Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Week Three

Pittsburgh...West Virginia 2 days, Ohio 3 days to Cincinnati

415 miles...9,360 feet climb
1,365 miles total...56,230 feet climb total
Proceed as the way opens. (River Horse by William Least-Heat Moon

It becomes quite obvious that the Alleghenies have passed upon leaving Pittsburgh and riding along the Ohio River. Once crossing into Ohio the landscape becomes that ancient sea bed, nearly flat. Riding into Cincinnati over 98 miles only accumulated 910 feet of climb mostly along the Ohio to Erie Bike Trail that joins with four others at the restored train depot of Xenia, Ohio. Xenia is a bike trail hub unequaled to date...great bike signage too.

Sign of progress
I remain amazed by the beauty and convenience of bike trails available.

Leaving Pennsylvania
Little Muddy headed to Big Muddy
As seen from bike trail...find Blackie (hint-he came back damp)

A note out of chronological sequence...I write this two days after leaving Cincinnati. Today was the hottest day of the ride at 90 degrees and 74% humidity. It took a lot out of me...though riding nearly 90 miles didn't help. Tonight I took the easy route and went with accommodation option #7.

Places to Stay...There are many resources for the self-contained bicyclist evening accommodations.

  1. The least expensive...stealth camping. Find someplace off the road that is discreet. You know you have succeeded when the night-passing teenager boys do not blow their car horn to disturb your sleep. This was difficult to do in endless corn field Ohio. But late in the evening I spotted a group of trees that marked a small home site where the building had long since been removed. My tent cuddled nicely below the boughs of an evergreen tree. I don't like to knock on someone's door to ask so don't camp on obviously private property. The owner or neighbor may not appreciate your forwardness.
  2. Find a church, community park, or other quasi-public area that has space for your tent, maybe even a shower. Find someone to ask if they think it would be alright so you won't have to deal with the late night police rounds.
  3. Ask local police or fire department where to camp. You will be meeting the police eventually anyway, might as well do so up front rather than be awakened during the night. "What do you think you're doing?!" In McMechan, I just about passed by the fire hall with the police cruiser out front. I forced myself to turn about and ride up to the police officer and said, "You're the person I need to talk to." The officer thought along with the fireman if there were any camping spaces in their very small town. Then the fireman recognized that the fire department owned the land with a community pavilion across the street that had a grass area perfect for my tent. I even got an official MFD fire fighter sleeve patch as a gift. However, even before I could unload any gear, local volunteer EMS ambulance driver Roger came over to announce his in-the-process-of-renovation home was nearby with welcoming shower and bed. I accepted!
  4. Be Invited home by strangers. Hasn't happened to me yet, at least at the appropriate late afternoon time frame. It must help to be a foreigner. The Aussie trans-world bicyclist I met has been invited home three times during the past four weeks...all in Ohio.
  5. A great concept. I have been successful only once so far. Contacted hosts so far have been out of town or have a schedule conflict.
  6. State Park Campgrounds. Sometimes free. Usually low cost if there is a fee. Ask if any primitive or hike-bike sites are available.
  7. Private Campgrounds such as KOA. This may cost $35 per night, but they have air conditioning in some buildings and perhaps a communal kitchen facility.
  8. Motels, B&B, etc. choose the run down motels and sometimes they may be about the same cost as a higher end campground, but most often between $50 to $65 per night. Breakfast may be included, so this can frequently be comparable to a campground and diner breakfast cost.
  9. If all else fails...hope it's a full moon and ride through the night.
More McMechan...Roger moved out of McMechan when his first job at Marks Toys (maker of Big Wheel), made him enough money at the age of 19 to buy a car. He has lived since in NYC, London, Paris, and others. He has a kind, caring heart, taking in two dogs that were abandoned by others...a black Lab mix and a Pit Bull. The fire department has asked that he not bring the Pit to the fire department any more. I believe I know wants to eat humans. It wanted me for dinner so Roger had to keep the Pit detained in the kitchen. I remembered this when I went to get a glass of water and before opening the door was met with the devil's legion tearing at the door. I went to bed thirsty. The next morning I had to enter sleeping Roger's room to get to the toilet. Sleeping Pit was on same bed. My immediate needs overcame the vision of light sleeping dogs and what the outcome might portend if Pit sensed a stranger. Making it by once was sheer luck...but I did so again on the return with bated breath.

Roger kindly offered to lead me out of town on a to-be-extended bike trail. We walked around the golf driving range thankful for our helmets, through the morning dew-saturated field, thrashing through the overgrown growth till we found the remnants of an old rail track. This trail was to keep me off a section of highway that narrowed and Roger felt was Robbie didn't want to take the optional road UP the adjacent mountain though roger really liked the descent on the other side. The track was very heavily overgrown and slippery with wet clay from all the recent rains. Roger led me on this two mile section of unbikeable bike trail to hell vs the mountain climb vs the highway narrows and instant death...instant death after thrashing about the overbearing growth, loosing footing and frolicking in the clay pits, wondering what to do about the bleeding scraps from aggressive branches was not a bad option. Eventually the track cleared and joined a real bike trail that took us to Moundsville and breakfast at Bob' Place.

Ancient River Cultures...I visited Grave Creek Mound in Moundsville...first settled 3000 years ago at time of King David...mound constructed circa 200 BCE by Adena peoples who later merged with Hopewell culture by 200 CE...60 feet tall 295 feet diameter.

Adena mound
Hopewell Culture National Historic Park in Chillicothe was next. These mound builders were once represented by thousands of mounds anchored by the eastern rivers and specifically in central Ohio. Their mound complexses show no signs of humans residing within the boundaries. With no written language, there is no record of what the significance of these centers were. Mounds ceased in importance around 500 CE that coincides with the introduction of maize to the eastern tribes. Did this lead to a different societal organization?

Hopewell mounds
The square shape is the same enclosure as above


For the bike traveler...

  • Pittsburgh crossing the river from Sewickly, Montour Bike Trail, Panhandle Bike Trail, enter West Virginia, Colliers, Follansbee, Ohio River, Highway 2, Wellsburg, Rail-Trail, Wheeling, McMechan
  • McMechan, Glen Dale to Moundsville Rail Trail, Grave Creek Mound Archeology Site, cross Ohio River enter Ohio, Highway 7, Marietta
  • Marietta, Highway 7, Belpre, Appalachian Highway 50, Hockhocking-Adena Bike Trail, Athens, W. Union Street, New Marshfield, Mineral Road, Biddyville Road, Mineral, Moonville Rail-Trail (not ready for use), Rockcamp Road (King Hollow Trail Road), Zaleski State Forest, Lake Hope SP (would be nice to stay), McArthur, Londonberry, Chillicothe
  • Chillicothe, Hopewell Culture National Historic Park, Tri-County Triangle Bike Trail, Frankfort, Washington Court House, Old US 35, Jamestown, Xenia (bike trail hub town), Ohio-to-Erie Bike Trail, Spring Valley, Little Miami River Scenic Bike Trail, Orgenia, Morrow, South Lebanon, Loveland, Milford, Cincinnati


  1. Robbie rolls on! Thanks for the virtual tour, I couldn't find Blackie? Stay safe and enjoy.

  2. Check at bottom of diagonal log.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.


Leave a comment...