Ohiopyle – Nelson Rd/Shaeffer Rd to Point Marion, Pa. 32 miles of riding and bike-a-hike for 4:45 hrs.
I had a bug up my ass today and decided to do a thorough thrashing of myself to make up for the lack of progress yesterday.
Have to admit that another night in the Yurt was not a bad thing. For those of you who have never heard of a Yurt, it’s a big round tent made of heavy duty plastic-canvas material with a skylight type of top to it. It had a divider in the middle with a kitchen area at the front and two bunk beds in the back. Just had electric with no water or bathroom facilities, but it was very cozy for 39 bucks.
Staying in the Yurt at the state park made for a very nice time with our stay in Ohiopyle. Judy prepped up some great food last eve, some breaded chicken patties and some salmon that I rubbed with some brown sugar and chineses hot chili paste. Add some zucchini sautéed in olive oil and it was a great meal after a pretty disappointing day on the bike. We listened to the b-ball game hoping that LaBonehead would loose, but to no avail. Have to admit I’m only interested in this NBA series because I want the Heat to loose – ditto with Judy. So we’re both pretty intent on listening to the games. Once the Heat was pretty far ahead at the end of the first half, we hit the hay and slept like rocks.
I had poured over maps yesterday, including the new one I bought which was a biggie of the whole of Fayettville County, Pa. I just winged it and put together a link of roads which I was hoping would yield gravel – the smaller the road, the more remote - that was the road for me. But I knew that I’d be doing one of two things today – bagging it and riding on pavement, or toughing it out and riding on berms. I had Judy drop me off at a point from yesterday’s ride, that because I’d take advantage of some of the forward progress I’d made. She dropped me off at the jcn of Nelson and Shaeffer roads. And right from the get-go Nelson was pavement, so I rode on the gravel/earthen berm with not a real problem. Now I’m not talking easy here, my speed was never more than 10 mph – and that’s on the descents. My average was like about 6-7 mph. And God, how tempting it is to just say F it and get on the pavement. But I just had to get this one going today after yesterday’s fiasco.
Next road, SR 2015 – pavement. Again, more berm riding. Then a ride on Rt 40 – pavement, but again, with some decent berm. But heck, I met Judy at our designated meeting area in Farmington 30 min ahead of schedule. So I felt somewhat vindicated in trying to stay true to the nature of the trip. Next up Rt 381 – pavement and more berm riding to meet with Judy in Elliotsville. After that I was on a pretty remote section that I’d been eyeing way back in the spring on maps – the Quebec Wild area of Southern Pa. I was just praying that this would be gravel. And after a gnarly berm climb in weeds and gravel in the easiest gear I had, the Quebec Rd finally turned to gravel. Then I passed a closed one-lane bridge and it was game on – with a LONG, LONG gravel climb of about 5 miles. I was in and out of the littlest cookie for the whole thing. There were sections where I was on RR ballast, fist sized cobbles, and ruts, rocks and bare sandsone slickrock. This was a stunning backcountry area, and THIS is what I had hoped AD would be for the most part. Be alas, it was short lived.
It turned back to pavement and back to the berm I went. By this time the temps were in the 80’s and I was just dripping wet with sweat. My big county map was getting soaked in my back jersey pocket and turning into shreds of wet paper gu. Got on SR 2001 and now I was working my ass off trying to stay on berm, this because the road had a huge asphalt berm with a lip, and on the side of that was gullied earth with knee high weeds and rocks. I was just a total mind bender to ride this crap at 4 mph with such a beautiful asphalt berm right next to me. Now I will admit that I did sections of like 100 yrds of asphalt when the terrain was just beyond ridable, and believe you me, today I rode crap I’ve never have ridden just a week ago. I’m talking here of gullies that were 3 feet deep, shrubbery, trees and people’s front yards – though I’d already ridden across a gazillion yards today.
Now the real treat for the day was my ride on Mud Pike Rd – a beautiful, brand new section of asphalt, but with a miniscule berm on each side – made up of fist sized limestone with coal dust as filler. And the best part was that this thing was the fact that it was a 4 mile steep descent with a 2-foot wide berm. I was just getting my ass handed to me trying to stay off of the pavement. My rear tire would fishtail in the loose coal dust, or I would be jostled to death in the limestone. Or I would slide into a gully that varied from 1-3 feet deep and the front wheel with twist to the side. In many sections I’d just ride in the woods next to the road, going over branches, through weeds and shrubs, and over stones. Numerous times I’d wash out the front wheel and damn near endo. Did one so hard that I ended up turning the steering column (gooseneck) over to the left of center! Now again, I had to ride the pavement for a couple times for 10-40 yrds to avoid these massive gullied section that I just couldn’t ride.
I kissed the earth when I came to the jcn of Miller Rd – a mix of pavement and gravel. I continued to stay in the gravel. Got on Bankhead – pavement – where I rode berm. Raymond – pavement – where I rode berm, and Bunker Hill – pavement – where I rode totally gnarly sections of berm-gully. But this time I was having to walk some of the climbs because I was just totally cashed. See even climbing the rollers on berm, I was forced to ride in the easiest gear I had, and plod up the berm at like 4 mph. It was painfully slow. But when Bunker Hill Rd dropped down to parallel along the Cheat River, my prayers were answered – there was an old RR grade that was being used by ATV’s. Man, I jumped on this thing and rode it all the way to Point Marion. Now this wasn’t easy riding – very rocky and filled with old RR ballast – but it wasn’t BERM!! And I could bump my speed up to 9 mph.
It was this thin strand of dbl track with branches and weeds catching my arms on both sides of the track. Got a couple of bleeders due to branches and thorn bushes. I was literally riding in this little tunnel. But I was as happy as… well you fill in the blanks. Now this was actually a portion of the Mon River Trail, that is not official trail. Then I bike-a-hiked it over the bridge of the Cheat and into downtown Point Marion. Met up with Judy, got some coke and a sandwich and continued to bike-a-hike thru town to the trail. And this was my endpoint for the day – 32 miles in about 5 hrs of cycling. Damn…slow, slow, slow. At this rate we may reach St. Louis for this trip!!
But I’m happy that I did it for a day, bridging Ohiopyle to the Mon River Trail. We decided to do a cheap motel in Point Marion that was right next to a Subway, but that fell through due to the rooms not being cleaned by the cleaning people????????? You had to pay for the room in the bar!! Then they suggested that we go a block down the street to this other place. And this other joint was pretty much of a crack house. I mean we pulled in and some emaciated tatted up dude came walking out of a room staring at us. In another doorway was some chubby chick smoking a cig giving us the evil eye. Judy was just shocked, and I knew that this was a no-go. Place looked like a flop house. I honestly believe that it’s a drug haven for drug dealers and users. So we headed to Morgantown – and 100 dollar + hotels. Couldn’t find a place for under a C note, and we sat in a parking lot for 30 min calling places. Even the campground in the area was full. Now it was getting to be 5 PM and as I’ve said already: sometimes you just cut your losses and punt, so I sent Judy in to get a room at the Hilton Garden Inn. I was tired, my neck, shoulders and arms were beaten and sore, my ass was shredded and saddle worn, and I just wanted to end the day and relax. We got a very nice room with all the fancy accoutrements .
Hey, sometimes you just have to go with the flow. So tomorrow we do the Mon River Trail to Fairmount. Then there’s another trail south that doesn’t quite reach Clarksburg. We’ll start from here where I’ll ride north to the point to where I stopped today, and then I’ll ride back south and continue the route from Morgantown. I’ll end up riding 10 or so miles too much by doubling back, but I’m not going to have Judy drive back by herself to Point Marion and the dump that it is. And believe you me, that place is depressed in a massive way.So I used a boat-load of mulligans today with the berm riding, but I pretty much stayed on soft surfaces. You be the judge. But in my world I’m still on target. Now I think that portions of the Mon River Trail are paved, so hopefully I can do grass berm as we have on our Bike & Hike Trail back in Northeast Ohio. We’ll see. Late……..Pete