Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Back in O-HI

North Bend State Park, WV on North Bend Trail to Vincent, OH. 42.5 miles of riding in 6:11 hrs.

P.S. I uploaded shots from yesterday, if you want to check those out.

Yea, not a speed record I know, but I’m pretty proud of what I was able to do today. So we awoke at the top of this mt in North Bend State Park to a stunning morning of sunshine. I worked for a bit while Judy did a run at 7 AM. My breakfast was last night’s beans, with 2 dogs diced up and mixed with onion – breakfast of champions right? Yea, Judy thought that one was just disgusting and putrid. But I can usually run on anything in the morning, anything but pizza with marinara sauce, or tons of coffee with egg sandwiches slathered with mayo. In those cases I’m a massive case of heartburn and acid reflux. But the beans and wieners – golden!! We drove back to my end point yesterday and I got it rolling again on the final stretch of the NBT. Today I had but 28 miles to go and I’d be just east of Parkersburg, WV.
         Today was much more milder than yesterday, with lower humidity and much lower temps – probably like about 73-75 degrees. Now I have to say this from this point to the end of the trail in Happy Valley, it’s just much easier and much mellower than the 30-mile section of trail from Wolf Summit to Ellensboro. Now we’re talking like freeway kind of riding on gravel. Still, this is not road bike material, cuz the thumb sized rocks and gravel will take out a 23C tire in no time. We’re still talking mt and X bike here. But wow, this section was dry, and the two tunnels I went through were just clean as a whistle – crowned high with gravel and smooth and dry. The longest tunnel on the trail is the one I did today, it’s like 1400 feet long and curves. So when you’re in the middle, man, it’s total darkness.
         And as I buzzed along west I could see the terrain mellow out more. No more mts and big valleys off to my side. This was much flatter than the eastern half of the trail. So I passed over this stream, Goose Creek, like 7 times in about 3-4 miles. I got a kick out of that. Like every freaking time I went over a bridge I shouted out: “Goose Creek coming up.” That damned Goose Creek was just everywhere in that particular section. Amazing. Then there was another one, the name of which I forget, that crossed like 3x. But Goose, Creek, that’s a bloody record in my book.
         So I had this crazy record going up until the last 3 miles of today, I had not passed one solitary biker in 67 miles of riding on this trail. And I was totally digging on that, just riding along all by myself, thinking, talking out load, singing, acting like a goofball, the whole thing. No other riders. I had the 70-mile trail all to myself. And then, as I was just 3 miles from the outskirts of Parkersburg 2 friggen *^&*%&$# ruined my record. I almost ditched my bike real quick off to the side so as to keep my record pristine. But…I gave them the complimentary head nod and rode on, with a sullied record on the North Bend. So I hooked up with Judy in Happy Valley, the Western Terminus, in about 2:15 hrs. Grabbed an ice cold coke, looked at my phone GPS and gulped a gulp of anticipation and nervousness all at the same time because I wanted to bridge this section through downtown Parkersburg without doing a ton of bike-a-hike and without riding on pavement. I’d been looking at this short section for a long, long time, and just didn’t know what to expect.
         Now Judy had said that she talked to the two bikers who had ruined my record for riding without seeing people on the trail, and one of the fellows had said that you could not get through after the terminus of the rail trail. So I took that as a kind of challenge. Took off to the west, on ATV trail, and it soon entered like a tunnel of brush and shrubs, then narrowed down to a tangle of jungle where the actual RR tracks were still in tack. So I bike walked this section, and it was indeed gnarly crap to bushwack through. So I came upon two guys doing surveyor work on this old section of RR tracks. And after my asking, they told me it went through to downtown Parkersburg. YES!. Kept on the thing for another mile of bushwhacking until it became impenetrable. Well, Rt 47 was parallel so I jumped in gravel berm for a mile until the RR got back to nothing but this fine coal dust on the top of all the ties. Got back on and rode this pup to downtown Parkersburg. It was a howl riding down a track, where more and more rail lines with popping up until it was like a collection of 5-6 RR lines. Finally got to the point to where a CSX depot and workers were doing some rail car work.
         Beyond that was about another block and then the RR narrowed down to 2 lines that went across the Ohio River on this massive expanse. Ok, decision time…be a dipshit and ride past the CSX people and walk across the RR bridge across the Ohio River…or be a responsible 55-year-old dude and bike-a-hike for a block to the Parkersburg-Belpre bridge and walk that across. Yea, I took the latter. I’m good with doing some stealth stuff on this trip, but pulling a stunt like that in a big city would have been blatantly stupid, and to attempt to ride past CSX people and then dare to walk across a ¾ RR trestle 100 feet above the river – NOT. This thing was way different than my stint across the Monongahela River. The Ohio was like 4x longer, and the RR bridge was right there next to the vehicular bridge in plain sight of everyone.
         So I did a very short one block bike-a-hike and then walked on the pedestrian walkway across the Ohio River. Met Judy and Belpre for the next step – bridging to the Buckeye Trail. I had a route picked out, but after checking with a real nice guy who was working with some volunteers at a “Welcome to Belpre” garden at the foot of the bridge, I was convinced to go his way and just grunt it out on berm. I was hoping that some of my route would be gravel, but this guy assured me there was NO gravel roads and no trail. There wasn’t even any camping areas or motels along the way he’d told me. So off we went on Rt 618, me riding as he “Berminator” again. And the section of 618 was actually pretty easy. But once I came to Rt 339, the tides changed and I was just getting my ass kicked on these thin ribbons of earthen berm with knee high weeds, bottles, cans, plastic water bottles, and crap everywhere. God, it was painfully slow.
         And the bad thing was that this (*^&%^# of a road just kept climbing and climbing and climbing with these stair step climbs. Man I was on crap berm doing like 4 mph in the easiest gear I had and feeling like I was going nowhere. Welcome to American Dirt you idiot! Judy kept stopping and feeding me cokes, and then she stopped at a place and got lunch meat and cheese so I had 2 monster turkey and cheese sandwiches. Good news was that there was indeed a little campground up the road. So we wouldn’t have to drive to Marietta for the evening to camp or motel. So I kept rolling, up hill, slow as a turtle, just spinning away. And we made it. Small little campground with like 5 walk-in sites available. The shower and bathhouse…ooompa – nasty little thing. But hey, I’m cool. We have a spot for the eve with water and electric. Judy is good to, other than the fact that she’ll NOT take a shower tonight. I mean there’s pigeon shit on the floors for God’s sake. Me, I’m going to walk on the wild side and tap dance around the pigeon shit for a shower. I’ll just wear some flip flops for that one. Now I’m hoping to have a smidge of hot water, so the jury’s still out on my shower experience here.
         We had a burgers and a spinach salad for dinner. Right now we’re sitting here next to Rt 339 listening to Jake brakes and cars race by, that and my feeble little compact speakers hooked up to my phone playing some ambient music on the net. Good thing is that my wifi is really good – 3G with 3 bars. So I’ll hopefully get pics up on the blog with this. Last night it was a pain in the ass even getting my emails to pull up. So we’ll so. Tomorrow I hope to be the Berminator again and bridge up to the Buckeye trail. See ya………Pete

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