Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Saturday, May 9, 2015

May 9...bicycling from Hebron, Ohio to Wheeling, WV

107.93 miles in 9:22....ascent 4941 ft...descent 5144 ft.average speed 11.5 mph....max speed 36.1 trip miles trip ascent 45,960ft... Average mileage per ride for 25 days riding...87.42....

The anticipation of a long, hot day woke me up at 6:30am, and I was on the bicycle at 8:00. It was very humid from the get go, but the saving grace was early morning clouds, as there had been a tad of overnight rain ( only about five minutes of rain fell on me for the entire trip). US 40 started to roll on me, just as I had expected, and even more than that, there were some flat out hills, even before I got to Zanesville, which was 40 miles into the trip. The road was generally four lane, and on one stretch just before Zanesville, there was a bike lane on each side of the road. Traffic was light, as has been the case most days on 40, and the wooded hills pretty much have overtaken farmers fields as the main scenery. Before I got to Zanesville, the stretch of up and down hills ended with a descent into the Muskingham River valley, and a nice long ride along the valley floor gave my legs a chance to get a break, a second wind, and that was a good thing, because I was only a third of the way into the ride and had already climbed 8-900 ft. 
After riding through Zanesville, and seeing buildings that I had only ever seen from I-70, I had to climb out of the Muskingham Valley, on a terrible piece of road, bumpy, turny, and narrow.  US40 could really use some TLC in Zanesville. The neatest feature in town was a "Y" bridge that carried 40 over the river, and also carried a road over a creek, and they intersected, with the bridge forming a Y. 
Twenty miles or so passed, with again some bad road, some nice road with a bike lane, and then the towns of New Concord, and Cambridge, pretty close to each other through a stretch where the hills were calmer, but I was still racking up some ascent, at least compared to what I've been accustomed to. About five miles after Cambridge, I came to a very small village of Old Washington, but I made a very big decision. The next twenty miles of US40 had long ago been eradicated by the days of strip mining for coal in this area, so there was a alternate bucycle route through Amish country that would have added on unwanted miles, and more so, added on much more climbing. Or, I could follow the signs for US 40, and hop on I-70 and make a run for it, hoping I didn't get stopped by the Ohio Highway Patrol. On another trip, under other circumstances, in a different place, I would have gone for the Amish country, but not today. I hopped on the interstate, and it all started out well. A few miles of gentle downhill got me rolling on a surprisingly clean shoulder, but then I hit a two mile upslope, and I climbed about 600 ft, which is pretty severe for an interstate in the state of Ohio. That slowed me down more than I had hoped. A few more rollers, and when I was just a few miles from my exit it Morristown, I saw road construction signs. I also saw that my shoulder became a lane, and they squeezed my eastbound side over, so the westbound lanes could ride on some eastbound lanes. UH, OH! There was nothing I could do but roll with it, so there I went for about a mile in the traffic lane on I-70. Traffic wasn't terrible, and everyone saw me and got over, and only two trucks even bothered to honk at me, the idiot biking on the interstate. I should have been arrested, or at least caused a traffic mess, but neither happened. After reviewing my life as it flashed in front of me for about five minutes, the construction zone mercifully ended, and there was my exit. Thank god it wasn't a five mile work zone! 
When I got off the interstate, things got really ugly. I was about 80 miles into the ride, I had just pedaled my ass off to get out of the construction zone, and now the serious hills began. I have to say, that the stretch of US40 between Morristown and St. Clairsville is one of the most difficult 15 mile stretches I've ever ridden. The shoulder was crap, the surface of the road was crap, and the 8-10% grades just came one after the other after the other, until I thought each hill would be the last I could do. Even in downtown St Clairsville, nothing near level to be found. I figured it out later, but an absolutely amazing statistic is that I did 12% of my total trip ascent today!!!! One day-12% of the trips total climbing. Amazing. I will recommend right now to any bicyclist traveling US40. AVOID ST. CLAIRSVILLE at all costs. Go thirty miles out of your way on US22 through Cadiz, or choose another way, but..... The east end of St Clairsville lightens up quite a bit, but then there is Blaine Hill. If your westbound, it will be the nastiest hill you on your entire trip. If your eastbound,  like me, I had wind whistling through my hair as I rolled down the very rough hill at 35 mph, with bone jarring bumps that could cause a bike to lose control. Especially, at the bottom of the hill, after the new bridge over the creek, the road is so bad, it will break your bike if your not ready. Fortunately some backed up traffic caused me to slow down before I came off the bridge, because the next stretch of US40 through Blaine, and Lansing is the Worst Road In The Country. I think by now I am qualified to make that statement. Bone jarring bumps every two feet, potholes the size of a kitchen sink, dirt and gravel and car parts that have rattled off the cars litter ant type of shoulder or sidewalk there may be. Pathetic. Dangerous. Inexcusable. Why is the Ohio Valley turning into the armpit of the nation?
Things got a little better as I went through Bridgeport, over Wheeling a Island, and into downtown Wheeling. Somebody forgot to turn out the lights on my once proud home town. Wow. I got on the Wheeling Heritage Trail and stayed in level ground all the way through Goosetown, through the train tunnel, and to Washington Ave, where I departed the path, and headed for the Alpha, one of my favorite establishments. This was decided to be my ending point long ago, because I've pedaled the stretch between there and my home a hundred times, and I don't need to do it again, along with its additional 35 miles and 3000 ft of climbing. 
So there you have it. Another trip successfully and safely completed. Now, to heal up the cuts on my feet where my sandals cut into the skin, and to heal the parts of my butt that took a beating, yet still somehow keep off the weight that I lost, and keep my legs in shape. Because my legs are in 'beast mode" after eight consecutive days of 90 miles or more ridden. Now I've gotta get some rest....bye.

One of the many historical plaques on the National Road

One of the oldest historical markers

Zanesville railroad bridge crossing the Miami River

Famous "y" bridge over the Miami

Stately Zanesville courthouse

One of the few remaining concrete mile markers on the National Road

US 40 disappears due to strip mining near Cambridge

St Clairsville - getting close to home

Woo hoo!  West Virginia!

Madonna of the Trail in Wheeling, WV

End of the trip at Ye Olde Alpha!!!

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