Any Road Tour: Day 9 – Rail riding on the pool table

The hostel upgraded me to a private room last night. This is either because I am a nice guy or I smelled too bad to be put in a group room.

I walked to dinner, choosing a Mexican place about a mile away. I had an avocado burrito. It made my tummy happy.

Before sleeping I did a bunch of exercises to loosen up my back. My leg muscles were really tight so they got some stretching love too.

I fell asleep on top of the bed never actually getting under the covers, yet another sign that I am pushing my body a little too hard.

I was proud of myself for remembering that today is Wednesday. So I wore my WABA socks with pride.

After breakfast in the hostel, I headed out town the Olentangy Trail. This took me past Ohio State University and it’s enormous football stadium.

I made several wrong turns because the wayfaring signs need some work. I passed another bicycle tourist who was trying to find his way to Cincinnati. I said I had no idea. I later learned that my route was probably what he was looking for.

The Olentangy Trail led me to the Camp Chase Trail which led me to the Roberts Pass Trail which led me to the Prairie Grass Trail. Basically 90 percent of my riding was car free – except for the pick up truck that nearly t-boned me at a crossing. (My bad. I was trancing.)

The breeze was pushing me a bit but as the day went on it became a cross wind. Fortunately most of the nearly 30 miles of the Prairie Grass Trail was lined with vegetation that provided me with some protection.

After noon, the heat, humidity, wind, and clouds began to increase. I decided that pushing beyond Xenia OH might be tempting fate so I checked into a hotel.

It did in fact rain about 30 minutes later so I probably made the right call.

Indiana tomorrow.

Today’s mileage: 63

Tour mileage: 633

Any Road Tour: Day 7 – I bought my bike anchor at REI

After pigging our at the hotel’s breakfast, I hit the road late, around 8:15. I still had a bit more of a hill to climb. This was good because it warmed me up for the 4,000 hills to come. Eastern Ohio is a topographical roller coaster. The hills are shorter than yesterday which allows for a bit of hill hopping, riding hell for leather down one hill to zoom up the next one. This works a whole lot better when your bike isn’t a tank though.

My bike is a tank naked but add four panniers and camping gear and you’ve got one weighty beast. This being day 7 you might be wondering why is he carrying the tent, a heavy 2-person tent I might add, and all that camping stuff.

Because I’m an idiot, that’s why.

The truth is I want the option of camping when indoor accommodations are not easy to come by. I think the tent will become more useful in the weeks ahead. When the terrain is level. Life’s not fair then you die.

I was thinking a lot about death today as the temperature rose into the low 90s (Celsius). There were so many hills that I had to find a way to keep from completely blowing up on them. I started to pre-breath like a free diver to get as much oxygen into my system and to expand my lungs. Also, once I dropped into my granny gear, I’d just put my head down and focus on the road just s few feet beyond my front wheel. This kept me from being mentally defeated by seeing the top of the climb way…up…there.

So I didn’t take too many pictures.

There were many descents at over 30 miles per hour. The Mule can rumble!

After Barnesville I missed a turn and had a nice hilly, mile-long tour of the countryside.

This made me paranoid about missing more turns so I stopped often to get my bearings. And ice cream. And water. My hematologist warmed me not to get dehydrated. So I made sure to carry extra water. At a gas station I had lunch: PB&J, chips, a big cookie, and a Diet Pepsi that was so big I had difficulty holding the cup. I am not making this up. Ohioans must have amazing bladders.

The Mule had so much water I thought of renaming him The Camel, The Mule was not amused.

At 1 or 1:30 I came to my planned stopping point at a campground near Senecaville.

It was too early to quit and I’d only ridden 50 miles so I decided to continue on for another 30 miles to Zanesville.

Did I mention it was hilly? Did I mention it was hot? Did I forget to mention that there was absolutely no shade on the god damned road?

Fug me.

The elevation profile on my maps seemed inaccurate. I should have notice that the scale had been compressed from yesterday. I stared at the elevation profile. Just 5 more hills to go!

I was on a road that had tar on the surface. The tar was liquefying in the heat. Every so often my back wheel would slide in the stuff. And the road also featured curious patches of gravel. Gravel on a descent can ruin your whole day.

Then the terrain stopped matching the profile. I came to a highway. Oops. I had missed another turn someplace.

Fortunately the highway was US 40, the National Toad that goes right through Zanesville. Highway 40 had very little traffic, a wide shoulder, and smooth pavement. There were hills but they were gradual.

After seeing a recently painted Mail Pouch tobacco sign, I rode down the hill into downtown Zanesville. Let’s just say Petula Clark would never sing about this downtown.

I searched the local hotels until I found a decent one near food, a burger and milk shake establishment.

Heaven. I’m in heaven.,.

The detours pushed my mileage to 84 for the day, easing the tour total to 494. Not bad for a week’s work.