The Pittsburgh Off Road Cyclists

photoMcCandless-20130303-00102 I usually schedule my blog posts about two weeks in advance but I had to jump the line here to tell you all about a perfect day of mountain biking with a really fun group of riders……of all ages. The cool thing about PORC is that it is a mountain bike club which is open to riders of all ages and abilities. The club focuses on rides in the Western Pennsylvania region. There are nightly rides during the week in a lot of different venues in and around Pittsburgh, with weekend rides in the mountains east of us as well as more local venues.

Today was the annual PORC Pignic(not a spell check-haha) As the riders assembled, it was a gorgeous day here in the ‘burg and the venue was North Park. The air was cool with a temperature in the high 50s, the sun was shining and the leaves are starting to turn color here and fall gently on the 42 miles of trails that we have in the park. It was a perfect day and there were over 50 riders participating in many different types of rides ranging from fast to beginner. Like my other passion, skiing, the neat thing is that folks can participate at their level and then enjoy the comraderie after the ride. The nice thing about mountain bikers is that they really like to eat and also drink their beer-post ride. The grills were lit, the beer was tapped after the rides, and for most of the riders the post ride hunger and thirst was satisfied at the pignic. Elizabeth and Lee Klevens shot some amazing photos. They are a talented couple who provided a really great mosaic for the new OTB Cafe in North Park which will be opening soon.

Most of the rides lasted for 3 hours so you can imagine the appetites and the thirsts that developed. PORC has attracted a most interesting and eclectic group of outdoor enthusiasts. John Hinderliter is a real outdoors guy as well as a world class illustrator. Don Cunningham,a television sports engineer, brought his homebrew and poured it over fresh hops which really enhanced the taste of an already excellent brew. Dr. Jack celebrated his 65th birthday. The guy doesn’t look 45 because he keeps himself in excellent shape riding almost every day. Bob Bannon- the fearless leader of the group is one of the strongest riders and he is older than me- the 58 year old kid. You wouldn’t know it riding behind Bob with his excellent technique over the rocks and roots that define riding in our area. Johnny McWilliams had the fast guys in tow as they set a blistering pace that burned off several of the ambitious riders who joined them. I picked up the stragglers and had a more reasonably paced group where you could look at the leaves and enjoy the conversations and the laughter instead of concentrating on the guys wheel in front of you and trying to hang on the climbs. That is the good thing about being a leader. The group has to follow you and you can dictate the pace. That Johnny Mac is tough and he is the only one in that group that had some gray hair starting to sprout. But as I first commented, there were young gals and guys and older guys and gals who rode together in various groups and all had a great time with the common denominator being the love of the trails and the joy of pedaling a bicycle off road. The gray hairs and the young set together enjoying one of life’s pleasures as a team in the woods. I saw a lot of groups where some of the participants looked to be the age of other riders parents or even grandparents. It was a testament to inclusion. It just goes to show you that if you continue to exercise and enjoy sports or activities, you can stay in good shape, and meet a lot of people both young and old. The old guys live vicariously through the exploits of the fast guys and the younger set marvels at the shape and conditioning of some of the older riders. We learn from each other. The younger new riders benefit from the experience of the older folks and us older folks are brought up to speed on the cultural changes of todays society by riding with the young guns. A truly wonderful dynamic and all meet at the melting pot of the post ride meal.

Mountain biking is fun and it is a strenuous activity that keeps you in good shape. There are a lot of folks my age who have thrown in the towel. They come home, put on the boob tube, eat and go to bed. But the PORC crew kind of espouses what Jimmy Buffet says when he sings,” I’d rather die while I am living than live when I’m dead.” If you are older, don’t give up the ship. Be the Oliver Hazard Perry of life and rage against age and complacency like Oliver did against a much stronger and powerful British Navy. Riding or skiing with younger folks keeps you in the game. Riding with your peers acknowledges the fact that mutually you are still in the game. Take a tip from the PORC crew and enjoy the trails, the leaves, and all that the great outdoors has to offer. Thanks for reading.

2 thoughts on “The Pittsburgh Off Road Cyclists

  1. Bill says:

    Pat could have not been said better …although today i kicked myself for i for got about the picnic and road all around you changing up the ride but i still am living the dream!

  2. Art Bonn says:

    Good one Pat.

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