Pittsburgh to Cleveland trip – tips, route advice, and what to expect?
So sometime in March or April, I plan on taking one of my vacations from work to do a bike trip to my parents’ house (about 25 miles to the west of Cleveland), for no other reason than to know that I can. I’m still in the baby steps of planning. I just recently took the step from “Maybe I’ll do that someday” to “I’m doing that this spring.” I have no route planned, and so far, my preparation has only consisted of riding longer and more difficult rides than I usually do (I spent the summer doing at least two 15 mile or longer rides per month, including as many hills as I felt I could handle. This is a lot for me, considering my commute is about 2 miles, and half of my commute to work is downhill).
As of right now, my plan includes riding more, especially this winter, and to stock up on non-perishable snacks that I can take with me, and try to plan my route so that there’s plenty of places along the way where I can stop to eat or hydrate.
This is the first route that google suggests.
If anyone has done this trip before, or can offer long distance ride advice, preparation techniques, anecdotes, route suggestions, pictures of cats, or could help in other ways, please do! thanks
i’m not super familiar with the road that they send you out of the city on, but there are most likely more pleasant ways out of pgh, like babcock
That’s exactly the route I followed coming from the other direction. It worked well for me. The idea is to follow the river valleys, and the old portage route between the Erie Canal and the Ohio River (you go through Portage County). Its the flattest route possible.
There are always places to stop, like convenience stores etc. You are not in the wilderness.
I like that kind of travel and stealth camping. It took me say a day and a half to get here from Cleveland. I use a Hennessy hammock tent, which is easy to set up and doesn’t require cleared ground, and slept in a copse of trees behind some of those circular bales of hay some place in Ohio.
I think aside from physical strain, the hardest part for me will be that I’m most comfortable biking in unfamiliar places when it’s night time and there’s no traffic (certain exceptions apply, such as the metroparks in cleveland – that was a little scary, because I was just surrounded by trees).
I oughta get over my fear.
This is one of my favorite my mother’s least favorite rides since she lives about 20 miles east of Cleveland. I usually surprise her when I ride my bike there and she is never happy. I have only done it solo and I kind of like it that way which might explain why I can be quiet even in large group rides. I wouldn’t worry about anything too crazy but, just be prepared and have a way out should you be stranded with a mechanical issue.
In my opinion it’s easier than most century rides you will do considering you will do 2-3x as much climbing without a choice in half the distance pedaling around here.
These are two routes I have taken. I have no idea what’s going on with the bridge in Rochester and if it’s still closed. Also, 51 north is fine and has a huge shoulder for almost all of it. I’m usually in Ohio by 10am so I ride the 51 leg really early. There are parts that have no shoulders and blind curves so keep that in mind and take lights in case you take a little longer than planned and are riding near dusk.
There is supposedly a bike trail from Akron to Cleveland. I have never tried to find it but I expect to scout some of it sometime soon.
@Erica: Here’s a route to Akron that the Pittsburgh Randonneurs used a couple months back. The only parts that were kinda icky were the bridge across the Beaver River on 351 (mile 37 or so, no real shoulder and a bit of a climb) and the last 7-mile stretch before hitting the trail system in the city (mile 115-122 or so, lots of traffic).
if there is indeed a decent trail/route from Akron to Cleveland, that’d be an option.
Some of this depend on whether you want to stay at Motels and B&B’s or camp. A lot depends on how long you want to take.
Randoneur types go to Cleveland in a very long day.
Fifteen miles is a distance for you, now. You’ll be doing some training between now and the trip. You are looking at somewhere between 4 days and a week, I’m guessing?
For me, when I was training to do a trip, I would do 3 training rides a week. One ride was for distance, one pacing, and the third intervals (short hill climbs, repeatedly).
To avoid unnecessary type 2 fun, I would recommend doing a couple weeks where the distance workout is farther than you want your daily distance to be. That’s assuming you’ll be doing days in a row.
Like, if I wanted to go 25 miles west of Cleveland in 5 days (about 36 miles per day), I would want my distance workout to be about 45 to 50 miles for 2 or 3 Sunday distance workouts before I took the trip.
I hope this helps.
The route that Google suggested in your first post has much room for improvement. I will think on this but it will take me a little time. I don’t work with these digital-y map-y programs much.
In general, you should be able to get close to Akron on ruralish roads, connect to the Cuyahoga Natl Park trail, connect to the Cleve Metroparks parkway to the West side, and avoid all kinds of sub-urban nastiness.
Here’s some bike trails that end up in Cleveland: http://www.ohioanderiecanalway.com/Main/Map.aspx
I’m riding from Kent, OH tomorrow. Planning on sticking to the route I posted above and will look at Dan’s route for the Rochester detour. I take it the usual bridge is still closed in Rochester?
Greg, the Ambridge bridge is the only one closed in the area that I know of. So, you’re basically stuck doing 51 from Coraopolis over Stoops Ferry and all the way to Monaca, rather than hopping across the river.
Edited to add: Correction, since you’re coming inbound, you’re stuck doing 51 FROM Monaca TO Coraopolis.
Oh, I have always gone up 51 from McKees Rocks bridge through Neville and then 51 all the way up. I didn’t try the 351 route but maybe next time. It was a cold and I wasn’t 100% prepared for it.
Stay the hell away from Rochester… if you can. Not a single honk my whole way down. Then I’m on the bridge, hoping that if I get hit by an angry car, I won’t have to survive an 80 foot fall as well. They were royally pissed at my presence, at least 5 of them. I can’t really imagine a “fun” 4+ day adventure out of this ride and Rochester again is the only truly miserable part of the ride. There were two semi trucks that passed me so close somewhere in Ohio that I could touch the trailer. For some reason it didn’t scare because I know the drivers are true professionals and the 4 foot law doesn’t apply there….
I took the “fun” way coming back. I missed the bridge to Neville Island and stayed on 51 on accident, also got 2 flats on the slope. Also, I got a nice map of the NE Ohio area trails from a shop, including the tow path that goes from Akron to Cleveland. I’ll look for it online or get a good hi-res picture of it. They have a really nice key that classes all the roads and trails from beginner to expert.
When we rode from beaver back to town that way, people in Rochester were nice. Didn’t get any honks as we passed traffic on the Rochester Monaca bridge. 51 between Monaca and crescent township was another story. If we didn’t get onto the shoulder in a hurry, a white pickup would have killed us.
I rode 51 from the Montour Trail to Monaca this afternoon. No probs but I will acknowledge that Beaver County is not… progressive.
The good news is, all the shoulder is on 51 South, there’s no shoulder on 51 North. I would suggest:
1 get your drinks and make a head call before you depart Monaca (maybe at Yolanda’s Pizza, I really like their pizza).
2 There’s a lot of violence in downtown Aliquippa. Just keep pedalling between Monaca and route 151.
Good people at a restaurant? This isn’t another zombie related thing is it?
I have never ridden any part of 51 with a group besides the short leg with you and Dan through Coraopolis to the trail. Do you think it’s better solo or with a group so that cars really shouldn’t miss you? It’s definitely not a place to have a slow, ~10mp pace on unless you enjoy cars buzzing by you at 60mph for a long period of time.
Here’s that map of some North East Ohio roads/trails and a PDF. I was told that the gray “existing trail” on the left of this map running north of Akron is the tow path. I don’t know where it ends exactly. I am also curious about the one that runs in an arc just north of Kent. I will definitely check these trails out before the winter and report back.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic. Click here to login.