Nov
11
2009
0

Quick Website Update

I have added the ability for you to read my posts in Chronological Order (from beginning to end). Just click on http://www.liveforthepath.com/?cat=4&order=asc to do so.

Thanks!
Kyle

Written by in: Uncategorized |
Aug
23
2009
0

Conclusion and F.A.Q.

Well, it has now been exactly a month since I got home (I arrived in Cockeysville on Sat, July 25th – it is now Sunday August 23rd as I write this). I have gotten a range of questions, so I will answer them in categories below.

What was the best part?/What was your favorite city/state/moment?/What moment will you remember?

This is far and away the #1 question I get. Pretty much every single person has asked me this question in some form or another. And I have done an okay job at not answering it, but under heavy stress I have cracked once or twice and made something up just to get people off my back.

Truth is, there is no way I can answer this. None at all. I mean, I am going to remember the two weeks I spent on the California Coast just as well as I am going to remember the two days I spent in (not on) the C&O Canal (Trail). I am going to remember the amazing landscapes between Carson City and Delta just as much as I am going to remember riding through the rough areas of Los Angeles. I am going to remember the strangers who went out of their way to show me kindness as well as the people who went out of their way to tell me that I wouldn’t make it.

My blog is called Live For The Path, and I would like to think that despite complaining about schedule and the such a little too much I have done that. But the most truthful answer I can give to that question is to say that my favorite part of the trip was finishing it. Not because I was happy to be home, or was tired of riding. To the contrary, I miss being on the bike out in the world every single day. I am just happy to have proved that I could ride a bicycle 4300 miles in two months with absolutely no training. I am happy to have made it, to have capped a journey that will stay with me forever. I am happy for the memories. I am happy the trip occurred, and I am happy that I went through everything I went through, even if I wouldn’t do it again, at least not for a very long time.

Wait. Is this your last time on a bike? What is next?

Well, I can say that in the month I have been home I have not been on a bike a single time. But it is certainly not the last time for me on a bike, either as a commuter or a tourer. What I meant above is that I have no desire to ride across America again (although I didn’t really ride across it – you will notice if you look at my shirts I only claimed the more vague ‘ride around America’). I think it could be a likely story that in 20 or 30 years I will want to do a anniversary tour across the country, but certainly not before then.

But, that does not mean that there are not other places that I want to go. It is just that most of the allure of touring to me is the adventure, so to go somewhere I have already been doesn’t really get me excited. But I do have some ideas of other tours I want to do.

Vancouver to San Francisco – This will likely be my next tour. Probably a short little two weeker, hopefully in a few years. I really feel that I missed something by turning east in San Francisco, although I am glad I did it. This will allow me the chance to tour (if only briefly) in another country, as well as see a part of the country that I have never seen.

The Far Northeast – Another tour I would like to do in another part of the country that I have never been. Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont are supposed to be absolutely beautiful, but I have never been. You could tour through in a little bit of Canada as well on this trip.

The British Isles – Another place with fantastic history and natural beauty that I have never been to and would love to tour. Particularly Scotland, Ireland, and Northern England.

SE Asia – Finally, a staple of bike touring, since you get the benefits of touring in the third world (cheap prices) without some of the drawbacks (crime, shitty roads). And this would definitely quench my thirst for excitement.

What is going on with your weight? What was it like on the bike?

It is strange, but this is probably the third most common thing I am asked about behind ‘What was your favorite part?’ and ‘What now?’. First and foremost, I have gained back a little over 15 pounds already, though it has really only been like five in the last few weeks (I gained 12 pounds in my first two weeks). But that isn’t a problem, I was a little emaciated looking upon arrival (I lost 30 pounds total during the trip). There was a point when I weighed myself in Ohio, and if I wasn’t within a week of being home, I would have had to seriously consider whether or not it would have been healthy to continue.

I thought it would be easier for me to keep weight on than it was. I thought I would lose a bunch off the bat, and then hit a point when I got into rhythm where I stayed just about the same. It didn’t happen – I lost around 4 pounds a week pretty consistently, meaning I was running around a 2000 calorie deficit every day. It turns out that it is really really hard to eat 7500 calories a day, particularly when you are traveling. I invite you to try to do it for one day, under ideal conditions (i.e. not on the road). Then try doing it every day for two months. It is almost impossible.

Do you have any suggestions for someone who wants to tour?

Yes I do – just do it! I wouldn’t worry too much about things like fitness or money. On the fitness point – I did not really train at all except for a single 75 mile training ride in January. I rode my bike to school every day, which cannot be more than a 5 mile round trip. That is it. Look, bike touring is more about mental toughness than anything else. If you actually want to do it, and aren’t the type of person who quits and cries when things are tough, you will ride yourself into shape in no time. And on the money point – bike touring can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be. Plenty of people out there are touring across America on $5 and $10 a day. Just because I didn’t doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Plenty of people tour on their old mountain bikes with discount panniers.

So many people that I met on the tour looked at me and said that they really wish that they had done that when they were my age, ‘when they could have’. When I asked they why they couldn’t now they would always cite some combination of four things – money, fitness, job, family. I admit that taking two months off to ride 4300 miles isn’t something everyone can do, there is absolutely no reason that anyone cannot take a day off of work and go on a long weekend trip. Hell, just go on a Saturday and hop on your bike and ride the 30 miles to the next town and then ride back. Or ride in something like the Aids Ride in California or RAGBRAI in Iowa. I mean, the opportunities are out there for you to get on your bike and ride. The only reason that you aren’t is because you don’t actually want to. So don’t say that you do.

I will say that just going on a short tour is a life changing experience. From my fully loaded training ride I learned so much that stuck with me, and that was a short 75 miles, and I slept for four hours during that one day trip. If you go on a tour, it will change you.

So is this it for this blog?

I hope not. But for the time being it is. It looks very likely I will return to the 9-5 world for at least a few years, since I have credit cards and student loans to pay off. If you would like a more up to date story on my life, I will make more of an effort to keep kyleaskine.com up to date, but that has always been the redheaded stepchild of my blogs, so I make no promises.

But, in the long run, I think that I will be doing something else deserving of bringing this blog back – I hope so anyway. If you put your email address in the ‘subscribe to liveforthepath by email’ link to the right, you will automatically get notified if I start writing here again, and I promise not to sell your address to scammers or sign you up for the web-herpes. And if you continue to follow me on twitter or facebook I will try to make announcements of note in 140 characters or less though those periodically.

I again want to thank everyone who read the blog, and give special thanks to those who helped out on the trip. I hope you all do something fun from time to time for no other reason than you can, no matter how crazy people tell you it is. To my knowledge, you only live once, so be sure to have a little fun.

Thanks again,
Kyle Askine
August 23, 2009

Written by in: Everything |
Aug
21
2009
0

Day 63 – Monrovia, MD to Cockeysville, MD – Fin

53 miles in 4.33 hours – Max Speed 33.5mph

I got up later than expected the next day, probably because of the late night. I packed up all my stuff, ate a breakfast with the aunt and uncle, and thanked them again. I ended up leaving at around 10am, which is later than I had anticipated. But I was on no real schedule, so it didn’t really matter.

I headed back up the road and got back on route 144 to ascend and descend some more hills. This day turned out to be an extremely uneventful one on the bicycle, which I suppose is a good thing with it being my final day and all. The only somewhat amusing story that every bicyclist knows is that when I finally turned off the 144 and onto Marriottsville Road, it was almost entirely downhill. I knew that I had done nothing to deserve this downhill, and as the road kept going down, I got more and more uncomfortable. There is no worse feeling that when you keep on descending when you haven’t climbed anything to begin with. Sure enough, as soon as I turned onto the next road (Ward’s Chapel Road) it was uphill almost the entire length. But then again, this was no real problem, and I made it through without issues.

Once I reached Reisterstown the roads became a little busier, but it was nothing I hadn’t seen before. Once I got on Shawan Road and rode past Oregon Ridge Park, then I really, for the first time in my trip, felt like I was home.

So I realized a couple miles from home that I had not taken any pictures, so I figured that I should take at least one. Sorry for the lack of them though.

So I realized a couple miles from home that I had not taken any pictures, so I figured that I should take at least one. Sorry for the lack of them though.

I rode up to my mom’s house, dropped my bike outside, and walked in the front door. I went out back, hugged my mom, and sat down, feeling that I was finished for the first time all trip. My stepdad brought me a Natty Boh, and I sat outside for a few hours chatting with the mother. I eventually unpacked the bike, went upstairs, showered, and changed my clothes.

I was finished with one journey. It felt good to be home again, but there was one question in the back of my head that was growing louder with every passing moment at home. A question that I desperately did not want to confront.

What now?


View Larger Map

I will be back next week with a conclusion, some words about bike touring, an update on my life, and a quick FAQ. I want to thank everyone who read, and give special thanks to everyone who commented in the blogs or helped out in any way on the journey.

Kyle

Written by in: America,Everything |
Aug
20
2009
0

Day 62 – ZERO DAY

Waking up, I think the thing I appreciated most about taking this zero day is that I did not set my alarm for the first time in a long time, which meant I woke up several hours later than I normally did. I got to eat a big breakfast with the family, and then I lazed around all day. It is actually hard for me to remember what I did, but I know it definitely involved some surfing the internet, some guitar hero, and a few games. And a lot of eating. I definitely remember Ledo’s pizza, which makes any day better.

But the real purpose of the zero day was the Chelsea – A.C. Milan soccer match in downtown Baltimore. We left early to try to beat some traffic, and we got there a little before gametime. This was my first ride in an automobile since San Francisco, and the first time seeing my city since Winter Break. It felt good to be in Baltimore.

Baltimore

Baltimore

The match was actually very entertaining, and was competitive throughout. And it was nice seeing more of the family. Chelsea ended up winning by a goal, and everyone went home happy. We didn’t end up getting home until after midnight, which made it probably the latest night I had since San Francisco as well. But this rest day was amazing thanks to seeing friendly faces and doing no work. I was a little nervous and excited simultaneously about my trip ending tomorrow though.

Footie

Footie

Chase the ball!

Chase the ball!

Written by in: America,Everything |
Aug
19
2009
0

Day 61 – Mile 158 of the C&O to Monrovia, MD – Made It

98 miles in 9.33 hours – Max Speed 33.5mph

As the sun was rising I was busy packing up my campsite, eager to set out on my second to last real day on the bike, and last day before seeing my family. Problem was I was still around 35 miles out of Hancock, MD, which was the first real town of the day. Knowing the condition of the trail, I knew this meant probably 4 hours before eating my first meal of the day, but it had to be done, so I set out.

I camped probably only a half mile from this, another halfmile long tunnel. This one was extra exciting because it was narrow, unlit, bumpy, and you could fall into some disgusting water if you went too far left. Have I mentioned how shitty the C&O canal is?

I camped probably only a half mile from this, another halfmile long tunnel. This one was extra exciting because it was narrow, unlit, bumpy, and you could fall into some disgusting water if you went too far left. Have I mentioned how shitty the C&O canal is?

This guy looked much less fierce than the guy I passed yesterday on the GAP.

This guy looked much less fierce than the guy I passed yesterday on the GAP.

The C&O trail was still in bad shape, but it was somewhat improved from the previous night. That being said the going was still slow. I churned out the miles though, and ate all of my snacks that I had left and drank my remaining potable water. There were occasional water pumps on the side of the trail, but only about half of them worked, and only about half of those put out water that I would consider drinking. And I filled up one water bottle the previous night with water that eventually turned clear after enough pumping, and by this morning my entire bottle was iron red on the inside, and the water was as well. Brilliant.

Historical Marker

Historical Marker

Part of the mill, as well as a surprisingly dry portion of the C&O canal trail. If any of you are entry level engineers, here is a little pointer for you. If all you do to build a trail is dig a two inch deep trough into some land, when it rains your trail may just end up filling up with water. Just saying.

Part of the mill, as well as a surprisingly dry portion of the C&O canal trail. If any of you are entry level engineers, here is a little pointer for you. If all you do to build a trail is dig a two inch deep trough into some land, when it rains your trail may just end up filling up with water. Just saying.

More of the mill. Oh, did I mention I almost got ran over by a honey wagon on the C&O canal trail too. Yup, turns out they drive right down it, splashing mud and water everywhere (and it is particularly gross to be splashed with mud from a honey wagon). Thanks.

More of the mill. Oh, did I mention I almost got ran over by a honey wagon on the C&O canal trail too. Yup, turns out they drive right down it, splashing mud and water everywhere (and it is particularly gross to be splashed with mud from a honey wagon). Thanks.

Anyway, I managed to make it to Hancock without succumbing to hunger or heavy metal poisoning, where I promptly went to Hardee’s and had my fill of burgers and iced tea. I took some pictures of my bike while I was there.

I had to stop and clean chunks of mud out of my fenders twice on the trail because they were rubbing the wheels. And I didn't dare to change gears. And I had to drink out of those lovely water bottles.

I had to stop and clean chunks of mud out of my fenders twice on the trail because they were rubbing the wheels. And I didn't dare to change gears. And I had to drink out of those lovely water bottles.

Oh yeah, and I hope you don't have to brake, for whatever reason.

Oh yeah, and I hope you don't have to brake, for whatever reason.

Anyway, riding up into town from the C&O trail, I noticed another trail, called the Western Maryland Rail Trail. I looked online for information on it, because at this point I hated the C&O with a passion. It turns out it only runs 20 miles, but it was actually paved! It was the nicest bike path of the trip so far. I took it to a turnoff where I could get on Route 40/144, which would take me pretty much all the way home.

The problem with bailing off of the C&O trail early is that there are three mountain ranges between where Route 40 begins and Frederick, MD. The longer I stay on the C&O, the more of these I miss. But at that point I was so fed up with the C&O trail that I said screw it and decided to contend with the mountains instead.

I started down 40, and quickly it turned into a beautiful road with six foot shoulders, which is very rare on non-freeways. This was really a great treat for bicyclers. The only problem is that I had to contend with thunderstorms, and it was looking threatening. However, I managed to make it most of the way to Frederick without being rained on. The mountains were as I feared though, particularly the two ranges between Hagerstown and Frederick. I felt like I was climbing forever on them, which I chalked up to relatively flat ground for the last 2000 miles, but once I reached the top of the final range, I had an amazing decent into the city of Frederick. Apparently they are pretty big, or so that decent told me.

George Washington wuz here.

George Washington wuz here.

I passed another trail, but this one was not for bikes.

I passed another trail, but this one was not for bikes.

For the benefit of possible tourers looking at this, the other problem with route 40/144 is that the roads become very narrow in the cities of Hagerstown and Frederick. I found myself on a few sidewalks and secondary roads through these towns. Route 144 also goes through the rough part of Frederick.

Once I reached Frederick, I called my family in Monrovia, just 10 miles away, and told them to expect me in an hour. I hung up, excited for a shower and a home cooked meal. I went out to the first light back on route 144, and during the time I sat there the weather went from just being overcast, to a light drizzle, to an absolute downpour. I was going to take shelter in the next gas station, but it was too late by the time the light turned green, as I was already soaked. So I soldiered on.

This was definitely the most wet I got the entire trip, as it poured for the next half hour. But it actually felt pretty good since I knew that I was almost home and that a hot shower awaited me. I turned off the 144 onto the 75, nearly got run over a half mile from my aunt and uncle’s houses on the final uphill of the day (4300 miles and the cars still don’t learn… there are roads where two cars and a bike all cannot fit next to each other… wait literally 2 seconds and then pass me, jerks), and then made it to see them standing out in their yard with a camcorder and signs, which was moderately embarrassing.

I relaxed for the rest of the night, looking forward to my first rest day since San Francisco tomorrow.


View Larger Map

Note: this map is only for the roads I took, not the bike trails

Written by in: America,Everything |
Aug
18
2009
0

Day 60 – Connellsville, PA to Mile 158 of the C&O Canal, MD – My Biggest Day

126 miles in 11.67 hours – Max Speed 22mph

When I woke up the next day I made the proclamation on my Twitter and Facebook feed that I knew that the only way I would make it to Monrovia by tomorrow was that I needed to do a 125 mile day today. So the heat was on, since that would be my biggest day of the trip by a pretty fair margin. Suffice it to say I was awake with the dawn.

Good morning from the Yough River!

Good morning from the Yough River!

I started out down the path, but quickly ran into some issues. It appears that the thunderstorm that I was in yesterday must have been just as intense down here because there were two or three places where whole trees were down across the bike path. So it always took a little bit of time to navigate those spots.

Getting closer to home.

Getting closer to home.

Riding through the canopies.

Riding through the canopies.

D'oh!

D'oh!

After that it was a very smooth trip on the GAP. I just got into a rhythm, and other than stopping for breakfast and lunch, really just banged out the miles early in the day. Before I knew it I was at a mile long stretch with three exciting moments all together. The Eastern Continental Divide, the Big Savage Tunnel, and the Mason Dixon Line. The Eastern Continental Divide meant I got a pretty nice downhill for the next 25 miles, the Big Savage Tunnel is the most impressive engineering feat on the trail, and the Mason Dixon Line meant I was finally in my home state of Maryland. Awesome.

View from yet another bridge.

View from yet another bridge.

The river is fun.

The river is fun.

Hah. I had no cellular signal today between Connellsville and Cumberland.

Hah. I had no cellular signal today between Connellsville and Cumberland.

The view from yet another bridge.

The view from yet another bridge.

The only old tunnel on the trail that we didn't get to ride through.

The only old tunnel on the trail that we didn't get to ride through.

A half-mile long bridge through the sky. I really have to say if you have an appreciation for engineering, the GAP is an amazing trail to ride on.

A half-mile long bridge through the sky. I really have to say if you have an appreciation for engineering, the GAP is an amazing trail to ride on.

On another old railroad bridge.

On another old railroad bridge.

Excellent

Excellent

Mural

Mural

An elevation profile of my day. Note, I actually started around 5 miles outside of Connellsville proper. I enjoyed this when I saw it.

An elevation profile of my day. Note, I actually started around 5 miles outside of Connellsville proper. I enjoyed this when I saw it.

Another mural

Another mural

And that is a half mile of tunnel. Pretty cool. There is actually another tunnel that you take with no lights in it, and I didn't feel like digging mine out, so I just rode towards the light on the other side... it was a really crazy experience. It feels like you are on acid and pedalling and not moving. Really crazy.

And that is a half mile of tunnel. Pretty cool. There is actually another tunnel that you take with no lights in it, and I didn't feel like digging mine out, so I just rode towards the light on the other side... it was a really crazy experience. It feels like you are on acid and pedalling and not moving. Really crazy.

And that is the Maryland Countryside. Note: I didn't take a picture of the Mason Dixon line. I have no idea why not. I am an idiot.

And that is the Maryland Countryside. Note: I didn't take a picture of the Mason Dixon line. I have no idea why not. I am an idiot.

Why hello there. I gave this guy some distance.

Why hello there. I gave this guy some distance.

I cruise down the hill on the other side of the continental divide at 16 mph for the next 25 miles, and although the clouds looked extremely threatening, they held out for a while before they absolutely dumped on me. But like yesterday, it was so severe that it only lasted for a few minutes. Although there was a little bit more sleet/hail in there, which I have to say was not very pleasant.

Anyway, like I said it stopped pretty quickly, and I made it to Cumberland, MD not long after that. I stopped in town and took a quick walk around, since it was only 5:00 and I had already done just under 100 miles for the day. I rode down to the downtown district (Baltimore Street) and ate dinner at a great cafe. I then hopped back on the bike and got to the C&O canal.

The C&O canal turned out to be a totally different beast than the GAP. Most obviously, instead of being a packed gravel, as most bike paths are, it was instead packed dirt. Which unfortunately meant that is was a sloppy, disgusting, almost unrideable mess. The good thing though, is that every five miles or so there are free hiker/biker campgrounds for people using the path. But the path really was in abysmal shape, and the going on it was very, very slow.

This upset me for a number of reasons, but mainly because I know a lot of people actually do the Pittsburgh to DC bike trip as a vacation, and they usually do it in that order. So they get spoiled by the nice shape of the YRT, and then they get to the C&O trail and it is apparently awful if it has rained recently (though in it’s defense, it had rained A LOT in the few days leading up to my arrival). It makes the state of Maryland look bad in my opinion. I think you need a Mountain Bike with fenders to really be able to appreciate this trail.

Well that water looks delicious.

Well that water looks delicious.

Anyway, I got going, wanting to knock out some miles tonight before it got dark. Even though I wasn’t breaking any speed records I was chugging along quite slowly. The problem is it was so overgrown with trees, it started to become very dark quite early, so I had to stop a bit earlier than I would have liked. I just got set up in a hiker/biker spot and went to sleep (no showers and gross running water at these places). But I knew that I had my 125 miles and Monrovia by dinner time tomorrow was in fact achievable.

Written by in: America,Everything |
Aug
17
2009
0

Day 59 – Bridgeville, PA to Connellsville, PA – Late Start

72 miles in 7.33 hours – Max Speed 34mph

I got up early in the morning and went downstairs to partake in first breakfast. Then I went back upstairs and finished the website for the next week, so I wouldn’t have anything to worry about when I first got home, and I knew that there would be nothingness in between Pittsburgh and Baltimore. I went down and grabbed another breakfast right before it closed, and then began looking a little harder at my route.

The previous night I put in my current location and almost final destination of Monrovia, MD, and I saw it was 225 miles, which I was very comfortable with doing over three days. But I looked more into it today and saw that the GAP trail (Great Allegheny Passage) was 112 miles, and I would be on the C&O trail for around 90 miles, and it would take me around 30 miles to get to the GAP trail today and it was like 45 or 50 miles to get to Monrovia from the C&O, so something had gone horribly wrong in my calculations. Upon deeper examination it was that I was following rivers the entire way on the trails, and it turns out that they are not really the straightest things in the world, so that was going to add around 70 miles to my trip. Great.

So I hustle up and get out of the hotel at like 10:30, and try to eat some miles up today, though I knew it wouldn’t be very many with the late start. I ride back up and down some large hills to get back to the Montour Trail in Hendersonville, and I head along that for a while.

It is a nice trail for a little while, but then I just hit a dead end. Uh… okay. I am certainly not in McKeesport, so I am a little confused and I don’t know what to do. I go back around a mile and talk to someone else on the trail, and they say that the Montour Trail isn’t actually finished so there are large gaps in it. Okay, so I open up my cell phone, and luckily, on the Montour Trail’s website it has directions on how to navigate these gaps. But there is absolutely no signage at all on the trail, so if I didn’t have a data plan I don’t know what I would have done. I have no idea why they don’t put signs up. This brought this trail way down in my eyes since you need an internet connection to use it and half of it was on roads anyway.

Old bridge and Tunnel on the Montour trail.

Old bridge and Tunnel on the Montour trail.

Historical Marker

Historical Marker

Happy Birthday X1 indeed.

Happy Birthday X1 indeed.

The Montour Trail. The GAP looked very similar as well.

The Montour Trail. The GAP looked very similar as well.

Don't think that building is in operation anymore.

Don't think that building is in operation anymore.

Anyway, I end up getting to McKeesport, where the GAP starts, but as I get there it is really looking horrible outside. I get hit with a few raindrops that are humongous, so I figure that is a sign to take shelter. I hop into a dollar store and put my bike under a small canopy, and then it starts to pour.

After I stopped the video it actually hailed for a few minutes too. This was an intense storm, but like most storms like that, it only lasted ten minutes or so. I left and headed back out and down to the trail.

The first few miles of the trail are somewhat crappy and were filled with water and stuff, but by the time you reach Boston, PA the trail is in very good condition. The rest of the day is pretty much full of riding on this trail through small towns on the Youghiogheny River (Yough). This was nice though because almost every tiny town had tons of services for bikers (bicycle shops, little restaurants on the trail, etc.).

Nice waterfall on the GAP (also called the Yough River Trail, or YRT).

Nice waterfall on the GAP (also called the Yough River Trail, or YRT).

Ew. Not such a nice waterfall.

Ew. Not such a nice waterfall.

Yup, that is why that waterfall is so gross.

Yup, that is why that waterfall is so gross.

I will pretty much always stop at anything where you pay on thhe honor system and buy something. Don't know why.

I will pretty much always stop at anything where you pay on thhe honor system and buy something. Don't know why.

Historical Marker

Historical Marker

As I reached the town of Connellsville I noticed a campground on the right situated right on the river. It had a huge sign out welcoming bikers as well, so I went and stopped in there. Problem was the office was closed, since it was like 7:30 then. I stood around pondering for a little when a guy in a pickup truck drove by and told me to just yell up to the deck around back and someone would come down. Uh, okay, so I did. Sure enough people up there said hi and told me to meet them back at the entrance. I got a campsite for $10, and went and got set up. I did laundry for the final time, and took a shower, also for the final time on the trip. I went to bed knowing that I still had a huge amount of ground to cover in the next two days.

Written by in: America,Everything |
Aug
14
2009
1

Day 58 – New Philadelphia, OH to Bridgeville, PA – A Day with many Hurdles

102 miles in 10.5 hours – Max Speed 34 mph

A sign in New Philadelphia, where they seem friendlier than regular Philadelphia (note: I actually really like Philly)

A sign in New Philadelphia, where they seem friendlier than regular Philadelphia (note: I actually really like Philly)

I started out today knowing that it was likely to be my final day on roads until I was almost home. I don’t know how I felt about this, since I really don’t mind road riding (most people I talk to seem to think that would be the worst part), and I know that most people on bike paths are idiots. But I think that I was excited for the change.

Anyway, the paths were still a ways away, so it was time for me to head out. I went out east and headed on some quiet back roads for a while. Then, all of a sudden, my back tube blew out. Damn, it was my last slime tube (not actually slime, some tube specialized makes, with a slime like substance in it) and I only had one regular tube left. I mean, I have patched some old ones, but I don’t trust them very much. Anyway, I put my last tube in and prayed I would make it to the next town with a bike shop.

I loved the name of this company.

I loved the name of this company.

I got back on the road and went through some small towns with no services, which was unfortunate because I was rather hungry. Finally I reached Bowerston, which had a single cafe open. But it may have been the cheapest of the entire trip, and it was also quite delicious. I talked to the waitress for a while in there about biking. She had recently decided to go back to nursing school too, so I congratulated her on that, especially since my sister is just entering nursing school. I then got to take a rail-trail to the town of Jewett, which was excellent.

A nice, empty, bike path

A nice, empty, bike path

Ohio Countryside

Ohio Countryside

Fox!

Fox!

Historical Marker

Historical Marker

After that it was around 30 miles on more brutal hills until I reached the town of Steubenville, which is the end of Ohio. It is a fairly large town, so I looked in my phone for bicycle shops. I saw one in Weirton, across the Ohio in West Virginia, so I tried calling them, but got number disconnected. I went to grab some food so I could think about this. At McDonald’s I realized that I should search for sporting goods stores, and saw there was a Dick’s in Steubenville, so I went there and bought a few tubes. With that out of the way I came to the next issue.

NOOOOOOOOOO

NOOOOOOOOOO

Wow. Wow. You win the worst company name of the trip award.

Wow. Wow. You win the worst company name of the trip award.

Downtown Steubenville. You can see the bridge I took in the background.

Downtown Steubenville. You can see the bridge I took in the background.

There are three bridges across the Ohio River in Steubenville, but one was closed. Another one was on a freeway which was closed to bicycles. That left one last bridge, but on the other side of that was a freeway you had to get on. Hmm. I asked around, but no one could really help me out. I decided to take the bridge that I knew I could legally take, and deal with the consequences on the other side. I made it across the bridge, and darted the two miles into the town of Weirton without incident. But, I don’t have a picture of that state crossing, since stopping and taking pictures when you are somewhere illegally is probably not the best idea.

Once in Weirton I shot through town and made it to the first major trail of the network home, the Panhandle Trail.

I can ride my bike with no handlebars... with no handlebars...

I can ride my bike with no handlebars... with no handlebars...

Woot!

Woot!

This was an excellent trail with very little foot traffic. Unfortunately the gods saw to it that it wasn’t totally smooth, as they opened up the skies for a several hour drenching rain. Oh well. I had a goal in mind for the day, as there was a Holiday Inn Express just Southwest of Pittsburgh in a town called Bridgeville, which didn’t look too far off the trails. Remember back to Utah and Wyoming, that I had acquired a free night at a Holiday Inn, and I was ready to use it, particularly since I was soaked.

My last photo before the deluge. Pennsylvania state line!

My last photo before the deluge. Pennsylvania state line!

I made it to the where I wanted to get off the trail, and then the real fun started. First it was still raining, and the roads had a lot of traffic, and it was twilight, which is a really bad combination. But I made it through the traffic, and to where I needed to turn. Problem is, the one road I could have taken was actually a freeway and was signed for no bikes, and the other road was closed for repairs. I ended up taking some ridiculous back route up and over a freaking mountain (Pittsburgh seems like an extremely hilly city, at least the burbs). I eventually made it though, checked in, ate, and went to sleep.


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Note: This only goes to Weirton because I took the bike trail to Pittsburgh. I will not have another map up until the last two days because the remainder of the time are spent on the Panhandle, Montour, Great Allegany Passage, C&O Rail, and Western Maryland Rail Trails.

Written by in: America,Everything |
Aug
13
2009
0

Day 57 – Butler, OH to New Philadelphia, OH – A Cheap Motel

59 miles in 5.83 hours – Max Speed 38mph

As I got up in the morning I knew that I would have a big decision to make today. I could try to do a big day, which would likely put me three more days away from my uncle’s house (four including today), or I could take it slow and have an easy four day ride back instead. I didn’t know which I would pick, so I set out early to keep my options open.

Quickly I realized that traffic was going to be horrible today too, because it was a Sunday. I got to Loudonville, and realized that it is a vacation and camping destination for many of the people in the area. It stinks when you are somewhere on a Sunday, and realize that it is probably the worst day for traffic there, since in 99% of places there will be little to no traffic on Sunday.

Historical Marker

Historical Marker

A pretty cool sign.

A pretty cool sign.

I ate and moved on through Amish Country, Ohio. While I also biked through Amish Country, Iowa, I didn’t really see any Mennonites around, but today in Ohio I rode past scores of them. It was pretty cool to see, and they always waved back and smiled when I waved at them. I even saw an Amish guy on a bicycle going the other way, which was exciting.

What about bikes!?

What about bikes!?

Horse parking.

Horse parking.

Other that that, nothing really exciting happened today. There were more hills, but after 1200 miles of flat lands, I wasn’t upset that they were there. It makes biking less monotonous, and my only real complaint about them is that they slow you down. But then again, my website is called Live for the Path, so perhaps I already complain too much about speed.

This town had a mammoth hill at the end of it. Yes sir.

This town had a mammoth hill at the end of it. Yes sir.

It has taken me 1000 miles to get, but finally, an unobstructed shot of a courthouse.

It has taken me 1000 miles to get, but finally, an unobstructed shot of a courthouse.

That sign gives me the jeebies.

That sign gives me the jeebies.

Little known fact: my birthday is on National Chili Dog day. Just sayin.

Little known fact: my birthday is on National Chili Dog day. Just sayin.

Anyway, as I approached Dover and New Philadelphia (which really means as I approached an interstate, which really means as I approached a cell signal) I pulled out my cell phone and began looking for cheap motels, just out of curiosity. I saw there was a Motel 6 in New Philadelphia, and not only that, but it was $29.95, which is cheaper than I paid for my camp spot the night before. I decided to make it an early day to work on my website, launder, and shower. After doing that, and making a trip to Wal-Mart and to a place to grab dinner, I went to bed.


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Written by in: America,Everything |
Aug
12
2009
0

Day 56 – Lima, OH to Butler, OH – An Expensive Campground

109 miles in 8.75 hours – Max Speed 37.5mph

You guys probably know the drill by now… I got up, did twenty miles, and then stopped to get breakfast in the town of Ada. While I was there I saw that I had rejoined the Lincoln Highway yet again. But I knew that after today that would be the end of my time on it because it went more north, towards New York, while I went mostly east and a little south.

The Lincoln Highway makes its triumphant return. The town (Ada) looks like every other small town in Ohio.

The Lincoln Highway makes its triumphant return. The town (Ada) looks like every other small town in Ohio.

My favorite website!

My favorite website!

I went through some more cities today, which was nice to see. Upper Sandusky and Bucyrus were both reasonably sized… probably as big as most anything I saw in the stretch from Sacramento to Lincoln. It kept me happy to know that I was getting closer to the east coast. Other than that there wasn’t anything special to really write about, just one of those days where you put your head down and get through the miles.

Oooh, a spot where the Highway Splits.

Oooh, a spot where the Highway Splits.

Historical Marker - Front

Historical Marker - Front

Historical Marker - Rear

Historical Marker - Rear

Despite there being more cities, it was still mostly farmland.

Despite there being more cities, it was still mostly farmland.

What? This road doesn't go West also?

What? This road doesn't go West also?

State Slogan - Ohio: Birthplace of Harding

State Slogan - Ohio: Birthplace of Harding

As the day wore on traffic became heavier and heavier. Once I passed Lexington the road was full of traffic pretty much nonstop going both ways. This was surprising, as well as not optimal, since it was a Saturday. Luckily as soon as I passed I-71 a bike path appeared next to the road, which I took into the town of Butler.

This saved my bacon.

This saved my bacon.

When I reached Butler it was around 6:00, and I had checked my cell phone next to the highway so I knew that there was supposedly an RV Park in town, but I couldn’t find it for the life of me. I did not have signal, so I couldn’t look further into it, so I ate dinner and carried on towards Loudonville (I pretty much didn’t have signal throughout the entire state of Ohio, which was really strange considering how much more populated it was than any state I had been in since California). But as soon as I left town, it was like POW! Hills started, proper hills that required use of my granny gear. And they never give you a moment to rest, it was always either up or down. I guess that meant that I was getting closer to the Appalachians, which was good, but traffic was still really heavy, and going uphill in the granny + traffic is not a good combo.

Anyway, as I was going along I saw a sign for a KOA two miles down a side road that I was totally not expecting. I petaled down the side road and after some nasty hills reached the campground. When I got there the family that ran it came out to see me before I could even go inside. We had a really nice talk because the man of the family had apparently done a tour back in the 70’s. We talked for around 15 minutes, and then she told me the price for a tent spot. $32. Holy crap. That works out to $1000 a month for the right to put your tent on a crappy 10×20 piece of grass with a picnic table and fire pit.

I considered turning around and just stealthing somewhere, but the lady was nice and I didn’t really want to make a scene or anything, so I paid and took the site. I got set up and then went down to the pavilion to get on the internet and charge my phone. Eventually the father came down and we talked about bike touring for around an hour, and they brought me a glass of wine. This made me feel better about the decision, but $32 is still an awful lot for a campsite.

A movie was supposed to start at 9:00pm so at that time I went back up to the tent, and then showered and went to sleep.


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Written by in: America,Everything |

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