For 2023, we’ve added a brand spanking new 600K route. It’s a traditional pair of 400k and 200K loops with a hotel control (the Hampton Inn in Homestead) in the middle.
As this is emphatically not a daylight-only ride, lights and reflective gear are mandatory. In addition, a significant portion of the route is on unpaved or poorly maintained roads and trails, so choose your tires wisely.
The first day takes us east through Turtle Creek and Trafford, picking up the Westmoreland Heritage Trail through Murrysville and Saltsburg, where it becomes the West Penn Trail. After passing through the Conemaugh Lake recreation area (including a US Army Corps of Engineers dam and a blocked-off tunnel resembling a side door into Mordor), we’ll make our way to the next controle, the Sheetz in Blairsville. A steady gradual climb over the next 30 miles (much of which is on the Ghost Town Trail) takes us to the Dunkin controle in Ebensburg.
Forsaking trail for roads over the next 80 miles or so, we’ll head south, traversing state game lands on our way to the Fishertown Country Market controle before heading southwest through Berlin(see note for mile 151 below) to pick up the GAP trail in Rockwood, at which point it is (almost literally) downhill for the next 100 miles to the overnight controle. The GAP will take us all the way back through Confluence, Connellsville, and McKeesport to the starting point in Homestead, where we can optionally nap, shower, change into fresh clothes, or whatever before embarking on the next leg.
The second day is a slightly kinder variation of our Weirton 200K route, made nicer by simply removing the Weirton bit :). From the overnight controle, we’ll follow the trail into Station Square (just across the river from downtown Pittsburgh), then over the hills through Carnegie and Robinson to a long rolling stretch on Old Steubenville Pike. In Florence, we’ll controle at the Grab-n-Go, then head south through Burgettstown to a classic jaunt through Hickory and Houston to Mingo Creek State Park. Mingo Creek will funnel us down to New Eagle, on the banks of the Monongahela River. East and south to the penultimate controle at the Donora UniMart, before crossing the river to return on the low-traffic Bunola River Rd side. Finally, we’ll re-rejoin the GAP in McKeesport, for a familiar and easy 10-mile trail return to the hotel.
There will be a room reserved at the Hampton Inn, which will be available for showers and (limited) napping space at the overnight controle on the 27th. If we have significantly more participants than I expect, we’ll look into reserving multiple rooms.
At mile 42, the route follows a causeway across the Conemaugh River. If the water levels are too high, the causeway may be impassable; in which case, an on-road route from mile 39.5 to mile 46.1 is as follows: Leave westbound trail, L on Auen Rd for 1 mile to R on Quick Rd for 1/2 mile to R at T on Clarksburg Rd for 3 miles to R at T on Newport Rd to rejoin route at mile 46.1
At mile 151, there lies a 24-hour Valero convenience store. That is the last 24-hour store on route until the Sheetz in Connellsville at mile 210, so stocking up here is encouraged.
At mile 181.5, the controle is at Mitch’s Fuel and Food in Confluence, PA. Mitch’s closes at 7, as do the majority of the other businesses in Confluence. If the store is closed, feel free to take a selfie if needed for proof of passage.
At mile 192, you’ll be passing through Ohiopyle. Historically, the park rangers have discouraged through travel after dark, so I’d suggest avoiding them if possible.
At mile 210, you’ll controle at the Sheetz in Connellsville. This is the last obvious opportunity for resupply until the overnight control 50 miles later.
At mile 275.6, a 24-hour GetGo convenience store is two blocks off route in Carnegie. This is the last 24-hour store for the next 65 miles, so, if you’re riding quickly, you may wish to restock here, as most subsequent stores along the route are not open until 7 AM.
At mile 297.4, the Grab-n-Go controle is closed from 8 PM to 7 AM. Feel free to take a selfie if needed for proof of passage.
At mile 342.2, the UniMart control is closed from midnight to 6AM. Feel free to take a selfie if needed for proof of passage.
Registration closes: Thursday May 25th 2023
Hotel and parking: We have a room reserved Saturday night at the Hampton Inn (c0ntrole 1, 7, and 10) for pizza/showers/changing/napping. That said, the hotel lot is fairly small, so I’d suggest that those not reserving a room at the hotel park at any one of the nearby public lots.
Inspection opens: Saturday May 27th 3:30 AM
Requirements: current RUSA membership, signed waiver, headlight/taillight/reflective gear
Proof of passage: Electronic proof of passage is strongly encouraged. No brevet cards will be available unless requested in advance.
Ride start: Saturday May 27th 4:00 AM (40:00 time limit)
Checking in from the road: Please be kind to your easily-worried RBA and send me a quick text (412 915-6206) when you arrive at each controle, if you encounter any significant problems, and when you complete. This is especially important for the timing of pizza orders and similar crucial matters.
Overnight Controle: The overnight controle room will be manned by volunteer Jim Logan from 5PM Saturday to 5AM Sunday, then there will be a brief gap in coverage until I arrive around 6 or 7AM; I’ll keep the room open until 10AM or so.
Ride end: I will be in the area, within half an hour’s drive if anyone is in need of support. Otherwise, please just text me when you’ve completed, and send me your proof of passage within the next couple of days so that I can submit the results ASAP.
Cue sheet: Credit to Tom Hovan, Ghostly-Galavant-600K-Cuesheet.xlsx