The Long Way

So I was asked to attend the monthly board of directors breakfast by my manager (this month’s topic was product development so the executives wanted to introduce some of the hired help). Okay, I said, figuring the meeting would take place somewhere near the office. I soon find out the breakfast would be held at the Best Western in Greetree. Hmm. I decline the numerous offers for a ride from the office, figuring it was only a mile or two longer than my usual commute (given that I could get the West End as quickly as I could the South Side). If I were a bit smarter, I would have left the laptop at the office (I squeezed in some work after the boys went to the sleep when Jen was at the gym) and its ten pounds or so of weight, but I am not and I didn’t. As an added bonus, I had to carry a lock.

Looking at the handy Bike PGH commuter map, I saw that I could safely get to Parkway Center via the West End. The map, however, didn’t mention that Greentree Road begins with a half-mile, 7-10% climb. I pondered swapping out my rear wheel for the Miche build, with its 18 tooth rear sprocket, last night, but laziness and other things got the better of me. The extra tooth would have been nice. To add insult to injury, I awoke this morning to the pitter-patter of rain. I cannot recall the last time I rode to work in the rain, but here it was, on the day I had to actually look presentable, rainy and warm. I left later than I wanted (small children blur the definition of punctuality), but I was off, in the dark (did I mention the breakfast started at 8:00 AM?) and rain.

The only point of the ride that was moderately stressful was crossing the West End Bridge and skirting through the West End Circle to Steuben Street. Traveling in the opposite direction of the morning rush hour helped tremendously, however, and soon enough I was climbing Greentree Road. This was not fun. In any way, really (and this from someone who doesn’t mind hills). I was wishing for a bigger gear and less weight. And having never been on the hill before, at every twist and turn I was hoping for the crest, or at least a level bit, but it wasn’t to be. Finally, after grinding along at a granny’s pace, the hotel appeared. I locked the Surly to a railing, gathered my stuff, and found a restroom. I was warm, and so was the interior of the hotel. Not good. To complicate matters, the paper towel dispenser in the restroom was an automatic model that took 20 seconds to dole out a single sheet. At least I picked up some clean-up wipes last night.

Ten minutes later, I was entering the breakfast room, and by the time introductions were finished I think I had finished sweating. During the meal, my product manager leaned over and said something to the effect of “gee, it’s cold in here.” My response was that it felt quite nice, and thanks to it, I’ve finally stopped sweating. The meeting itself was mostly uneventful, and the group at my table spent most of the time grilling my manager about new products. Cycling did come up, as our CEO is an avid cyclist (and commuter) and one of the board members joining us cycled across America.

The ride back to the office was uneventful, save for passing back through the West End Circle. I wasn’t quite sure what I needed to do, so I just waited for the green light and pointed my bike east and hoped for the best. It seemed to work out alright.