of the original 13 colonies and some county seals as well. It was very nice. At the other side of the bridge, there was another steep hill and we stopped to figure out what to do. It was a little after noon and we were getting hungry. It was only about 5 or 6 miles to our motel, so we decided to go on and see what we came to. What we found was a nice little sandwich shop in a section called Penn Main. We had a great sandwich and peach smoothie and rested up a bit. As we left, we passed the new Children's Hospital that was still not quite finished, some neat old town houses and large old churches. There were also some parks in the neighborhood.
We got to our motel by 2:30, having done about 43-1/4 miles in just under 5 bike hours, a better average than we expected given the hills. But it was a beautiful sunny, cool day with a mild wind so it was quite a pleasant day for riding. The hills didn't seem as bad as we had thought, many were steep in places but they seemed pretty manageable. Tomorrow will be more climbing and the worst climbs come on Wednesday and Thursday. Still it was encouraging that today went as well as it did.