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Ahhh, a good night’s sleep in a hotel after pizza and chips … a long distance rider’s dream come true! Thanks again to Westmoreland BMX for taking care of our two most important needs: food and rest! Following track director Steve’s advice, we pedaled about a mile down the road to the King’s restaurant and the local Laundromat. After getting our dirty laundry into one of the huge washing machines, we walked to the restaurant. Frankenbutt took his turn outside with Coco while the Beast and I ate breakfast. We ordered breakfast to go for Frankenbutt from the slowest waitress in the East. It was almost like watching Tim Conway work behind the deli counter in the old Carol Burnett Comedy shows. The good news is that when the food arrived, it was quite good.
With breakfast behind us, we headed to the Laundromat to switch the laundry to the dryers. In that short a time, the temperature went up by about 10 degrees and we were in a full blown sweat in the short walk to the Laundromat. It was going to be a hot day of riding.
With laundry folded and stuffed back into panniers, we turned on the GPS @ 11am and started to ride towards South Park. We turned onto Old Frankstown Road and found gentle rolling hills, what a nice change of pace! I started to believe that Pennsylvania was leveling out. I was wrong. Again.
Around 12 noon, the sun was high and hot overhead, the hills were getting to killer grades and we were still tired from the 2 days’ prior riding. We found ourselves each having to push the other ones to keep riding. As we neared McKeesport, I kept in mind that Michele from Westmoreland had said there was a lot of construction. We turned onto 5th Avenue and then climbed, climbed, climbed for about 5 miles. The grade was manageable but there was no bike lane and very little shoulder. Drivers were mostly respectful and a few actually hollered words of encouragement.
At the top of the road, we saw a “GET GO” convenience store and made our way across the road between traffic signals, ready for fresh water. We were all a bit hungry and opted for sandwiches. We still had some bags of chips left from our Westmoreland friends, so we sat at the picnic table out front and enjoyed a relaxing hour or so as we lingered over our chow.
None of us were eager to get back on the bikes, figuring it was going to be even more steep hills. We were so pleasantly surprised to find that the next section of construction ahead was almost completely downhill. We made our way to the front of the stopped line of traffic and the flagman let us lead the cars down the hill, hitting 33 mph! It was soooooo nice! And it really cooled us off.
But … it was short lived, as all down hills are. Soon, we found ourselves on Lebanon Church Road, with no shoulder, through construction and getting ever closer to the afternoon rush hour. The friendly drivers must have all gone home and left nothing but the super impatient grumpy drivers. They started doing malicious things. After swerving slightly to go around us as we rode, they’d come back in around us and pull so far right that we’d have to stop and wait for the construction traffic jam to move ahead before we could move. It was really frustrating.
We figured out that we needed to break up the last part of the ride into South Park into smaller more manageable pieces. We would ride a few tough miles and then pull off the road to regroup. Of course, doing so meant lengthening the time it would take to get there AND we ended up 5 miles from the track at 5pm, the height of rush hour.
One incident in particular bothered me. During an uphill climb in 90 degrees of scorching hot sunshine, a driver slowed down and had his kids hang out the windows, giving us the finger while he and his front seat passenger yelled “F*#& YOU!” I tried to shrug it off but it bothers me still as I write this. I’ve concluded two things: 1) there is not a “share the road” attitude out there and 2) I’m a magnet for moronic jerks!
We needed a break after that and spotted a Target department store. We wheeled in, parked our bikes in a shady spot and went in with the intention of replacing 2 basics we were running low on: toothpaste and deodorant. While in the store, I passed through the pet supply section and found a replacement soft side kennel for Coco. Her kennel has deteriorated so much from sun damage that my dental floss stitching wasn’t going to hold up much longer. Luckily, I found a very similar, almost same size kennel in my favorite color: Red! Plus, it was only 20 bucks! Sweet.
Finding an affordable kennel replacement lifted my spirits a bit and I decided to get a surprise treat for the Beast. She loves Monster Trail Mix with M&M’s, peanut butter chips, peanuts and raisins. I also picked up a few boxes of Velveeta shells and cheese, an easy “just add water” dinner plan, in case we got hungry later. I got Frankenbutt a treat, too. Actually, the new shavers are more a treat for me.
We were greeted by Don Wagner and Dee Brain, who welcomed us to the track. We talked for a short while and then looked for a good place to pitch our tent. With the tent up, we wandered back to the track and saw Michele from Westmoreland who gave us nice big hugs. After a tough day of riding, a BMXer hug washes so much of it away.