Our sixth day of riding took us into Pittsburgh, THE city of Champions. Okay, I had to add that for the benefit of all the Ohio riders on the trip. I am partial; I lived here for 20 years, so it did feel like coming home, even though I moved away four years ago.
We left our gracious hosts in Youngstown promptly at 9 a.m. I kept Ryan and Pastor Andy up until midnight last night trying to figure out our route. The topography of southwest Pennsylvania creates unique challenges when traveling by bike. I feel like I should know how to get to town, but I’ve been away too long, and was never really familiar with the west side of town. We made it, but only with the help of a local rider, Dave. Our day was not without a mishap, however. A vine hanging in our path caused some riders to brake hard, and Aaron had no time to get out of the way. The sound of a bike (and body) hitting the pavement is something that would make any cyclist cringe. Fortunately, Aaron only suffered a bruised hand and some stitches on his chin. Looks like Kelli will have company in the van for a few days, but we are all thankful that Aaron is happy and relatively healthy. His positive energy is a welcome addition to our group, and his laugh is contagious.
After regrouping, we continued on toward our destination, following the Ohio River. With such a beautiful day, the water was teeming with boats, and our views of the water were great. Finally, as we rounded a turn I saw the familiar sight of the city skyline, and remembered what a great town Pittsburgh really is. The ride finished along the South Side bike trail, then up hill through Schenley Park. At our host church, Redeemer Episcopal, we were met by Rev. Cynthia and her husband Dan. Church members had dropped off scrumptious entrees for dinner, and since the van was still en route from the hospital, we set out the food and had a generous feast. Immediately, we felt welcomed into the family of this church. I had the blessing of seeing a friend from years ago who now goes to this church. Small world, especially in Pittsburgh!
Finally, it was bittersweet to say goodbye to two riders who are leaving the team, Nate and Olivia. It is amazing how a shared experience can build such strong bonds in a short period of time. We will miss them both dearly. However, we did pick up two new riders, Tony Campbell (returning rider from past FCBA rides) and Pittsburgh native Sarah Doren, both of whom will ride into D.C. with us.
Tomorrow is an off day, and with services not starting here at church until 10:30, it looks like the team will be snoozing late. After an 80-mile day, well deserved rest, I say. Sunday afternoon brings a chance to kayak on the Allegheny River, courtesy of friends from Venture Outdoors.