No Wrong Plan: Pittsburgh to DC – Day O

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I hadn’t done a bike tour in ten years so I was pretty stoked to do this ride. Ryan and Kevin were too. I rode the 12 1/2 miles from my house to Columbia Island Marina across the Potomac from the Jefferson Memorial. On the way I was passed a man riding a recumbent pulling a low, wide Burley Nomad trailer. He seemed to be on tour and headed to DC. I took this to be a good omen. A few miles later, Lane, a formerly local rando, passed by heading the opposite way. I took this as another good omen.

My bike, The Mule, was weighed down with four panniers – two small but heavy ones mounted on a Tubus lowrider rack on the front wheel and two large but lighter ones mounted on a Blackburn rack on the rear wheel – plus a two-person tent (I need my space) and a sleeping pad on top of the rear rack. The weight distribution was excellent with most of the weight between the two axles. Despite my careful packing, The Mule drove like a school bus. It was a good thing I recently put new brake pads on the back wheel because stopping this beast was going to be a challenge.

I arrived early. The shuttle van came next. The company is called Get Out and Play. Dave and Maria introduced themselves. As it turned out, Dave knew Ryan from Ryan’s previous job working for the state of Maryland. Small world. Kevin and Ryan showed up a few minutes late having been delayed by a breast cancer fundraising event on the National Mall.

Once we loaded up, Dave drove us west. He provided us with a guide book and map. These materials covered our entire route so they would come in handy. Dave advised us that a few of the towns have a meth problem and that we should be careful where we stayed overnight.

After several hours that seemed like no time at all, we arrived at our hotel, the Wyndham, located across the street from the start of our journey. We all agreed that the shuttle was well worth the money and that Dave and Maria had done a fine job getting us to the ‘Burg. If you do this trip, give them a call.

We checked in, rolled our bikes to our room, and headed out exploring downtown Pittsburgh. (The hotel had an automatic revolving door in front that was so big it fit our bikes.) I callled my friends Earl and Anne. Earl is a Pittsburgh native and gave us some ideas for food and drink in the downtown area. We explored the area near the hotel, had a light dinner, then headed across the Allegheny River on the Roberto Clemente Bridge (closed to cars on game days) to attend a Pirates game.

Our seats were located in the Bob Uecker section. We managed to get to them without supplemental oxygen because we are in great cardiovascular shape. (I kid. They weren’t bad at all.)  We soon were visited by fellow bike blogger Colleen. After we chatted, Colleen took our picture. Good to meet you Colleen.

The Pirates were kind enough to do three interesting things. First, they won the game, 7 – 5 over the Cardinals. Second, they had fireworks afterward. (The fireworks were set up on the Clemente bridge. I’d never seen so many.) One display during the performance looked like tall white grass swaying in the breeze. Bravo! Third, the Pirates turned a triple play. And the only triple play that went 4-5-4 (second baseman to third baseman to second baseman) in major league history. It was so unusual that third baseman’s teammates had to tell him to throw the ball to the second baseman for the final out. Weird.

PNC park is a beautiful ball park. They try hard to keep the fans happy. These efforts include captioning underneath the main scoreboard. This looks a bit like a work in progress (e.g., you don’t need to put the words to Take Me Out to the Ballgame on the captioning display when they are five times bigger on the scoreboard right above) but kudos to the Pirates for doing this.

So Day 0, the prologue to our bike trip, was a great success.

Beaucoup pix from the entire trip are on my Flickr page.

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