Monday, September 9, 2013

Pittsburgh to Ohiopyle: Take One.

The most ambitious journey I have ever taken began much more lively than it ended. I took on the idea of biking 80 miles to Ohiopyle, PA from Millvale, PA on the GAP. Firstly, it was about 85 miles to Ohiopyle. Secondly, Ohiopyle's campground is crap to get to, then crap to camp at. I have never camped in my life. Lastly, saddle sores hurt. A lot.
The ride out on Sunday morning was gorgeous. The weather was perfect and the GAP has foliage covering most of this trip's ride. Just like PedalPGH, the first 20 miles were brutal. After that it got easier. The views were incredible and better yet, it was the first time in a long time I got to spend some quality one on one with my bestest friend. We chatted through the whole ride out all while blasting music through my Jambox. The first 60 miles were kind of cake. I could feel fatigue setting in and my butt hurt. Around mile 60 seemed to be where the climbing began. So we steadily climbed. Around mile 70 we thought we were close. We saw Connellsville and thought Ohiopyle was only another 10 miles or so. Wrong. Ohiopyleofpoop is about 20 miles from Connellsville. Mile 75 has a nice view of the river, then you climb some more. The closer we got the more people advised us not to take the road to the camp ground. On the trail we met a woman named Dee whoet us know we were close to town and should go see the river. So we did. We thought we finally made it.
There are 2 ways to get to the campsite. Straight up a several mile long hill on a narrow road with little to no shoulder, or a walking path. Dee found us in town when we were heading to camp and offered us a ride. I was dead tired, so we took her up on it. She was in her 60s and listening to Arcade Fire when we got in. Awesome lady and super friendly. I am glad we took her up on the ride. I never would have made that hill.
The camp site was $20.00 and not worth it. The grounds were so rocky that Mike bent all the stakes trying to get a tarp over the ground we were sleeping on. I also had a hard time gathering enough sticks for a fire.
Our site neighbor was a friendly hippie lady from California who currently resides in Cleveland and was traveling her way to Ashville. After meeting her and eating, Mike and I did what any camper does at night around a fire. Pulled out the Kindle and watched Rounders. This was awesome because we used to watch this movie all the time in highschool together. Then we crawled under our tarp and went to sleep. It sprinkled steady all night but the only incident we had in our bed was a daddy long legs in the morning. Which made us both jump. I will spare the details. They are as boring as this blog.
The next morning we woke up, cleaned up, filled water up and hoisted ourselves up out of that damn campground. The hill we did not ride up was awesome to fly down.
The bottom of the hill, around mile 4 was when I figured out my ass had sores and my lady bits hurt. 81 miles to go.
I fell apart at the first big bump in the road. Mile 10 brought our first and only flat tire of the trip. Lucky for me, it was on Mike's rear tire! 160 miles and one flat is acceptsble. But by mile 20 I was over riding. I wanted a shower and a bed. I put all my panniers on Mike's bike in an effort to stay in the game. Mike now carried a billion pound hiking backpack and both my panniers. Mile 30 was just past Connellsville and now due to trying not to have my ass rub anymore, my hips were killing me. I also noticed slight knee pain in my left knee. That is a new pain. I have never had it before. Mile 40 was West Newton. Mike and I were barely speaking. I was almost in tears. Standing to pedal as much as I could I started to realize I might not make it the whole way. Mike suggested I stop in South Side and he would come get me.
By time we hit the Boston bridge my body told me it was time to throw in the towel. I stopped at a friend's to see if she was home and could ride me the rest of the way. She wasn't. So we continued toward the Waterfront. 20 or so miles and I would be there.
This is when Mike and I decided to split up. He rushed ahead to my house to get the truck and meet me at McDonalds in the Waterfront.
This was my breaking point. My emotional breakdown. I sobbed uncontrollably at the idea I wasn't going to finish. When he went around a bend and I lost sight of him I sobbed again. I was alone and I was frustrated with myself. I wanted so badly to finish the way I started. By bike, at home.
I don't know if it was the anger, or the rain, but after Mike left I averaged my fastest 10 miles of the day. Passing McKeesport and finally into the Waterfront. As I passed McKeesport the rain began. I kept going. Pumping my legs hard. I almost ate it on a joint on one of the bridges, but I saved it by throwing a foot to the ground. Somehow.
I got to DcMonalds (inside joke of sorts) around 4:30. Mike arrived to pick me up around 5:45. I was so happy to see he made it safely, and I think he was happy to see I made it too. We ordered him a milkshake and loaded my bike into the truck.
I did not make it this time. Next time I know what to expect. Next time, we are riding the 11 extra miles to camp in Confluence instead. I will make it next time. I know I can.
In conclusion, riding 160 miles in 48 hours is a lot of riding. Saddle sores suck. Hip pain should not be taken lightly. When your body tells you it is time to stop, you have to set your pride and determination aside and stop.