Walls Are Bad

After a harsh winter, it's time to embark on an urban adventure during Great Outdoors Week.

After being holed up in our houses and cooped up in our pothole-ravaged cars all winter long, it’s high time to embrace the great outdoors. One way is through the ninth annual Great Outdoors Week in Southwestern Pennsylvania, which kicks off on Fri., May 14. This 10-day ode to the outdoors features tons of fun, physically challenging and environmentally friendly activities—from cleanups along some of the region’s best trails to rowing lessons and almost everything in between.

Want to impress your co-workers with your weekend plans? Two words: dragon boats. The Three Rivers Rowing Association is offering free rowing lessons on Fri., May 14, at the Millvale Boathouse training facility. Anyone older than age 12 is invited to learn how to sweep (single-oar rowing), scull (double-oar) and dragon boat (think: collaborative kayaking), or just to learn what those terms mean. Participants can get comfortable with paddling techniques on rowing machines and indoor tanks before moving out onto the water. Bring sunscreen, or since this is the ‘Burgh, possibly an umbrella. Info: threeriversrowing.org, 412/231-8772.

Attracting more than 2,000 cyclists every year, Pedal Pittsburgh starts at South Side Works on Sun., May 16, and takes riders on tours of the neighborhoods and design landmarks that make our city unique, like the Morningside business district, East Liberty’s historic enclave and the Mt. Washington rain garden. Participants can choose from six courses—ranging from 6 to 60 miles—so a good ride is guaranteed whether your interests are casual or competitive. Registration is $25, but a T-shirt is included, and all proceeds benefit the Community Design Center for Pittsburgh, a nonprofit organization that “promotes quality of life through good design of the built environment.” Info: cdcp.org, 412/232-3545.

The following weekend, be sure to check out the Venture Outdoors Festival on Sat., May 22, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Point State Park. Here you can warm up with a yoga session, work up a sweat by kayaking or scaling a rock-climbing wall and then cool down by fishing at the newly renovated Monongahela Wharf. Best of all, it’s free. Info: ventureoutdoors.org, 412/255-0564.

Categories: Sports