Good times must come to an end - My C&O and GAP Pandemic Tour - CycleBlaze

October 11, 2020

Good times must come to an end

Cycling from West Newton to Pittsburgh

Typical view from behind the handlebars out of West Newton
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Bright Morning Bed & Breakfast has been on my GAP must-stay list since my 2014 tour. Rob and Marylou are superior innkeepers. The inn is beautifully maintained. The location is perfect for a first or last day ride from/into Pittsburgh. Rob’s culinary talents show in the excellent breakfast. Yes, it is all about the food. 

Cycling through the valley of steel
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It was a short 36-mile ride into Pittsburgh. Panniers placed back on the bike and off to the Steel City I rode. The final leg of the tour is completely different than the other days. The trail passes through a series of small riverside pass-through settlements. The economic effects of the collapse of the valley of streel are evident in the surroundings. 

Sculpture close up at the pump house
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The trail meanders close to the river level along the Monongahela. Boston is a notable stop about 14 miles out of West Newton. The local trail organization operates a visitor center and gift shop. This is the place to buy reasonable t-shirts, sweatshirts, and such. I picked up a long sleeve GAP performance shirt for only $30. The volunteers are always friendly. 

I pedaled into McKeesport after a few miles winding through the city on a bike path along the river. I climbed the bridge over the river and continued riding towards Pittsburgh. This section of the trail has some interesting climbs above active factories and railways and across bridges. This is where the steel industry is still alive and front and center. 

My first view of downtown Pittsburgh from the Hot Metal Bridge
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Homestead is the gateway to Pittsburgh. The former US Steel Homestead Works has been transformed into a destination retail and housing complex known as the Waterfront. The Homestead Works Pumphouse is situated at the entrance to the complex. This historic building is a remnant of a violent labor dispute that resulted in the deaths of workers and guards. It is an interesting photo-op and trip back through history. 

Cycling along the Waterfront gives the cyclist many opportunities to dine and shop. A series of green spaces after led me to the Southside and the Hot Metal Bridge. This bridge was integral in transporting molten iron from the furnace to the mills across the river. Today it is a bike and pedestrian bridge with a stellar view of Pittsburgh’s skyline 4 miles away. 

The Medallion at the Confluence of the Allegheny, Ohio, and the Monongahela Rivers
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The last four miles were fast passing along and under freeways, parking lots, and the jail (not the most scenic of the 150 GAP miles). A few years back the Monongahela Wharf project constructed switchbacks that eliminated city street cycling through downtown to Point State Park. 

Point State Park, specifically the fountain and medallion marking the confluence of the Allegheny, Ohio, and Monongahela Rivers was my target. C&O and GAP through tourists recognize this as the ending point of their tour. I snapped the required end-of-tour photos and celebrated the journey of my fellow tourists near the fountain. 

My end-of-tour photo at The Point State Park
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It was only a few miles along the Allegheny waterfront trail to the convention center ramp up to Penn Avenue near the Grant Street Transportation Center. I joined my fellow cyclists at our end-of-tour lunch at a Penn Avenue dining establishment before pedaling two blocks to my car. 

Bike unpacked, car loaded, and clothes changed. I got in the driver's seat and headed home. It is always a unique experience to be behind the steering wheel after traveling 350 miles over 7 days on a bike.

My touring partners and I at the Point State Park fountain
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Today's Route

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C&O and GAP Trivia

Carnegie Homestead Steel Works Pumphouse. The steel works was the site of a series of industrial disputes leading to the Homestead strike in 1892. The strike culminated in a battle between strikers and private security agents on July 6, 1892. The battle was one of the most violent disputes in U.S. labor history. The final result was a major defeat for the union and a setback for their efforts to unionize steelworkers. The pumphouse is one of the last remaining structures of the steelworks.  Source: Wikipedia

Today's ride: 36 miles (58 km)
Total: 354 miles (570 km)

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