Sunday, October 30, 2016

2016 Coffeeneuring #4, McKeesport

This was "distant diagonal" week, and I went southeast, since that's the farthest I can get purely on a trail. McKeesport is the last really big town on the GAP before you head into the boonies of southwest PA on your way to D.C., fully 17 miles from downtown Pittsburgh.

The day got off to a late start, with a trip to Monroeville that should have wrapped up by 2, but I didn't get on the road for there until 2:30. Coin shows are morning events, and sure enough, by the time I got there, dealers were already packing their cases. With my choices of dealers disappearing with each passing minute, I hurriedly decided on purchasing 20 Buffalo nickels for my annual Halloween handout. (As detailed elsewhere, I always give out coins to the kids, not just money, but items of some numismatic value and educational interest, with the hope that it inspires some kids to become collectors someday.)

For that leg of the trip, I was on motorcycle, but like the first week, parked that downtown and rented a HealthyRide bike-share bike. Where to go? I opted to head for the Hot Metal Bridge, and decide then whether to find something on the level South Side, or head way out to do my distant diagonal. Once there, I chose the latter, but what constituted distant enough? I passed the Glenwood Bridge (still in the city), then the Rankin Bridge (barely outside the city). That was distant enough, but my choices once I got up to street level would consist of some fast food about a mile away, near Kennywood, on a road that's notoriously difficult to bike. Nope, better stay on the trail a bit farther.

Next up, Duquesne. There is a strip mall right across from the trailhead, but nothing resembling a restaurant or coffee shop. I headed up the hill, well into the town, seeing a couple of candidates which I thought I would consider on the way back out. None looked all that appealing, but I chose what was billed as a sub and coffee shop. It even had what might once have been some sort of chest-high street light, with a knob that might work for the rental's built-in cable lock. But I never made it in the place. A gaggle of early teen girls started asking questions. They assumed I stole the bike, and every attempt at an explanation begat further questions. I chose not to go inside, fearing too many more people would find the sudden appearance of a strange white guy on a strange bicycle with a strange story (what's coffeeneuring, anyway? heck, I had trouble explaining a bicycle) perhaps a bit too strange. So, back down the hill -- where a woman in a car at a traffic light also inquired about the bike. The concept of rental bikes has not made it to Duquesne, apparently. Actually, I don't think I saw a single other bicycle in the entire town in the 20 or so minutes I was there. That's rather sad, actually. Duquesne seemed rather sad, actually. The buildings and the people all seemed broken. I guess this is part of what coffeeneuring is about: Get out and experience the areas near where you live, so you know about them first-hand.

Farther out I went, the three or so miles to McKeesport. I had only been out here a couple times, ever, on a bike, and not that many more times in a car, either. It was also approaching sunset, so I further knew the entire trip back downtown would be in the dark. I saw one familiar face on the trail, Yale Cohen, going the other way. I'm sure my appearance on a bike that far out of the city that direction was a total surprise to him. Once I got to the last bridge over the river, I took this photo. As I said in my tweet, I suspect these rental bikes are a rare sight in McKeesport.

Now, where to eat? That late on a Saturday, my choices of eateries was shrinking as fast as dealers at a coin show in late afternoon. But then I spied good ol' local chain restaurant, Eat'n Park, which featured a couple of very nice bike racks right in front of the store. I quickly ordered dinner and coffee, keeping it as simple as possible. I further had not had a proper meal all day, so everything looked good.

It was almost 8:30 by the time I got back on the road. Knowing it was close to 20 miles, I only hoped to get back by 10. As it turns out, I got moving pretty quickly on that bike. Duquesne in 15 minutes, six minutes later hearing the screams from one of Kennywood's roller coasters (I thought they closed eight weeks ago?), passing the eagle nest near Hays in about a half hour, and the Hot Metal Bridge before 9:30. I parked the bike in the same rack I pulled it out of at 9:46, only 15 minutes ahead of my expectation. Despite a 20-minute phone call, I was home by about 10:30. The whole travel day was accomplished in eight hours.
Numbers: 34 miles on the bike (map:
Link), about 40 on the motorcycle. One cup of coffee. Twenty Buffalo nickels acquired, one given as an additional tip for the waitress with a nice, explanatory note.

I'd call that a good day.

1 comment:

  1. Sure, on a whim, jump on a bike and ride 34 miles for a cup of coffee.