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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

50 miles, 5,000 feet and 4 Red Bulls at North Park

On Friday the doctor gave me the all-clear to ease back into exercise following a bout of bronchitis. I’d been off of my bike for 10 days and was feeling very antsy. After feeling great riding Friday, Saturday, and Sunday exploring Settler’s Cabin it was time to "ease back" into an Epic North Park ride. I’d been planning “Epic North Park” for some time and was determined to do a 50-miler before the end of the year. With the weather looking like it was going to turn-for-the-worse by the weekend I decided to take a day off work and go for it.

Starbuck’s and a blueberry scone for fuel I set off nice and early. I started slow as the trails were a little wet and slippery, but it wasn’t long before I was calibrated to the wet roots. Typically I’m a solo rider, but when I do ride with others it’s not long before they realize why I’m infamously named “the camel”. It’s extremely rare for me to carry fluid – I typically hydrate before and after a ride. Knowing this was going to be a long ride I stashed a four-pack of Red Bull in my car just-in-case.

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My goal was to ride most the trails at North Park. I particularly wanted to take in the connector trail to Irwin Road, the Dr. J Trail and the trails in the northwestern part of the park as I had never ridden them before. I knew I’d have to have some trail duplication and have to ride some pavement to hook it all up, but it was mostly going to be ride-it-once single track.

I parked by the ice rink and started on the east side of the park by climbing North Ridge Drive and then taking in most of the eastern single track (and Irwin Road & connector). I crossed Babcock Blvd with 16 miles under my belt.

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I proceeded to the southern trail system. Again rode pretty much everything – including the Dr. J trail – exiting this part of the park crossing Babcock Blvd at 26 miles.

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After riding the Koto Buki and Police Academy trails I was feeling (unusually) a little thirsty and decided to take some pavement back to the Red Bulls.

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32 miles down, 18 miles to go - I sucked down 3 Red Bulls at my car and headed on my way to ride the west and northwest side trails. I rode most of these and was back at the car at 48 miles.

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As the goal was 50 miles I had another Red Bull and headed back to the east side to catch a little piece of single track I’d missed the first time around - ba
ck at the car at exactly 50 miles & 5,130 feet of climbing.

Post by Simon T


  1. Simon, nice ride! How many "unique" miles do you think there are in NP?

    ~ Gregg

  2. Gregg

    My best guess is that there are 40 miles of uniques unpaved trail at North Park.

    Here are the ride stat's:

    50 miles total
    43 miles unique (35.5 miles trail, 7.5 road)
    7 miles duplicated (5 miles trail, 2 miles road)

    Total trail = 40.5 miles (incl. 5 miles duplication)
    Total road = 9.5 miles (including 2 miles duplication)

    The Allegheny County GIS (mapping) department reports 43 miles of unpaved trails. I'm guessing this includes some trails that biking is not permitted on, i.e. the Braille Trail and the Nature Center Trails north of Brown Road. However, my ride also included some trails that are not on the County map yet. If you look at the maps I posted showing the mapped trails versus what I rode - you can see I rode almost every thing at 35.5 miles of unique unpaved trail (although this includes about 1 mile of the gravel Irwin Road). There were quite a few little connecter trails that I didn't ride.

    My guess right now is there is at least 40 miles of unique unpaved trails at North Park!

  3. this would be fun as an annual group ride.

  4. I had never ridden them before. I knew I’d have to have some trail duplication and have to ride some pavement to hook it all up, but it was mostly going to be ride-it-once single of pennsylvania hospital


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