Monday, July 7, 2008

Bike of July Weekend

The Fourth of July weekend I got back on to two wheels, taking advantage of some clear days or at least clear patches. The humidity of mid-summer often gives way to afternoon showers, pleasant in their own right but not always conducive to a leisurely bike ride.

Saturday morning I rode over to the Firehouse Farmer's market in the strip, to meet up with Ehrrin for the first time in weeks and round out my selection of produce. After getting our fill of the market we headed over to 21st Street for our weekly cup, catching up with Liz and Emily who always keep me laughing.

Saturday afternoon I met up with some pals for one of my favorite trail rides to the Southside, complete with a rest stop at Rita's Italian Ice --- fueling ourselves with fruit ice and frozen custard for the riverside journey.

Barbara and I headed out Sunday morning for a longer trail ride along the Montour Trail. I ran on this trail several times last year while training for my first half marathon, so I was somewhat familiar with the terrain. We started out with a quasi-ambitious goal of 30 miles, and quickly felt what the tired-ness of previous days of cycling. Cutting it short to 20, we realized on the way back that some of the fatigue we were feeling was the result of the trails incline, which made the ride back all the more pleasant. The surroundings were lush, but the traffic on the trail made it a bit less desirable than the Boston trail. It is still a good bet for a long ride closer into town (and when you want to work in a trip to Ikea...).

Sunday afternoon I was eagerly anticipating the Underground Railroad bike tour, and event held in conjunction with Bike Fest. Unfortunately, it looked as though the weather was not going to cooperate, as I prepared to leave rain drops seemed to be pounding sideways, not the best conditions for a ride. The rain cleared, close to the start time, and I stewed a bit until I heard that folks were still gathered, at which point I hopped on my bike and road over to join them. The rain started up again and things looked a little grim, but we huddled around and learned a good bit about the connection of Allegheny County to the Underground Railroad. The sky cleared and we all set out on the tour, through the North Side and into Downtown, stopping at sites along the way for history lessons. This event was put on by the Pittsburgh Major Taylor Cycling Club, who offer several rides throughout the week, and anticipate organizing a ride along the Underground Railroad bike route next year. Riding and learning appeals to me, as I move my body I feel more open and connected to the world around me -- so combining of the two makes for a satisfying experience.

So there was my weekend of diverse rides and getting back into the bike. Tonight I plan on dusting off my running shoes and hitting the rain cooled trail. As much as I enjoy bicycling, I crave the feeling of my soles hitting the gravel.

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