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Long smooth, uninterrupted descents?

This topic contains 29 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  ajbooth 1 yr, 3 mos.

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byogman

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Apr 8 2013 at 8:54pm #

I’m looking for something smooth, scenic, and relatively empty that drops and drops and keeps dropping for at least 2 miles, preferably 4 or more miles, at a 2.5-5% grade.

Guessing there maybe are some nice roads around seven springs that are getting quiet now that would fit the bill? Specific recommendations appreciated if anyone has any.

And if something fits the bill closer to home, so much the better.


Drewbacca

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Apr 9 2013 at 12:05am #

If you are ever around Altoona, Gallitzin down past the HorseShoe Curve and into Altoona is a beautiful ride. I’d start at the Allegheny Portage Railroad in Cresson and end at the Knickerbocker Tavern in Altoona. Traffic is light and the shoulder is fairly wide along the top of the mountain where it is mostly flat… then there is a long decent that is about five or six miles. The first three miles down is steep but you can maintain enough speed that cars are unlikely to pass (if there are any cars). From the Horseshoe Curve tunnel on it’s closer to a 2.5% grade along the city reservoirs. This is a well traveled route by cyclists in Altoona, especially the section from the Curve back down into the city.

I found the following link which follows some of the route (in the opposite direction): http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/2461103


JaySherman5000

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Apr 9 2013 at 7:05am #

Up on Mt Washington, Bailey/Boggs Ave and Southern Ave might be close to what you are asking for. Both are fairly long, gentle slopes down the mountain, and when I was up there on a Sunday evening, there were no other vehicles on the road.


jonawebb

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Apr 9 2013 at 7:25am #

The drop down into Cumberland from the Continental Divide on the GAP is the best possible combination of scenery, smoothness, and emptiness. Plus you can take a train the other way, to Meyersdale, so you don’t have to ride back up if you don’t want to.


byogman

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Apr 9 2013 at 8:36am #

Thanks for these. What’s spring garden avenue like coming down from mt. troy road? I ask because I theoretically could ride over there from work on an extended lunch break.


reddan

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Apr 9 2013 at 9:05am #

How about riding up through Riverview Park to Perrysville Ave, then down East St all the way back to town? Not zero-traffic, but probably fine for a lunchtime ride. ~2.5 miles, average grade -2.3%: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/2329830

There’s a couple of traffic lights, so it’s not completely uninterrupted.


Mikhail

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Apr 9 2013 at 9:30am #

reddan wrote:Riverview Park to Perrysville Ave, then down East St all the way back to town

And if you fill bored going downhill then make a right turn just before mile 2.0 marker. :)


byogman

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Apr 9 2013 at 9:36am #

I thought about that… at some point I wanted to check out Suffolk and that’s the logical way to get there.

Would you suggest claiming the lane here? The limit’s 35, which, with a steady assist from the hill seems not bad, but the whole bit about paralleling the highway I guess I’m concerned triggers the “gun it!” driver reaction.


reddan

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Apr 9 2013 at 9:37am #

Mikhail wrote:And if you fill bored going downhill then make a right turn just before mile 2.0 marker. :)

Or at mile 1.3…those switchbacks are a real joy, especially with oncoming traffic…


reddan

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Apr 9 2013 at 9:39am #

byogman wrote:I thought about that… at some point I wanted to check out Suffolk and that’s the logical way to get there.

Would you suggest claiming the lane here? The limit’s 35, which, with a steady assist from the hill seems not bad, but the whole bit about paralleling the highway I guess I’m concerned triggers the “gun it!” driver reaction.

I usually ride in the right half of the lane on East St, rather than dead center…never had abnormal problems with people passing too closely, and traffic is usually light enough that passing is no big deal anyway.


StuInMcCandless

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Apr 9 2013 at 10:34am #

I ride inbound East fairly regularly (and may in the next hour, in fact). Kinda trafficky, but the bigger problem is that the pavement is so crappy. I find myself paying just as much attention to holes and the gravel that used to be the pavement that is now the holes, as to traffic. I rather prefer plain old Perrysville, which is a fairly pleasant roll downhill from Riverview Park. One light at North Charles; one stop sign at Perrysville; a bit busy as you get close to North Ave. But it was just repaved last year, so is quite smooth, and traffic is rarely a big problem.


byogman

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Apr 9 2013 at 11:22am #

Definitely looking for smooth pavement since I’m contemplating this as a joy ride. I enjoyed the descent down the federal street extension very much because of how smooth it is, let me move straight along before hitting the brakes as semi-blinding speed. Just was over way, way too quickly.

I just wanted to capture the joy (slightly less blindingly) for much, much longer. And I’m willing to work for it. Perrysville is ok, but probably steeper than I need, and since I’m going up that way, was looking for alternates.


pinky

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Apr 9 2013 at 11:46am #

Noblestown Rd, starting in Crafton and ending at Main St in West End is a nice fun downhill.

See from mile 1.25 to about mile 2.5 here:

http://www.endomondo.com/workouts/174786341/4256506

It’s not as long as I think you want, but it’s fun for sure.


ajbooth

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Apr 9 2013 at 12:20pm #

Since you mentioned Seven Springs, I’m guessing that you don’t mind traveling to find your hill of dreams…on the Mon Valley Century ride, there is a hill called Lo Hill, in the Brownsville area (Route 2089 and Route 88 which is long and relatively steep. The reward for climbing it, however, is a bodacious descent. I set my land speed record on the way down that hill a couple of years ago (54 mph) and I remember it being smooth, lightly traveled, and with great visibility all the way to the end.


StuInMcCandless

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Apr 9 2013 at 12:39pm #

It’s illegal as ****, but the inbound I-279 HOV lane is closed to traffic both directions from late morning to mid afternoon. From the park & ride to the 9th St exit is the very definition of your specification.


byogman

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Apr 9 2013 at 12:41pm #

Great suggestions everyone. Another one that came in outside the boards was Kittaning Pike if anyone has a comment there.

Pinky, I think I may be checking out yours soon. I actually used to commute over that road semi-frequently… trying to remember pavement quality… don’t notice as much in a car. Now, getting up there from downtown, I have to gauge my comfort level with that part of Carson and west end circle.

There’s plenty of stuff already posted on that I think, so maybe if you can just comment on the climb from there to the top. Do you go up Steuben, cut over in flatland, and then just climb up the way you suggest to descend?


byogman

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Apr 9 2013 at 1:10pm #

ajbooth, street view fails for what I’m ~guessing~ the section of low hill road is you’re talking about. Don’t suppose you have a recording of that ride?


JaySherman5000

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Apr 9 2013 at 1:46pm #

@byogman: I’ve pedaled up Steuben to Middletown Rd (about as far up as Berry St) to get to a friend’s house before. It is a really nice descent the other way, but make sure you have a low enough gear for the climb.

If you head up there, I’d recommend using the West End Bridge to get through the Circle. It’s much easier than trying to fight traffic on West Carson, though it’s still not perfect. Just be mindful of the prevailing traffic patterns at whatever time of day you choose to ride.


Val

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Apr 9 2013 at 3:08pm #

If you ride out of Moon Township on the Montour Trail about five miles, you can turn around and ride back downhill that section back to the parking area. It’s closer to the 2.5% mark than it is to 5% but it’s definite;y downhill. Judging from yesterday, there are tons of hot babes and plenty of great scenery, especially if you’re willing to take a break and get off the trail.

I was carrying my hammock and some stuff with me yesterday but never put it up, due to time constraints. But that section of the Montour Run has some cool little spots, rocky ledges and shade trees. If you’re willing to go about 9 miles, you can go through the cool tunnel at Findlay Township, stop for a break, lunch or whatever, and ride back…


Vannevar

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Apr 9 2013 at 9:51pm #

StuInMcCandless wrote:It’s illegal as ****, but the inbound I-279 HOV lane is closed to traffic both directions from late morning to mid afternoon. From the park & ride to the 9th St exit is the very definition of your specification.

Some of us might (or might not) be considering a pre-tri quality check on the HOV lane just prior to the Pittsburgh Triathlon (which includes the HOV lane). I’m thinking, Sunday July 28, 0545, top of the hill.

http://www.friendsoftheriverfront.org/files/triathlon.html

Just saying.


Vannevar

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Apr 9 2013 at 9:57pm #

Val wrote:I was carrying my hammock and some stuff with me yesterday but never put it up, due to time constraints.

Speaking of hammocks, if you go out to MP11.5, the Boggs Trailhead is a designated overnight campground, and there’s a couple of trees perfectly spaced for a hammock. No water on the site though; nearest waterfountain is down by the Enlow ballfields at MP7.7ish or else further west at MP13.5


StuInMcCandless

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Apr 9 2013 at 10:36pm #

No, the HOV is open at 05:45 on a Sunday. It is always open to auto traffic on the weekend, 24 hours all weekend. It opens to outbound traffic mid-afternoon (I forget the exact hour) on Friday and stays open until late Sunday.

The only time the HOV is closed both directions is from the end of rush hour on weekdays to early/mid afternoon on weekdays. Thus, about 11:00 a.m. is a pretty safe time to not encounter any cars on it.

If both gates are down at Perrysville Ave, then it is closed inbound and outbound. It is the only access point on the road where you can safely determine closure for both directions. Every other access point, you can only see that it’s closed there, but not whether it is also closed the other way.


Andrew S.

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Apr 9 2013 at 10:52pm #

To put in my own two cents, if you are looking for downhill cycling joy, the HOV lane is certainly not that. While it may be long and traffic free (either illegally or during a race), it is pretty terrible.

When I’ve ridden it permissibly or otherwise (during the few PGH tri’s I’ve done), it is awful. Be ready to continuously hit expansion joints at high speed and dodge all the shit people throw out their window/broken glass. May be alright in a car but it is certainly not all that exhilarating on a bike.


Vannevar

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Apr 9 2013 at 11:12pm #

StuInMcCandless wrote:No, the HOV is open at 05:45 on a Sunday. It is always open to auto traffic on the weekend, 24 hours all weekend. It opens to outbound traffic mid-afternoon (I forget the exact hour) on Friday and stays open until late Sunday.

Stu, I believe it’s closed the weekend of the Triathlon.


StuInMcCandless

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Apr 10 2013 at 2:42am #

To be honest, it isn’t much fun on a motorcycle, either, for all those reasons.


pinky

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Apr 10 2013 at 7:18am #

Agree that the HOV lane sucks, pavement wise. I was very surprised about that during past Pittsburgh Triathlons. There are tire-eating potholes along with the aforementioned obstacles.

About Noblestown, since it’s my commute, I take the same way up and then back down (or actually down and then back up). Steuben is too narrow and steep for my taste, especially since it basically parallels Noblestown, which is wider and more forgiving on the way up.

Noblestown pavement quality is good inbound (downhill) except for these two spots:

By the carwash on Obey St, there’s a cold patch that’s kind of bumpy.

By the car garage at the bottom of the hill, right where it turns into Main St, there’s a giant lumpy nightmarish cold patch that could probably kill you at speed. I take the lane there to be left of it. But that’s where your hill is ending anyway, so it’s time to slow down.

If you search for a thread that I started a couple of years back called something like “Commuting from Crafton to Downtown” there are lots of good suggestions for handling the West End Circle, West End Bridge, and Carson.


Val

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Apr 10 2013 at 11:37am #

@Vannevar, I appreciate the input! I’m going to plan an afternoon of riding and chilling in my hammock, one of these afternoons before it gets too warm. Just past that Findlay tunnel, there are some really cool-looking spots I want to just stop and hang out at. I may even pack my collapsible fishing pole and see if I can snag a few bass or panfish out of that creek. Pop in the earbuds, have a relaxing smoke and lie around in the hammock; it doesn’t get much better than that!


paulheckbert

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Apr 10 2013 at 12:15pm #

In the book Road Biking Western Pennsylvania, http://www.amazon.com/Road-Biking-Western-Pennsylvania/dp/0762726598 , Jim Homerosky describes a loop that starts in Ohiopyle, climbs Laurel Ridge, then does a nice descent of about 5 miles on the east side of the ridge, then some climbing and rolling hills to Humbert Rd, where it does another nice descent of about 5 miles to Laurel Hill Creek and Confluence. I recommend that one.


paulheckbert

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Apr 10 2013 at 12:21pm #

Also, in the south hills, take Glass Run Rd from Churchview, at the top of the hill all the way down the valley to Baldwin Rd, about 2 miles. That got repaved a year or two ago and was in pretty good shape, the last time I did it. Be ready for the stop signs at cross-streets Walton & Joseph, however.


ajbooth

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Apr 12 2013 at 11:44am #

byogman wrote:ajbooth, street view fails for what I’m ~guessing~ the section of low hill road is you’re talking about. Don’t suppose you have a recording of that ride?

No such luck…my camera stays on my commuter. Maybe this year I’ll try to get some video of the Mon Valley Century–it is a beautiful ride, very scenic.

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