Author Topic: Looking for advice from Pittsburgh, west to TA.  (Read 18834 times)

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Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Looking for advice from Pittsburgh, west to TA.
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2023, 01:20:08 pm »
I actually did not ride that section. I had put together a group through the Companions Wanted listings here and wound up with many responses that eventually boiled down to a group of 5 committed to the start. In the end one started earlier to go at a slower pace and never really joined the group. The two faster riders started earlier as well, with the strongest rider starting on the ocean in Virginia and the other joining him along the way. Only two of us actually started at mile 0, although the 2 faster riders did meet us at the start.

Even though I had spent over 100 hours in planning, and we had numerous online meetings, the group dynamic was not great from the start. I knew in the first days it was only a matter of time before we started to break up. My fear was that I would have one other person dependent on me and if I quit that would leave them solo. I was just not enjoying myself and the thought of 9 more weeks with the group weighed heavily on me. The night we camped at Cedar Creek I woke at 3 am and made my decision to throw in the towel rather that be unhappy and possibly develop or display a negative attitude that could impact someone else's dream. When the other riders left the trail in West Newton I rode on to Pittsburgh to the end of the GAP. Our strongest rider, Santo, who was the only one to actually complete the trip as planned, did keep a great trip log which you can find here.

Santo and I still stay in touch and I was able to help him with some logistics and planning challenges along the route. One thing I can say from the folks I have spoken with and the trip logs that I have read, the Eastern Express is a very lonely route. If I had a chance to do it again, (still thinking about it) I would start solo on the traditional TransAm route where you could fall in with a loose group of others riders that happened to be traveling at your pace. That is what I did when I thru-hiked the AT. Unless you have completed similar challenges with a friend of family member, putting together a group of riders that stayed happy and compatible for 10 weeks would be a miracle.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline RossKB

Re: Looking for advice from Pittsburgh, west to TA.
« Reply #16 on: February 12, 2023, 03:59:04 pm »
Hi Everyone, I wanted to add a different perspective here and say a word for taking the GAP all the way into Pittsburgh.  One of the things I love about bike touring is that there are a million ways to do it and everyone can find what works for them.  For me the human built landscape is every bit as interesting as the natural landscape.  (It may because I am a history professor and my field is the history of technology!)  For human built landscape of interest you really can’t beat the GAP going into Pittsburgh.  Going northwest from Connellsville, you go through towns where there used to be coal mines, beehive ovens where workers made coke for Pittsburgh steel mills.  Going into Pittsburgh you go by some really important sites in the history of technology.  The Edgar Thomson steel works in Braddock, across the river, is where Andrew Carnegie started making steel in large quantities. (They are still making steel there.).  You pass some of his original libraries.  You go right by the site of the Homestead Steel works, where one of the most important strikes in US history took place in 1892. (Still some remnants left, but most of the area is a shopping center.  Avoid the temptation to stop at the Costco!) In the late 1800s and early 1900s people would come from all over the world to see the steel mills in Pittsburgh.  Most of this area is economically depressed now.  HikeBikeCook, I see where you are coming from—it is not the idyllic stretch of the GAP from Confluence to Ohiopyle—but is pretty great bike infrastructure through a major US city.  This picture isn’t beautiful, but I treasure it because I got to see where our world was built. There were a few other bikers, but they didn’t impede my enjoyment of the route.  Personally what I love about bike touring is that there are no flyover areas—you see it all.  I did the GAP and then basically the Adventure Cycling version of the Eastern Express out to Dayton.  From a practical point of view the GAP takes you into Pittsburgh and then you have 9 miles of on-road riding to get to the Panhandle Trail.  I didn’t find that to be a problem, but I did it on a Sunday morning. (Planning on doing it all again starting late April as part of a TransAm.).
Happy and Safe Riding,  Ross 

Offline Nyimbo

Re: Looking for advice from Pittsburgh, west to TA.
« Reply #17 on: November 13, 2023, 12:31:07 am »
rootchopper wrote the following
You can bypass Pittsburgh by heading west from West Newton PA to Wheeling WV and pick up the Chicago route there.

Does anyone have any more detail on taking this approach to getting from Wheeling, WV to West Newton and the C&O?


I know I am reading an old post, thought I'd comment anyway.
From Wheeling to the GAP i believe the route I took was called the Panhandle trail.  Not giving advice because I am only trying to remember my route from 5 years ago.  I do remember putting up a tent in someones back yard for the night (with permission)
along that trail.