This was something Helen and Elizabeth had wanted to do for a while, apparently, and one evening after too many beers at the Cage, I decided I had always wanted to do it as well. I sent out a few e-mails and pretty soon we had quite a little posse. Dave Hershberger did a little research and found out all about the Youghiogheny River Trail (the "Yock", short for "Yock-ah-gain-ee", meaning water that flows backwards or some such).
Dave and I did a test ride on July 21, about halfway up and then back.
We found that August could be hot as hell in Pittsburgh. Also more
importantly, that the McKeesport-Boston "leg" of the trail is crappy
and mostly along heavily trafficked and bike-unfriendly highways. So
we decided to start the actual ride from Boston.
Many e-mails later, we -- Elizabeth Blum, Kyle Costello, David DeLong,
Uljana Feest, Elissa Helms, David Hersherger, David Petrou, Allison
Pultz, Jimi Shanahan et moi -- set out bright and early from the
Boston trailhead. Joining us later by car would be Julia Caldwell,
Patty Conkel and Jackie Sullivan. Joining us even later would be
Helen Perilloux, who was a last-minute dropout. She hadn't slept the
previous night, being too busy making Cajun burgers to grill when we
reached Ohiopyle! Mid-afternoon, she decided she could bike after
all, and did the 60 miles alone. Dan Baselj showed up at some point
as well, but I can't remember when or how (I'm writing this 6 months
later in England).
Anyway we headed out from Boston, taking it quite easy, except for David Petrou, who took off like a bat out of hell and got there 3 hours before everyone else. Then I had a flat, and no pump or patch kit! My cell phone was useless: not even the ghost of a signal. (Sprint PCS is really shite outside of urban areas). Luckily I was ahead of the group, so I just waited until I was rescued by the amazing Mr. DeLong. Then he had a flat, so we were well behind, or so we thought. In about half an hour, though, we caught up with the others, who were taking a break.
A little further on, there was an inviting-looking bit of river, so we
had to stop and splash around a bit (by this time it was mid-day and
really hot). I think we had lunch somewhere in the
vicinity. During lunch we received a call from Petrou saying he was
already at Ohiopyle and where the hell were we? Petrou is a freak. He
The last 6 miles of the trail were the best. A gentle ascent through
shaded woods, often with the Yough right alongside the trail.
We reached Ohiopyle, found we had overshot the campsite, and turned back. To get to the campsite from the trail, we had to go up a very steep slope!
We struck camp, waited for the car people and Helen, and had a
The next day, we had a huge breakfast and just kinda sat
around. No one felt like biking back except Dave "recumbent"
Hershberger. We saw him off and meandered down to the river. Some of
the more energetic types went rafting. Moi and the other cool kids
just wallowed, inasmuch as one can "wallow" in ice-cold water.
Total biking time: about 5 hours. Total distance: 60 miles . The actual time was 7 hours, but we probably spent at least 2 hours on breaks/flat repairs/lunch. (David Petrou did it in about 4 hours non-stop.)
Tips for next time: it all went surprisingly smoothly. Early August was not a good time, though (too hot, and no shade for most of the way). Probably much better in September. The trail is very well maintained, mostly crushed gravel. A mountain bike is not really necessary, a hybrid would be fine. Petrou did fine even on his super-advanced featherweight road bike.