Myself, Jim, and Jon ventured out into the cold today in search of a nice wintry century. At least the wintry part was a smashing success...
The intention was to nail down a century for purposes of the UMCA Year-Rounder Challenge, as January is drawing to a close. Rather than re-use a familiar and well-known route, it seemed like a good idea to go venturing into unknown territory; find some new roads, climb a few hills to keep warm, and all that good stuff.
Now, as every good route designer knows, the most important thing is not elevation profile, well-spaced rest stops, scenery, or areas of historic import; the single most critical thing you can do to create a successful route is to come up with a cool name. Sadly, I came up with "Tour de Trek Store"; but I never claimed to be a good route designer.
Simple route concept; starting in town, visit each of the four Trek of Pittsburgh stores in turn. With a few strategic road choices, a century was easy to put together. Eliza Furnace Trail out to the South Hills and TRM in Castle Shannon; then, over through Mt Lebanon, Heidelberg, Carnegie, and Collier on the way to Trek of Robinson. Cut over through Moon and Coraopolis to Sewickley, then climb the ridge and make our way over to Cranberry and the third Trek store. Finally, Red Belt our way back to town via Etna, then over to Trek of Shadyside and a triumphant return to the trail in Oakland. It was a nice idea, anyway.
We made it as far as Trek of Robinson without incident, although the cold was definitely starting to take its toll. I was happy to find that Trek had one(1) pair of Pearl Izumi booties large enough to (just barely) stretch over my size 48 clodhoppers, which greatly enhanced the comfort of my feet.
Once we started the climb up Beaver Grade Rd, however, it quickly became apparent that Jon was lacking the energy to finish the ride. He put up a darn good fight, but simply bonked too hard to realistically contemplate the second half of the ride. So, we cut it short in Coraopolis, and made our way back to town via the traditional Neville Island/McKees Rocks Bridge/Calfornia Avenue return. Jim suggested that he and I make a trip out to Tarentum and back, in order to get our miles in; it would have been a good idea, but I simply wasn't in the mood to ride a route with which I was very familiar; at least not when a comfy house, hot coffee, and a warm shower were a mere 3 miles away.
All that said, I'm very pleased with the route; a bit trafficky in the South Hills, but has plenty of varied and enjoyable terrain, including some lovely ridgetop roads. If scheduling permits, I think I'll take another crack at it next weekend.