Urban Escape (20)

Getting out of Pittsburgh was just as hard as we imagined it would be. It was hot, humid, and we were plagued by steep hills and busy roads with no shoulder.  Ironically, we mailed a number of random items home this morning, one of which was Rachel’s inhaler. Shortly afterward, we encountered a steep hill with no shoulder, which made me wonder if sending it back was a mistake.

It took us about 15 miles to escape the urban sprawl, although it felt longer. Both of us were relieved to make it to this point, and, while we were pulled off to the side of the road planning our route, a few friendly strangers checked to see if we needed directions. One of these individuals was named Jim, and he said he saw us earlier in the day when he was driving the other way, and then drove back later to see how far we had made it. He proceeded to ask if he could do anything to help us, but we politely declined. When we told him that California was our destination, he assumed that we meant the nearby town in Pennsylvania and was blown away when we clarified.

The people that we have met have been very kind, except for the occasional hooligan flipping us the bird or yelling something unrecognizable as they motor past.

In the afternoon, the sky let loose with rain, thunder, and lightning. We took shelter underneath the porch of a vacant drive-through restaurant and got moving again once the storm calmed down.

When the sun began to set, and we discovered that there were no nearby campsites, we backtracked a little to reach a Holiday Inn in Belle Vernon. We had a warm welcome at the entrance by three gentleman named Brian, Justin, and James, who were working their way through a cooler of beer and hard cider. Within five minutes of our arrival, they offered us some, so we stuck around for a few and came to learn that they are all in the area working long-term. Since we hadn’t eaten dinner yet, when we saw an opportunity to leave, we took advantage of it and checked into our room.

Robert, the concierge, gave us a suite with a hot tub in it for the same number of points as a standard room. We ordered delivery pizza and brownies and called it a night!

Trip stats, to date (Day 20)

  • Pittsburgh, PA to Belle Vernon, PA
  • Daily mileage: 49.0mi;  Trip total to date: 1,149.4mi
  • Daily riding time: 4hr 26min;  Trip total time: 95hr 51min
  • Daily ascent: 3,183ft;  Trip total ascent: 49,366ft
  • Flat tires: Rachel – 1; Chris – 0


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