When I started today’s ride I didn’t think I’d get all the way to Ohio but that’s just what happened.
To begin with I thought it would be warmer than it was but after riding just a few miles I stopped and got into the electric vest and winter gloves. Besides being cold out it became foggy which only served to make me feel colder. Once inside the vest with the heat on full I was able to enjoy the ride again. What a baby I am…
The day’s route I’d set up was pretty basic, I’d entered the motel as a starting point and a city in Kentucky as a finishing point without specifying intermediate points. My desired direction of travel was to the south and the Pittsburg area stood between me and where I wanted to be. Wanting to avoid the crush of big city traffic as much as possible I hoped the GPS would circumnavigate the area but that was not to be; I soon found myself riding at a relatively high rate of speed mixing it up with semi-trucks and crazy drivers probably late for work. After an hour or so of that I thought the heck with it and bailed off at the next interesting looking exit. Getting where I wanted to be was not something that required me to hurry and freeway travel albeit efficient offers absolutely nothing of interest to see. Unless you’re into semi-trucks that is…
I don’t recall the exit number or the road but it went south and that was good enough. Following along it made the GPS crazy and it continually tried to get me back on the slab so I selected the mode that shows the direction of travel and basic information, but with no goal in mind. That worked better and I soon settled into enjoying the ride through the countryside.
Eventually the road I was on connected with route 551 south, apparently once the main highway serving all the small townships and farming communities in the area. Parts of it followed historical sites that were posted with informational signs about civil war sites and Indian battles. As I rode through the countryside I was again amazed at how well the residents maintain their places and at the size of their lawns. I thought our place in Bandon was a handful but these people mow multiple acre plots that seem to go on for miles. Even the farms keep huge lawn areas manicured. Another thing that I was surprised to see was the high percentage of single-wide trailers on individual home sites. Most of them were as meticulously maintained as the regular houses with beautiful grounds and landscaping, not at all like the ones at home.
Another thing I’d noticed the past few days is the large metal star a lot of houses hang on their walls. I’ve also seen them on barns and buildings but I don’t have a clue as to their significance. They look a bit like a religious symbol or possibly something political so I guess I’ll have to ask someone. I stopped in one little town called Strattonville to mail a couple of postcards home and should have asked there, they seemed to have an abundance of them in the area.
As I continued my ride through the countryside the day became warmer so I stopped and removed my long sleeved shirt and changed back into summer gloves. Big Red has some well placed ventilation zippers that help when the heat goes up but you need to be moving right along for them to be effective. This minor change helped somewhat but after riding a few more miles I realized it wasn’t enough so I did one of my parking lot changes out of Big Red and into a lightweight leather jacket. What a difference that made, but it was still pretty hot until I got moving.
Pennsylvania has no helmet laws so it’s common to see riders without any protection at all, no helmets or gloves, riding in shorts, T-shirts, and tennis shoes. I’d bet the ranch none of them have ever been down on a bike. I also doubt any of them ride more than a few miles from home and it’s always on blacktop. Yesterday while I was waiting for my bike to be serviced I listened to a couple of guys talking about their riding habits. One guy said he never rides at night and never, ever in the rain and the other guy agreed although he admitted he’d occasionally ridden at night, but not often. Neither one of them bothered to wear any protection. Hey, maybe they have thick skulls and calloused hands?
Getting back to today my back roads ride was terminated abruptly when I found myself again faced with getting past Pittsburg. Resigned to riding the slab I re-entered the fray and moved south, at one point encountering another toll road. This one was easy though, it only required a couple of quarters which I had ready. I felt sorry for the guy in front of me though, he apparently was new to the game and gave up, pulling off to the side. The booth gizmo went nuts for a few seconds saying he hadn’t paid and I wondered if it would count my coins towards him. It didn’t, instead I got a polite thank you and I moved on. As I pulled away I saw the guy marching back to the machine and wondered how it was going to know who he was.
Eventually I stopped for gas in the outskirts of Cambridge, OH. I hadn’t been aware of crossing into another state but I was glad to be away from Pittsburg. After gassing up I stopped at a grocery store to buy a few things and while there I asked one of the lady clerks about Ohio’s liquor policy. Hey, there’s no sense in running bone dry is there? Anyway her store carried the usual wine & beer items but their only gin was a product called “Diluted Gin”. That sounded a bit too much like non-alcoholic whiskey so I passed on it. She understood and explained about Ohio’s state owned liquor stores and where I could find one, giving me one of those “You can’t miss it” directions. I thanked her and hopped back on El Nino ready for the short ride to the store. Right.
After 15 minutes of riding around the same 3-block area I gave up, parked and went into the nearest open store which just happened to be a hock-shop. The ladies working behind thick bullet-proof glass eyeballed me suspiciously as I was wearing my helmet and sunglasses, obviously one of the standard get-ups used by robber types. Once they figured out I was non-threatening they got into a heated discussion about exactly where “Mr. G’s”, the state run liquor store was located, on this side of Pizza Hut or was it the other? I thanked both of them leaving them to their debate and headed back to the bike where I entered Pizza Hut into the GPS and off I went. Mr. G’s was just past it a few blocks and my search was over. The male clerk told me which direction to go to find motels and I soon found a cluster of them including the Comfort Inn where I am staying tonight.
Now all I have to do is locate Cambridge, OH and I’ll know where I’m at. I’ll do that first thing in the morning…