Pittsburgh: Pause for Recovery. June 21 – 24, 2015.

A whopping 78 miles covered today, all of them painful. At least I kind of knew what to expect this year, and I had this guy to ride with for a while.

Jack and I live here now. Carnegie Coffee Company.

It seemed like the sun came out as soon as we rode out of the valley, but much of our clothing was still painted in mud (my sleeping pad to this day bears a dubious smear of mud/wine on one end…at least, I think that’s what it is). The Lululemon-clad skinny latte sippers gave us a wide berth when we took over the quaintest little alcove of the coffee shop, fanning unwashed riding gear out on armchairs to dry, charging starved devices, and chomping breakfast sandwiches between grubby fingers.

I turned to Jack and said, “We live here now.” As someone who goes from park to park, building ramps for the nearest BMX event, and may just as well spend a night under an 18-wheeler, on a buddy’s couch, or once in a while in an actual bed, Jack would be someone who knew exactly what I was talking about.

I just hope my incredible efficiency at making myself at home doesn’t offend future hosts.

Farewell for now at Pitcher Park Memorial Skate Park.

Jack’s ride would take him to a buddy’s further north while I continued to west, but we had a bit more time to be in the moment. This being Jack, we stretched out in the sun dappled grass at a skatepark he knew. He pointed out the fence he didn’t quite clear and broke something (a disturbingly common theme). I shook out some ants I discovered in my helmet (hopefully not a recurring theme). And then it was time for me to roll, to a new city for scoot but familiar city for me: Pittsburgh.

Walking down Butler near our digs in Lawrenceville.

Plus, I was excited to see Matt again, it had been New Years in California when I saw him last. Pittsburgh was the destination of the first road trip Matt and I took together, so naturally I asked if he wanted to meet me there. It’s funny to realize, while I may cross paths with many people as I scoot near their home turf, Matt stands out for being someone who comes out just to ‘visit’ on the road. Heya!

Matt and barbecue at Union Pig & Chicken, a repeat visit from my first time through PGH.

Unlike the coffee shop, this time I felt a little bad for arriving with my desperate laundry situation, damp boots, and the occasional ant still clinging to my helmet (when did I accrue a personal ecosystem?). Oh, and then there were these bug bites:

This is what happens when I’m in nature.
Matt takes it upon himself to help brush off my boots for Nikwax
application. What a sweetie.

The day passed sleeping in, running life admin, seeing a movie at the theater, going on food quests around town, catching up with friends, and blogging from a coffee shop while Matt read a book. I was feeling human again. It was a beautiful rest day, even better that I could spend it with someone I share a history with. Now neither of us live in Rhode Island anymore, but Pittsburgh signified the beginning of being back on familiar territory.

Matt wanted to take advantage of the comparative ease of gun rentals at firing ranges, so now we’re also cardholders of a gun club in Pennsylvania.

Pew pew pew, they loaned us guns and we shot tiny holes in paper.
Eileen and Kellen (last seen at an epic Memorial Day on Block Island, RI) for fiery Thai at Pusadee’s Garden.
Pierogi quest.
Cured meats from S&D Polish Deli were purchased for the road. This comes into play later.
Okay, one quick food closeup.

After divvying up Polish deli goodies, I reluctantly said goodbye to Matt at the bus station and an elaborate logistical dance that I’d been planning for over a month was about to go into effect. Several weeks back, Eileen had reached out to her local friend, Geoff, and asked if I could store my scooter for a few weeks at his bike shop, Slagheap Cycles. I would take only my backpack of clothes and a day bag. For one afternoon in the city, Jack would ride back into town for another goodbye, and deliver me to the airport.

I’d accepted another work gig for the same marketing company responsible for the Boomchickapop Vespa team (see January), and I’m flying to California!

My scoot goes into temporary storage at Slagheap Cycles. Thanks, Geoff!
Toolin’ around the city through Jack’s eyes, on the back of his DR-Z! He took this photo with a crazy lens on his phone.

From the back of Jack’s bike, the wind tore at my sunglasses (I’d opted to borrow a helmet upon arrival rather than carry mine) and my bottom half felt naked in just tights and running shoes (the job requires black boots and mine are brown, so I’d asked Tim to locate and ship a pair of riding appropriate black ones from storage in RI to Pete in CA, thanks guys. Wow, this really was a lot of coordination. I should have gone into bank heists).

It was a difficult decision to leave my bike, even temporarily. It felt like I was saying so many goodbyes in such quick succession, while emotionally preparing for hellos on the other coast. I’d set a plan into motion and it’s just me and my bags now, clinging tight, literally to Jack from the passenger seat, but also figuratively…I guess I just feel more helpless without my bike.

But Jack and I found a nice view of the city, rode over some rocks (seriously, DR-Z is awesome!), and there is nothing as cool as taking a bike to the airport!

Farewell vista courtesy of Jack’s ride. See you next month, Pittsburgh.

Thank you to everyone who made this possible, from coming out to meet me, storing my things, shipping my stored things, or otherwise being one or more moving part that put aside a little time for me.

After this California interlude, it’s time – I need to check Lubec, ME off my list.

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