Day 82 08/12/22
Got up early and rode our first six miles on a paved bike trail. It was really a nice way to get the day started. The weather was perfect in the low to mid 70's and we literally rode, non-stop, for six hours. Along the way we passed many deer and Sarah commented, "We have seen a ton of deer today." I responded by saying "I think it's more like 900 pounds." In my literal way of thinking we had seen around six deer each weighing roughly 150 pounds or a total of 900 pounds. Just my weird way of keeping it fun with my wife but she just thinks I'm weird. Forty miles into the ride we were both feeling a little tired but we still had twenty more miles to pedal with a headwind. We finally pulled into Deer Creek State Park, OH, where we got a room at the conference center. Sarah met a couple (Bob and Janet) while ordering food at the pool and they sat and chatted with us during lunch.
We were also joined by a huge ground hog. At first I thought it was a Marmot until a lady squared us away. He would not leave ud alone so we finally had to get up and move.
Spent the rest of the day sitting by the lake waiting to check-in and then got take out pizza for dinner.
Rode 61 miles today.
Day 83 08/13/22
Today is the day we finally get to camp again but we first have to get there. Another beautiful early morning as we were leaving the conference center.
Rode the first twenty miles on beautiful, flat country roads lined with guess what... CORN! We stopped in a town called Circleville which by chance had a donut shop which is known for its pumpkin donuts. This town has a yearly competition to see who can grow the biggest pumpkin. So in the spirit of neighborliness I had to give those bad boys a try and they were delicious. I think my belly was resting on the top bar of the bike as we rode out of town. This all happened just after Sarah swore us off of junk food. That injunction didn't last long. Pedalled on to the next town of Lancaster Ohio where we found an amazing coffee house, just coffee no goodies.
We had to do some grocery shopping so we stopped by a small market before we left town. While I was inside a homeless guy was trying to talk to Sarah from across the street. Fortunately an elderly lady, Wanda, pulled up in her car, got out and asked Sarah if she was travelling. That led to a wonderful conversation, that ended in a hug.
That is how I found them when I came out of the store. Right then the homeless man came up to us uttering indistinguishable words but we were only able to make out that he wanted some milk. I took him inside the store and bought him some milk. That is where we parted ways and headed out of town to Buckeye Lake. There we had a reservation to camp at a KOA. In the little town of Buckeye we passed a place called Hometown Hot Dogs.
We parked the bike and when we opened the door we were suprised to see how packed it was. The hot dogs and slaw were awesome! I went out to check on our bike and ran into a father and son (Art and Ian) looking over our bike. They were interested in the bike and our trip. They took a picture of me and the bike and one of Sarah inside the restuarant.
After lunch we walked outside the restuarant and had many conversations with people waiting to eat. Sarah commented on how it must feel to be a celebrity. It is amazing how much people like to hear a story that inspires them even though they themselves would never do it. Got to our campsite and it felt so good to set up our tent. We had to work on the bike and then took a ride on the promenade around Buckeye lake. It is a man made lake with very nice homes right on the water with their own docks. It would be a great place for a family vacation if it was closer to Colorado.
We got back to our camp and a woman (Heather) came by and offered us dinner which was a wonderful gesture. Bacon lettuce & tomato sandwiches were prepared and brought to our campsite. Home cooked food tasted great! Her husband is the pastor of a little Brethren church. Apparently we just happen to be here on the weekend of a Mopar event. Mopar makes car parts for 60's and 70's muscle cars.
They ran these cars up and down the streets in front of the KOA doing burnouts well into the night.
Rode 61 miles today.
Day 84 08/14/22
It rained last night so we had to pack up a wet tent but not to worry, the tent was doomed to stay wet. Within twenty minutes of getting on the road it started to rain and did not quit until we arrived at our rustic cabin ten hours later. At times the rain was so hard it stung our faces and at other times it just kept slowly soaking us. For a brief moment we had hail but thankfully it was shortlived. In some weird way it was a beautiful ride but at times a bit scary with the traffic. The rain kept a coming until our stomachs were a grumbling. We thought we could get some breakfast and maybe, just maybe the skies would start to clear so we rolled into Zanesville and found a Cracker Barrel restuarant.
We spent at least two hours plus eating and talking to people who wanted to know about our trip. One couple invited us to come stay with them but they were to far off of our route. We had another couple, a few days earlier, extend a similar invitation but for the same reason we had to decline. They even offered to come pick us up and take us back to our route, AMAZING! Leaving Cracker Barrel we realized we had parked the bike in a place where the roof water poured into our panniers. The water saturated our packs and the contents which increased their weight. We were probably lugging around an extra 10 to 15 pounds of water. From this point on the ride separated the men from the boys and it turns out Sarah is way more than a boy. Lots of hills and more rain ahead; we had hoped for less. We finally rolled into Senneca lake where a primitive camping cabin awaited us. It had showers and restrooms that were a half mile away but the unit itself adorned a wooden platform for sleeping and a couple of shelves for storage.
We quickly turned the cabin into a drying rack for all of our clothes, shoes electronics and packs. Dinner was our usual, Top Ramen soup with boiled egg crumbles. It felt like it was right out of the pages of the Boxcar Children. We konked out in our new abode waking the next morning to wet clothes but sunny skies.
Rode 68 miles today.
Day 85 08/15/22
Today is our 11th straight day of riding and we are feeling it. Thankfully we woke up to partially cloudy skies and the will to ride. Slipping on our wet shoes and damp clothes we headed for the restrooms to get water and you know, other stuff. The first two miles were rudely placed hills with 9 to 10% grades. Today's ride proved to be mostly hilly which our legs were refusing to accept. They didn't have a choice. My head wasn't feeling the best which required a little Excedrine. We stopped in a McDonald's in Barnsville and grabbed a bite to eat. God only knows what they put in that food. A few short miles later we came to an intersection in a very small town where we had to turn. I like to time the traffic so that we don't have to unclip our feet from the pedals. It really requires balance and traffic to all cooperate in perfect harmony. It just so happened that the intersection came to a tee and a car pulls up on our left and both directions of cross traffic presented cars where seconds earlier there were none. It was almost like a bad cartoon. We rolled up expecting to turn but ran out of inertia and suddenly we were suspended by nothing but air and we were unable to unclip our feet while falling over. There we were laying on the pavement in full view of an audience. After assessing our damaged pride we both broke out in laughter. I'm sure the lady in the car right next to us thought we were a couple of wingnuts. Another mile down the road and we had another road closure sign.
It never fails to happen when we are close to the end of a ride. We stopped a car and the lady re told us that indeed it was closed. She offered to take a look for us but we didn't want to trouble her. As we were searching for an alternate route we flagged down another car that didn't seem to want to stop and passed us by. He put it in reverse and rolled down his window and belted out an annoyed, "What?" I just about lost it. I was tired. I was not feeling the best. I was hungry. We had just ridden close to 50 miles and we were a little discouraged. But, this blessed soul got what he didn't deserve, if you know what I mean. He told us that there was a landslide and they were working on it. I asked him if he thought they would let us pass through and his answer was, "You will have to talk to the State" and he sped off. We decided to do just that. We rolled up on the work zone and they were more than happy to let us through. Thank God for good state employees. At last we were just about heading into Wheeling, West Virginia where we were staying at a church. Our map routed us onto what looked like an Interstate. Two lanes in both directions and a sign that probibits bicycles. We ride down the offramp as Sarah was busy voicing her very anxious but well founded thoughts. I stopped at the bottom to take it all in and look for a solution. There was no other way to go so we had to ride on. It started out with a wide shoulder that got narrower until it entered into a workzone and lane closure where we were left with slim exposure. I am no stranger to exposure when it comes to climbing mountains but this stuff comes at 65 miles an hour on four and eighteen wheels. We passed some workers who didn't seem happy to see us and we exited three miles later to see another day. We still had to cross over the Ohio river on the oldest suspension bridge in the United States.
It was on the bridge that we left Ohio and entered West Virginia. No welcome sign but that did not stop us from a photo and another small sense of accomplishment.
We made it to the church and Andy welcomed us in.
We set up our beds in one of the basement Sunday School rooms and had the whole place to ourselves. The shower was not operational so I hooked up a hose to the mop sink and we took old fashioned sponge baths.
Won't bore you with the rest but we are spending two days here to rejuvenate and prepare for the final push to DC.
Rode 61 miles today.
Day 86 08/16/22
We slept great last night but we woke up tired, nothing a good cup of coffee won't fix. There is a bakery called, Bite Me Bakery within a short walking distance of the church. We had some great pastries and coffee but we wanted a second cup which led us right out the door to another coffee shop a block away. This time we ordered a spinach and cheese wrap and two coffees. It was a wonderful breakfast snack. We got to talking to a couple of young guys about life, their past and future. It was sad to hear their stories of little to no parental guidance.
The youngest was sixteen and lives with his nineteen year old buddy and his mom. In spite of their situation we enjoyed our time with them and hopefully encouraged them. Back at the church Adam showed up soon followed by Dave one of the elders. They gave us a tour of the church building that was built is 1836. The craftsmanship is amazing with the stain glass windows and a full pipe organ pointing to the majesty of God.
In years past this building hosted a huge congregation but as of recent they now run around forty members. It is quite the facility for such a small congregation to maintain with very limited resources. Dave said there are eight more church buildings around town just like it that sit empty. It is sad to see the decline of the Gospel in America but I guess that leaves a lot of room for God to act. We talked so long it was time for lunch and we all went and got something to eat. After lunch I took my bike into the basement bike shop where they have a ministry of fixing old bikes and giving them away to the community for free.
It was there that I tuned up my bike and gotter ready for the road ahead. We have been invited to eat dinner and attend their Bible study tonight. Then we are off to bed.
Day 87 08/17/22
Our time in Wheeling was sweet but too short. We rode a couple of blocks from the church onto the Wheeling /Heritage trail. Flat, paved and no traffic is a great way to start the morning. Within the first few miles we stopped to buy groceries for the next few days. Back on the trail we passed some locks and came to our first detour which was easy to navigate around some bridge construction and right back onto the trail.
It was here that we found a sign that marked the location where George Washington forged the river with his horses. It is hard to wrap your head around the fact that you are actually standing on the spot of such a well known historical figure.
Eventually we exited the Wheeling/Heritage trail and travelled a few surface streets to connect up with the The Panhandle Trail. This trail is another flat, paved, no traffic trail that winds its way through small towns and beautiful countryside. We did not find a coffee shop or bakery today to satisfy our caffein fix or bakery boost but we did cross over the border from West Virginia to Pennysylvania. Photo opportunity time and another milestone on our journey.
Saw a lot of deer today, a few groundhogs and a few humans. With all these great trails you would think more humans would be out enjoying them but they are rather scarce. Eventually we connected up with the Montour trail and called it a day in Hendersonville. We plan to spend the night here and get some Chinese food for dinner.
Rode 55 miles today.