We woke today with large ambitions:
1. We needed to cross out of Ohio, through West Virginia, and into Pennsylvania.
2. We were going to rendezvous with my mom who had volunteered to act as a support vehicle and carry our gear for us over the next couple days.
As we set off, the air was heavy with moisture and there was fog obscuring some of the road. Clouds covered the sun, keeping it "cool". The morning was not comfortable however, and even with the slightest exertion, sweat would pour off of us due to the oppressive humidity. We passed through the historic portion of Cambridge before setting off to face some more hills.
I thought that Ohio would continue the Midwestern trend of having flat agricultural land, but instead it seems many of the hills I was expecting to find in Pennsylvania, have slipped over the state border and are attacking us earlier. We climbed and descended too many times to count. Unfortunately these hills were way too steep to maintain any momentum and we were working at our maximum effort, during our entire trip on Highway 22 to Cadiz. To make the situation more fun, the shoulder was most nonexistent and the road was heavily trafficked by oil drilling and fracking equipment.
The humidity occasionally changed to 10 minute rain showers. The rain did little to cool us, and only accomplished obscuring whether we were dripping water or sweat onto our bike frames and gear. The road to Cadiz passed through a few small communities, some of which housed Amish families, as was evident by some Amish men being driven to work at furniture and other woodworking businesses.
There were few places to stop along this stretch of road, but we did stop along Piedmont Lake and learn about Civil War battles that had taken place along the stretch of road we were following. Right before Cadiz we were forced to scale the steepest hills of the morning, before reaching a pizza place. As we had ridden quite a bit of distance and burned way more calories that we had eaten so far, our breakfast/lunch meals were rather large. Jonathan ate a spaghetti dinner with salad, while I ate a 14" pizza. While these heavy meals might have made our trip more difficult under normal circumstances, we were in luck. Highway 22 became an actual freeway after Cadiz and we were allowed to ride it for about 12 miles before bicycles were prohibited. These 12 miles flew by, and we were quite disappointed to have to exit the freeway and take older, steeper roads to Steubenville.
Steubenville was the most built-up city we had seen since Cambridge, but our excitement to escape the hills of Eastern Ohio kept us moving quickly through the city. This was also helped by the fact that the last few miles were purely downhill to the Ohio River. Waiting at one stop sign, a man pulled up in his car, rolled down the window, shouted "Meet my friend" and then proceeded to hold up a plastic spider and make a bizarre noise at us. As we starred at him in disbelief, he pulled a bit farther forward, and continued to make the noise for another 90 second or so as he waited for an opening in traffic to pull out into. I am not sure why people in this part of the state are so "interesting". Maybe they hate the hills as much as we do.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the highlight of Eastern Ohio. Jonathan and I have been playing the "Sign Game". The object is to identify signs that begin with each letter of the alphabet... in alphabetical order. Coming out of Columbus yesterday we had done quite well, but found ourselves stuck on "x" since Zanesville. It was at the intersection with crazy-spider-man that we found "X-Tra Storage" on not one, but two signs. With the letter "x" now found, we were sure we would be able to complete the game before Farmington.
After our descent we crossed into West Virginia and sought out a Subway for lunch. I found a "shortcut" while eating, and we headed off to Pennsylvania. Unfortunately the shortcut involved a steep gravel road, so I quickly found another road that would keep us headed towards Pittsburgh. This was a small county road that had the steepest grade climb that we have covered on our trip. Exhausted and sweaty, we finally reached the top of it, and then cruised over to Pennsylvania. Our travels in West Virginia were only about 10 miles long, but they were definitely not easy.
Once in Pennsylvania, we headed off on Route 50 towards Pittsburgh. By this point my mom was on the other side of Pittsburgh looking for hotels and we planned to head towards each other. Between the towns of Avella and Hickory we finally spotted the CT-license plate clad SUV we had been hoping to see all day. We ditched out gear in the back, and road the final miles into Hickory before my mom drove us back to our hotel. Tomorrow morning we will come back to this exact spot and continue the trip. Luckily for us, and perhaps unfortunately for my mom, there was a Denny's right next to the hotel! Time for another late night "brinner".
Photos by Jonathan Kobles
About Lea's Foundation
In 1998, Lea Michele Economos, a young woman who died of leukemia at the age of 28, made a dying wish to her parents that others would not face the hardships she encountered by finding a cure for this disease. Her family started this charity to carry on that wish. Today, Lea’s Foundation takes an active role in finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and myeloma and to better the lives of people living with these diseases. At the UCONN Health Center, the Lea’s Foundation Center for Hematologic Disorders sponsors research in this field. A new program covers the cost of bone-marrow testing to help recruit life-saving transplants for patients. Also, annual scholarships are given to children with leukemia who are planning to attend nursery school. For more information on other projects carried out by Lea’s Foundation, please visit their website at www.LeasFoundation.org.