321 Ride – report

On October, 12, I ride 62 miles from Connesville, PA to Pittsburgh, PA on the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP). The reason? 321ride, a bike-friendly event made to support the Woiner Foundation which mission is to fight melanoma and pancreatic cancer by increasing awareness, supporting patients, survivors, families and fundraising for research. I completed the event in a team with three friends and my partner in crime. The team’s name “In Memory of Beth” was chosen by one of my friend that lost her cousin last year because of cancer. I was very glad and proud to be part of this journey and I know that this adventure really matters to them.

Riding early in the Morning: embrace the fog!
Riding early in the Morning: embrace the fog!

You do not have to ride that long to support the Woiner foundation and when joining the event, you can choose between a 7, 25 or 62 miles ride. I choose the latter (metric century ride) because it goes on a beautiful trail and this was a good reason to cross train. You start in downtown Pittsburgh at 600am, where breakfast is provided by Panera Bread. Then, buses bring you (and your bike) to Connelsville. Once you get there, you just follow the trail all the way to Pittsburgh.

Funny ducky before West Newton
Funny ducky before West Newton

The buses arrive in Connelsville around 7:45am and you are ready to go around 0800am (time to get the bike stocked in the buses). Depending on the weather, it can be really cold so it is highly recommended to have many layers with appropriate gear (gloves, socks, etc.). This can be a real safety issue, several people had issues. If you have difficulties to stay warm, consider taking hand warmers. After one or two hours, the temperature increases significantly and you can then remove one or two layers.

Aid station at Boston, PA
Aid station at Boston, PA

The trail go through different cities: West Newton, Mckeesport or even Boston. Most of the trail is in the nature, without any other traffic. The organizers set up aid station every 20 miles where you can put air in your tires and refuel the machine (usual race food is available: bagels, bananas, orange slices, etc.). During your journey to Pittsburgh, you will cross many beautiful areas (the waterfalls around Boston are wonderful!). Considering that the race takes place during the fall, seeing the leaves falling makes this ride colorful! Finally, once you get in Pittsburgh, you enter the post-race party. Food is provided (full lunch!) and there is an expo where you can hang out.

Should you do the next edition? Definitively! This is a great opportunity to do a long ride with support so that if you have any mechanical issue on the way, you will get help and will probably able to continue your ride to Pittsburgh (Trek of Pittsburgh, a sponsor of the event, provides support along the route)! Also, having aid station stocked with food avoid to carry too much stuff in your bagpack.

Top individual fundraider!
Top individual fundraider!

 

Finally, when signing up for the race, you can make your own fundraising campaign for the Woiner foundation. In case you do not want to do it, you will have to donate $50 to the organization to be able to ride! Being a runner and participating regularly to road races, I was interested to start a fundraising campaign since a long time. So, I set a goal of $500. This goal has been reached within a couple of weeks and, the total of the donations summed to an amount of $1025, which makes me the top individual fundraiser! This was a real challenge to do it but also a real pleasure. I will probably consider to do it again, for the same organization or another. Thanks again to the Woiner foundation!

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321 Ride – report

Pedal Pittsburgh 2014 – ride report

On Sunday, August 24, I participated to Pedal Pittsburgh (a.k.a. PedalPGH) with my usual partner in crime. This is not a race but rather an invitation to join a happy crew of bikers and discover many areas of Pittsburgh! The guidelines are simple: you start whenever you want (but it is recommended to start early) and try to finish before the end of the party (around 3pm). Three distances were proposed: 7 miles (family friendly), 25 miles (go to around the city) or 62 miles (with a lot of hills). Another distance (45 miles) was proposed later and I ended up by doing this one. Nice way to do something else than running and explore the city on a wonderful Sunday morning.

On the way to Troy Hill
On the way to Troy Hill

 

The start is in the South Side, under the Birmingham Bridge. You can get technical support at the starting line to check your bike, chain, tire, etc. If you did not have enough time to get your breakfast, water and fruits are available. The ride go towards the North Side and explore Troy Hill and the Riverview Park. If you are looking for a good workout, this part of the ride is definitively a good one: lots of up and downhills, pretty challenging! While biking, we found an unofficial stops organized by happy bike-enthusiast packed with water, cookies, happiness and big smiles. Enough energy to help you keep going, especially because after a few miles, an official stop as provides technical support (small repairs and adjustments) and more food. The route continues towards Bloomfield (where you cross the Little Italy Days and see people getting ready for the festival), and go up the hills of Highland Park where another stop welcomes you. The ride finishes with a nice trip through Oakland (that goes along Circuit Rd – the one used by the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix) and finally the South Side. Once you finish the ride, you got a tee-shirt and are invited to visit the party at the finish line packed with food trucks and other vendors.

 

Birmingham Bridge, almost to the finish line!
Birmingham Bridge, almost to the finish line!

 

This non-competitive event makes a wonderful Sunday ride with more than 45 miles and 2700 feet of elevation. You can turn it into a friendly/family event and do a distance that fits your needs. In other words, it can replace your usual morning run in the week end while you discover parts of the city you are not use to see (this exploration convinced me to explore the North Side and more specifically the Riverview Park and its trails)! The support is really great: there are regular water-stops, well packed with appropriate food so that you do not have to carry too much stuff in your bagpack. The support is very appreciated: in case your bike has a defect, you can easily have an advice from an expert.

Obviously, for $25 (price to sign up), considering the support you get, this is definitively something to add on your to-do list. On top of that, by participating to the ride, you support the local and bike-friendly association. No reason for not signing up next year!

 

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Pedal Pittsburgh 2014 – ride report