An Introduction

I am not a cyclist, but I love travel, new experiences, and adventure...

I'm Sarah, the Program Manager for Friends of the Riverfront, a nonprofit in Pittsburgh that has been building trails and restoring the region's riverfronts for over 20 years.

The 25-mile Three Rivers Heritage Trail has helped transform Pittsburgh from an industrial city to a green one. We work to build, maintain, expand, and promote this riverfront trail system for cyclists, walkers, runners, commuters, and rollerbladers. The Three Rivers Heritage Trail is also a Pittsburgh hub, connecting to larger trail systems.

This year, we celebrate the completion of the last link in the Great Allegheny Passage - the final mile to form a complete trail connection between Washington D.C. and Pittsburgh.

In anticipation of the official grand opening Point Made! celebration on June 15, I'm joining the grand opening ride to pedal 335-miles from D.C. to Pittsburgh on the C&O Canal Towpath and the Great Allegheny Passage.

Count down the days -- and miles by taking a virtual tour with me from the Capital to the Burgh! I hope you'll enjoy following me on this amazing ride!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Point Made!

Day 8: Homestead, PA to Pittsburgh, PA on the Great Allegheny Passage

When I peeked through the curtains of my hotel window, into the blinding sunny morning at The Waterfront, the first sight I saw was a cyclist pedaling by. Already, the crowd of over 1,000 bike riders and trail enthusiasts were beginning to arrive for a momentous day.

Today was more than just a personal celebration of accomplishment for all the riders on our trip, who had made it from D.C. to Pittsburgh by bike in just over a week. It was a celebration of a long-awaited trail completion, many years in the making, and the longest continuous bike trail in the United States.

As I put on my special edition Point Made! jersey, I felt such pride and accomplishment like an athlete stepping to the podium. Just a short ride from our hotel, the ceremony was about to begin at Sandcastle Waterpark, and with our whole group in matching uniform, we became a strongly bonded team. 

Over 1,000 trail enthusiasts in the crowd
The grand opening ceremony began at 10am with speakers including Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Congressman Mike Doyle, former Mayor of Pittsburgh Tom Murphy, Department of Conservation & Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Dunn, Project Manager Jack Paulik, and Allegheny Trail Alliance President Linda Boxx. 

Linda Boxx, President, Allegheny Trail Alliance
Everyone talked about the time it had taken to build the trail, the way it had brought different groups together to work toward a common goal, and how the completion of the trail is an achievement that everyone should be proud of.

The 24-hour relay team arrives

With Peter, Nathan, and Dave at the grand opening
The 24-hour relay team arrived to lead the procession of cyclists toward The Point, starting at the edge of the newly completed trail. The ride was slow, with the crowd of 1,000 or so cyclists riding single file towards the city.

Riders on the new section of trail, others wait to begin riding

Riding toward Pittsburgh near the South Side
At the Hot Metal Bridge, everyone walked their bikes up the switchbacks while a steel drum band played cheerfully below. With the city in view, the idea of a trail system stretching from the nation's capital to my hometown was finally something I had some perspective on, and my excitement grew.

Crossing the Hot Metal Bridge
One of my favorite parts of the ride was on the road near Point State Park, where everyone was trying to figure out bike parking. Tom Murphy, the well-loved former mayor of Pittsburgh was suddenly riding right beside me and we guessed at parking options while waiting at a red light.

Bikes were locked or checked at bike valet stations and everyone headed toward the fountain where the final mile marker of the Great Allegheny Passage is embedded at the very point of The Point.

Victory at Pittsburgh! Point Made!

Great Allegheny Passage Terminus
At 1pm, there was an unveiling ceremony at the big stage in the park, and more speakers shared their stories about the historical significance of this trail, the history of the Point, and what the trail means for the City. It was all started off with the presentation of the relayed American flag that had flown over Washington, D.C. and was now raised in Pittsburgh.

The relay flag is raised at Point State Park
The design of the mile marker is unveiled
After the ceremony, our group went back to the plaque at the tip of The Point for a final celebration of our accomplishment.

Point Made! riders at The Point
Riding the C&O Canal Towpath and the Great Allegheny Passage from Washington, D.C. to Pittsburgh, PA was such a wonderful experience, and I had the pleasure of meeting the most amazing people in our group, while riding on the trail and stopping in trail towns, and the virtual riders who followed my journey.

Up next I'll post some notes and suggestions for anyone thinking of making the trip. Also still to come, the complete photo album!

8 comments:

  1. Great blog! My friend and I did the Pitt to Cumberland section 2weeks ago and the Cumberland to DC section the year before camping along the way. What an amazing journey, thank you for sharing yours. Thanks also to the volunteers who made the trail A reality.

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  2. Thanks again for sharing this historic ride. Great job Sarah!

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  3. Sarah,
    Congratulations. You not only rode so far and so well, but you took the time to share pictures and words so that others could join in on the adventure.
    You are an inspiration to all that are thinking of riding this incredible trail.
    Sincerely,
    Seth

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    1. Thanks Seth! It means a lot. Thank you for planning and coordinating such an amazing trip for all of us and being so passionate about the trails!

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  4. Congrats Sarah on your trip and it was pleasure reading your blog all last week and finally meeting you at the GAP Mile 0 by the fountain. Two friends and I did PGH to DC last Sept and are doing DC to PGH this Sept. 7-12. Your blog gave me further inspiration to train little harder. Thanks and I bet you'll plan another long bike ride soon as you mentioned when we talked yesterday.

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  5. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences! It was great meeting you at lunch in West Newton. Keep on riding!
    Betsy
    for more pics of Point Made!, click here: http://www.trailphotos.biz/Great-Allegheny-Passage/Point-Made-61513/30017152_29JQhT#!i=2578480173&k=TmLZj2j

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  6. it was an awesome site to see the trail complete

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