Monday, June 18, 2012

"The Decision"

Saturday, June 16. Logan, OH to Hocking Hills State Park. 39 miles of riding and bike-a-hike in 5:11 hrs, and only about 30 miles of that was forward progress!!

Another really hot, tough day. I had gotten up pretty early at the Hotel such that I could do the section of BT that I ended at outside of Logan, and ride it just south of Logan to Logan Lake SP. Then I would regroup at the hotel, check out, and then ride a second section to Hocking Hills SP.
So Judy did the treadmill at the hotel exercise room while I shoveled down the breakfast buffet of sausage gravy, biscuits, scrambled eggs, ham and sausage at 7 AM. Did two plates of that nutritious meal and then changed to ride. So my plan was to ride back to where I left off and then ride the route to Lake Logan SP which is about 3 miles south of the hotel. Made it to yesterday’s stop end point and then began, doing the berminator thing for about a mile until the road turned to gravel. Then the gravel ended and I was on single-track of several miles. Again, had to push the bike up the steep stuff, and dismount over deadfall and really V’d out stream beds. Made it though that section and then it was back to a mix of gravel road and asphalt where I did the berminator.
Got to admit that the berminator stuff is just the hardest riding I’ve ever done. You’re usually riding on a camber, and trying not to wash the wheels to the right or left into the road’s drainage line. Now I’ve been switching sides to ride on ever since I got going on berms back in Ohiopyle. I was never one to ride against traffic, but on this trip I’ve bent the rules considerably, especially when the berm is just non-existent on one side, and about a foot wide or wider on the other. Now sometimes there is just zero berm – like on some steep descents -  and I hate to do it but I’ve no choice but to walk the bike or ride asphalt for anywhere from a few feet to a mile or so. Same is the case for some climbing. Sometimes the berm just disappears and you’re left with a choice: ride the road, walk, or ride in a drainage ditch filled with stone, chunks of wood and garbage. Jesus, the gravel riding is the easy stuff – the berm is just beyond definition with respect to difficulty.
I do draw the line though when doing this berm riding, and that is very evident when I’m on the opposing side of traffic on the berm riding up a blind hill, with about 1 ft of berm between me and the oncoming traffic. I’ll usually cross over to the other side and ride on asphalt to top out and then once over the blind spot, go back to the against traffic side. It’s a judgement call on each and every hill, but I’m letting safety override the ethics whenever there’s a question in my mind about the safety of a hill. 
Got a few really nice sections of sandstone gravel and limestone gravel roads. The climbing was still very tough, and I’d more than likely end up in the little cookie just spinning to the top. Today was the first day where I felt that my legs were just not at home. There were dead, sore, and unresponsive to anything. The climbing was laborious and the heat just magnified my feeling of being totally empty in the leg power dept.
Now this BT isn’t all that it’s supposed to be. I had a couple of times today where I just couldn’t for the life of me find a blue blaze to follow. Did a few ride-bys and still couldn’t find a blaze. Got the maps out and still couldn’t find a blaze. I mean some of the blazes are so old and weathered that you can barely tell they’re there. It’s pretty frustrating. Hell, I ended up at one place with maps in hand, GPS cranking and STILL having a hard time locating the blue blazes for a potential turn. Have to admit I was cussing up a storm on that one.
So once I got into Hocking Hill State Park you’re not allowed to ride bikes on the BT hiking trail, so I had to use adjacent roadways to parallel down to meet Judy at the park headquarters and camp area.
And thus began a berminator from hell day. The first road was this brand spanking new pavement with like a 8-inch wide strip of sand on both sides of the road. Now I’m ok with that – I can ride a line – but the problem was that on each of the sides of that sand strip was ditch about 2-3 feet deep, and at times the sand strip is cambered into the ditch. So I ended up washing the wheels so many times down that camber that I lost count. I was pulling out of the pedals every 5 min trying not to biff it into the ditch. Finally, on the steep descents and accents I said FORK IT and rode on pavement. I think my upper body got more of a workout today than my lower body from riding the berms.
         Finally got to the Hocking Hills park headquarters to meet Judy, did a pretty big climb up to the camping area, but after I rode up into the campground and around each and every cul-de-sac she was nowhere to be found. Stopped to use my phone – which is useless out here as well as the wifi – and then she came around a corner.  Turns out that she got a campsite at a totally different campground. Hey, on a trip like this there’s bound to be mistakes. So we loaded my bike and took off to this private campground rather than the SP campground. And truthfully, the SP campground was like the total underbelly of camping – everything I want to get away from is in that Hocking Hills SP campgound. It’s like wall to wall people – a mass of humanity all coming to the same place to get away from it all and thus creating a transient mass of chaos.
         So actually, I was pretty good with her getting the “wrong” campground. At least where we’re at now, it’s quiet, an shady – temps topped 90-degrees today – and we don’t have all the chaos going on.
         So we’ve been talking for the past two days on the feasibility of making the West Coast on the timeline we’re on right now. As it stands we’ll likely be in Ohio for another 7-10 days at this rate. Add two weeks for Indiana, two weeks for IL, and a week in MO to get to the Katy Trail and we’re at 2 months in. Have to admit that I thought I could belt out 100-mile days, but at this rate, doing the berminator thing in addition to the gravel and single-track, that’s just impossible. Best case scenario is doing an additional 20 miles for the day by getting earlier starts – and that’s three more hrs or riding. So that would put me at 50-60 miles/day. Still pretty slow.
         I’m thinking very seriously of just negating the berminator shit on asphalt sections and just doing the gravel and single-track as it comes along as planned, and then ride pavement when I have no other option. The berm riding is doing two things – #1 sucking the time out of every day due to the laborious nature of the riding, and #2 putting me in some pretty unsafe situations on the road, both from a traffic standpoint and from a “I’m going to kill myself with an endo” standpoint. Now I do feel good that I’ve ridden about 670 miles from DC to here with at the most like 2-3 miles of actual pavement riding and that’s combined from a bunch of little stints on pavement!! Yet most of that 670 miles was on established rail trail and canal trail, so the number is somewhat deceiving. The really telling number is the miles from Ohiopyle to here in Hocking Hills where we’ve had to link section after section of gravel and trail with berminator rides. We arrived in Ohiopyle 10 days ago, and have completed 315 miles of forward progress since then. That’s an average of 31 miles/day!! At this rate it’s 6 months minimum to finish on the West Coast.
         So it’s decision time tomorrow…continue with the AD ethics and get as far as we can…or do all the gravel and single-track as possible, but no more berm riding to link those sections – asphalt and concrete would be a component of the trip.
         No wifi up here so you’ll likely get this late tomorrow afternoon when we get close to Chillicothe. May have to do a Micky D’s to get my wifi, so stay tuned for the drama……Pete 

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