Saturday Ride

Brush Creek Cemetery

This time I made it.

I waffled about trying this again, as I am really not at all familiar with the area the ride covers. Then, with the Princeton Brevet looming in the distance, I thought pushing the boat out a bit in uncharted territory might not be a bad idea. The elevation profile (~3100 feet in 39 miles) also made it a good candidate for training. So off I went, updated cue sheet in hand. I will start with this: the ride did not disappoint. It receives 3 stars in Oscar’s book, and a 10-ish mile stretch really made the ride.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Off I went, through Edgewood and Braddock Hills. It was windy along the ridge, cross winds mostly, pushing me here and there. I descended Ravine (not River, and, umm, not a left) down to Braddock. About half a mile later, I realized I could have saved the ride last weekend, as Brinton does, in fact, loop around, via a construction yard, to Braddock. Oh well. Quickly this turned to turned to the East Pittsburgh Expressway, which is, as the name suggests, and expressway. Fortunately, the shoulder is wide and mostly clear. Through the rust belt I went. Perhaps riding on this road could be redeemed by better scenery, but as it was, I was counting the miles to the first turn into a residential area.

The expressway was over soon enough, though not after fighting stiff headwinds and a climb or two. A quick descent through a residential neighborhood left me at the foot the climb on Arcania Road. A quick switchback led to Public Road, and yet more climbing. Public Road is not quite Dirty Dozen worthy, but it still requires effort, and made me again consider replacing my cassette (currently 11-24 with a 50/34 tooth combo on the front) to something a bit lighter for Princeton (this would not be the only time the thought crossed my mind). I criss-crossed a series of streets, and landed on Lincoln Way and spun my way through White Oak. A few miles later, I reached a decision-point: what seemed to be the next turn at McClintock Road was not marked. I stopped for a moment. To my left was a steep climb on shoddy pavement. Lincoln Way continued along a creek. Understanding the nature of this ride, I pointed my wheel up the hill. It took a mile or so to find a mailbox with the full address on it, but I was indeed on McClintock. This is a pleasant, mostly rural, residential road, with rolling hills, including one that is quite steep.

Crossing US Route 30, I found myself on Leger Road, the apparent centerpiece of the ride and home to the its namesake. This is a fine stretch of road, generally devoid of homes and traffic, passing through overgrown woods and finishing along a tawny creek. When mapping the ride, I noticed in Oscar’s description he adds this when describing what to do at the terminus of Leger Road:

After a steep and narrow descent (Indeed! –ed), you have the option of turning right over the trestle to Ardara on SR993 (left) and returning through Trafford and Turtle Creek. Instead, be tough, keep straight, and ride up and down some more hills…

Never one to be soft, I went straight. And up. And up. And up. Then up some more. Then I considered getting off and walking my bike. But I was tough, so I didn’t (remember when I mentioned the whole gearing thought? Yeah, I had it again). Oh, and the road surface is horrible. I can, however, appreciate Oscar’s vision. Ardara Street starts innocuously enough, but it just keeps going. Then, somewhere near the top, it gets steep. Dirty Dozen steep. Then it goes up a bit more.

The descent down Mahaffey would have been a relief, except that this, too, is steep. Combined with silly-strong winds, and I had my hands full. All in good fun, though. This deposited my on SR993, and I was on my way home. Except for the headwinds. They were strong along 993, and once I was on SR130, they got worse. At some point, between Pitcarin and Turtle Creek, I was going down a hill, out of the saddle, pedaling madly. I looked at the computer. 11 MPH. Not good. Once into Turtle Creek, I started the climb up Greensburg Pike, thinking that perhaps I would be spared more headwinds. I was wrong. The Pike is not a steep climb, but it is long, and in the wind, the section at the top is endless. At least it’s all downhill from here.