July 25, 1999 - Day 46 - Cadiz, Ohio to Coraopolis, Pennsylvania
59 miles - 3130 total miles (Odometer decided not to work again)
Roadkill: 24 up to Pennsylvania (end of Midwest)
23 Pennsylvania line to Coraopolis
The day started with a monster breakfast at the Family Tree Inn, the bed and breakfast I stayed at in Cadiz. Dorothea Greer, the hostess, is a very good cook. She's also a history buff, very into geneology. She lent me a couple of booklets to read about Harrison County people of note. (Lincoln's Secretary of War, Stanton, was another famous Cadiz resident.)
My destination today is assured. My sister and nephews live in Coraopolis, just west of Pittsburgh, right on the Ohio River, about 60 miles away.
But I just couldn't get my engine running this morning. I left the Family Tree at almost 11:00, and stopped almost immediately at McDonald's for a drink. I was lethargic, unmotivated, tired (even though getting a good night's sleep). I saw the Appalachians looming ahead of me and just didn't want to face them. I think the heat and humidity are finally draining me.
When down, you have to find a way to motivate yourself. On leaving McDonald's, I saw a USA Today newsbox, and the picture of Lance Armstrong caught my eye.
It's Sunday night as I write and I haven't heard officially whether or not he won, but he's a champion anyway, isn't he? (unless that butt rash cream really WAS a secret blood doping agent).
But I used "fellow cyclist" Lance Armstrong today as my inspiration to pull me up the tough grades and over the mental hurdles. As it turned out, most of today's obstacles were mental. It was actually a little cooler and a little less humid. Most importantly, I made a smart routing decision. I got on the busier Rte. 22 eastbound out of Cadiz. Yes, more traffic, but the road was beautifully graded all the way to Pittsburgh, so I avoided the kinds of hills that were killing me mentally. Plus there was a very strong tailwind today.
One minor problem, though.
Good shoulder, eh?
Looks like a good, wide shoulder, doesn't it?
Do the rumble strips show up? Note how they extend from the right lane of traffic all the way over to the weeds on the right?
These, in fact, weren't as deeply rutted as those on I-76 in Colorado, so I could ride over them without harm to the bike, but it still shows that those who plan our roadways apparently give no consideration at all to the bicycle as a form of transportation.
The Illinois State Trooper who pulled me over July 13 told me I shouldn't be riding a bike on any highway in America because they were all unsafe. Thank you, sir.
You know, I haven't bought one gallon of gas on this trip.
Joe Magyar territory
You know you're entering the valley created by the Ohio River when you start descending a hill, and keep descending... and descending. You don't see the river, but you know it's coming partly because the map tells you it's coming, and certainly because you don't descend this much for some insignificant trough of water.
But you also enter the Steel Belt of the United States of America when you enter this valley. And here in Steubenville, Ohio, right on the river, is a monument I liked.
Ohio River Bridge
Isn't this bridge beautiful? Lance Armstrong got to go through the Arch de Triomphe today, but I got to ride through this beautiful arch. And this one is certainly more significant to our history than that French one.
The Ohio River
The Ohio River completes the Holy Trinity of great American rivers I've crossed: the Father (Mississippi), the Son (Ohio) and the Holy Ghost (Missouri).
When I was a kid I'd look down these rivers and imagine I could see Indians in their canoes, or Mike Fink on his flatboat, or Mark Twain on his steamboat.
When I crossed the Missouri (July 9), I looked down and saw Lewis and Clark and their expedition poling their way upstream. Here I look and see Lewis and the expeditionary force (Clark won't join them until Kentucky) floating downstream almost two years earlier than I saw them on the Missouri (and you thought I was moving slowly).
The Ohio is such an important highway in our history. It's the river that opened up the Northwest Territory for us (bad news for the Indians). It's the reason why the states of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois have their state capitals in their southern regions. (In Illinois' case at least, the state capital has moved northward several times.)
Aaron Burr, after killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel, was going to launch his new empire and his takeover of the existing United States by moving up the Ohio River from his "headquarters" on an island in the Ohio near Marietta, Ohio.
It's how thousands of pioneer Americans floated their way down to the Mississippi, turned north and went through the great Arch (not the McDonald's, the OTHER one) to open the American West.
And on and on and on.
And into West Virginia halfway across the bridge. Yes, Sruthi, it IS Brooke County!
I had eaten a huge breakfast at 10:00. It was 1:00 when I crossed the river and entered Wierton, W. Virginia. I was starving. How hungry was I? I ate at a Kentucky Fried Chicken, excuse me, KFC. My first one of those on the trip. They had a buffet that was actually pretty good. I had five pieces of chicken, a plate of canned peaches, corn with gravy (don't ask - stomach just said ,"Do it") and five diet cokes. Very good.
Wierton is a steel town for sure (big mill there) and might be a mining town as well. I never saw more crippled up men than I did in that KFC.
Whoo-hoo!! Three states in one day, a new PR. I'm flying!! Of course, I was in West Virginia for a solid 6 miles. I'll bet you didn't even know about that finger of West Virginia that pokes up their between Ohio and Pa., did you? Go ahead, get that map out and check. I'm looking for a reason why you just don't cross the river into Pennsylvania - why did W. Va. get that little sliver?
Ok, history students, when and why did West Virginia become a state?
Rte. 22 got busier and busier the closer to Pittsburgh I rode, so it was a pleasure to drop down onto the Montour Trail, a rails-to-trails that follows the Montour Run (creek) northward to the Ohio River, just east of Coraopolis.
It was great to see this sign because to me it means "Family". My sister and my nephews live here, and I have a niece, her husband and two grandnieces (is that what you call them?) who live nearby.
Andy "The Great One" Dennison
This is my nephew, Andy. That thing on his leg is not a birthmark. He got hit with a ball in the hockey league he and his brother and neighbors play in. A few inches up and to the right and he might have really got hurt.
Andy is the second of my sister's four sons. He's 24 and an accountant in Morgantown, West Virginia, about an hour south. He's an eligible bachelor, phone number 304-296-8039, email email@example.com.
Andy drove all the way up home just to see his uncle (that's me). Thanks, Andy.
On the left is my nephew Stephen, who will be a sophomore at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. Then my sister, Virginia Lee. We call her Lee. She goes by Ginger in the real world. She's my next-older sister. (Hey Ros, did you put the moves on my sister once??? It's ok, I think she was flattered. Then again, if you didn't, let's just leave it as is.)
Next is my nephew Andy of ugliest-leg-on-earth fame.
And on the right is next door neighbor Pat Walsh. There are six Walsh boys and four Walsh girls. For as long as I've been coming to visit the Dennisons, my nephews will be playing street hockey with some assortment of the Walsh family when I pull up in front of the house, year-in and year-out. I've watched my nephews grow up with those hockey sticks. A tradition developed over time: I'd pull up, roll down the window and verbally trash the Penguins or Steelers, and then they'd verbally trash every Chicago team. With those formalities out of the way, I'd park and unpack.
Pat is a spelling bee champion. Just ask him to spell "eyebrowl".
Nephews not pictured are Rob, the oldest, who is married and lives in San Diego, and Jeff, third in line, who was out with his girlfriend.
My brother-in-law, Charlie Dennison, Lee's husband, died of cancer April 29. He had been pastor of Grace Orthodox Presbyterian Church across the river in Sewickley since 1974. All the boys except Rob were born right here in Coraopolis.
I'm going to take a day off to regroup. I'll be back on the road Tuesday, July 27.
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