An Elegy for Pittsburgh

July 18, 2023
17.48 miles

I’ve been very fortunate to spend the past four years in Pittsburgh, and I’ve developed a great fondness for this city. Now of course, most of this is due to the wonderful time1 I had at school and the amazing people I’ve met here. But a nontrivial part of my attachment to Pittsburgh is derived from the fact that this is where I picked up cycling as a hobby. Growing up, I always enjoyed riding my bike, but it was on the trails of Pittsburgh that I first came to think of myself as a cyclist. I’m excited to graduate college and start the next chapter of my life, but I’m also a bit sad to go.

Bike on bridge in front of skyline
My favorite “iconic Pittsburgh” bike picture, from a previous ride (Click on any image to view at full resolution.)

I’ve done bike rides in far more famous places—from the glorious Pacific coastline to the legendary peaks of the Alps—but the trails and roads of Pittsburgh will always hold a special place in my heart. So, the day before I left Pittsburgh for good,2 I thought it’d be nice to take one last slow, meandering ride along the trails I so love.

Pink blossoms in front of city and river Grafiti against skyline Abandoned barge by river
Some pictures from rides earlier this year along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, including blossoms, Color Park, and the abandoned barges (Click on any image to view at full resolution.)

I set out from my apartment in Oakland and rode a loop around the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, exactly as I’ve done so many times in the past few years. There were a couple of minor complications to keep things interesting, of course—there was a small road closure, and the air quality was a bit suspect given the recent Canadian wildfire smoke.

A highlight of the trip was covering some new ground; I rode through Herrs Island (also known as Washington’s Landing), a small island in the middle of the Allegheny River. I’d previously been on the island, but I had never gone all the way to the northern tip of the island, which actually contains a pretty nice park. Sadly, the park was infested with the highly invasive spotted lanternfly. The fountain was on at the Point today, which is always a bonus.

Red steel monument Grafiti under bridge Staircase down to river
Some pictures from this ride: steel worker monument, graffiti, and Washington’s Landing (Click on any image to view at full resolution.)

Anyway, as a somewhat sentimental person (I think), it’s a bit sad to leave Pittsburgh; I don’t know when I’ll next get a chance to ride here. Two summers ago, I never imagined that I was doing my last loop of the Montour trail. The workout routes that used to form the bread-and-butter of my riding will also be sorely missed, and of course the GAP as well. I’ll even miss the ridiculous climbs.

I find that it’s somewhat easy to get stuck in the CMU bubble within Pittsburgh; cycling was what allowed me to break out of that and feel like I was really part of the city, and I’ll always be thankful for that.

  1. Naturally, one chooses to remember the good times and not the bad…↩︎

  2. Okay, I have at least two trips back planned within the next year, but I just returned the keys to my apartment, so Pittsburgh is no longer my home.↩︎