USA 2019 Day 9 from Wheeling to Zanesville

Today’s gonna be a tough day. That’s already clear from the beginning. It was already very long-planned with good 130 kilometers and now some additional kilometers come by the hotel change yesterday still on top. Since there is no second road at the Ohio River on the side in the state of Ohio, I would have had to drive there on the Interstate. That was too dangerous for me and so I planned an alternative route. It’s about the same length but has a lot more vertical meters. Ugh!

After all, my hotel has a very rudimentary breakfast. Toast bread with reddish sugar (they call it jam), fruit yogurt and orange juice. It works like this. Better than nothing. Because of the breakfast, I lose some time because I have to put on my normal clothes and change again afterward. So I start today at 09:45 am with a partly overcast sky.

First, we go the same way on the Greater Wheeling Trail from yesterday evening back to Wheeling in the city. There I crossed the Ohio River on a bridge with a lattice floor. My tires are only a little bit wider than the grid. The Americans have taken the title “Car driver nation” from the Germans for a long time. A rather strange, very spongy and slippery feeling. I was very happy when I could leave the bridge behind me. But I was first on a big island in the river and was already thinking about the second bridge, which I had to cross right away. But it was super asphalted and I had no problems.

On the National Road West 40, I left the city. Several times it was pointed out that it is a historical road. There was nothing to see of it. A modern road, like everywhere in the USA (modern = the potholes are not decades, but only a few years old). Almost 20 kilometers I can cruise relatively comfortably on the very heavily frequented road. Then comes the first steep gradient, a solid 13% on three kilometers. Whew!

There is not much to see here. The road is lined with trees, so I can’t see far and on this road, I prefer to concentrate on the traffic. Always one eye in the rear-view mirror. Despite the partly cloudy sky the temperature first rises to 29°C, later even to 32°C. I don’t want to think about how hot it would have been under a blue sky.

After the first steep gradient, it goes in steady up and down further. Not as steep as the first climb. Fortunately. When I turn off the national road after about 30 kilometers and reorient myself to the south to meet my originally planned route again, it intensifies up and down. Now it’s mostly gradients of around ten percent. About ten kilometers it goes like this. I have to fight with the gradients very much, my bike weighs with the whole luggage felt surely a ton. Then I reach my originally planned route or the route provided by the Adventure Cycling Association. Hopefully, it will be easier now.

Nope! I am on the Belmont Warnock Road, a so-called State Road. Significantly more traffic than on the side road of just now but not as much as on the national road. But many gradients. Not quite as extreme anymore, but many. One after the other. Up and down. Ohio greets me with hills whose roads would have done all the credit to those in Switzerland. Not so beautiful, not so well asphalted, but at least as steep.

But I have no choice and move forward. After all, I got myself into this, so I have to take it myself. After Barnesville, about 60 kilometers, it finally goes downhill for a long time. Or to put it another way: One kilometer. After all! But the up and down continues anyway. Only a little deeper. A madness. If you torture yourself for ten minutes up an incline, the subsequent descent usually takes only 30 seconds. For the same difference in altitude. That is unfair. But I do take part in the game.

And as if that wasn’t enough, the sky is now closing completely and it starts raining. Not continuously, but again and again a shower. Some are so short that I wait for them under a tree. But some are also longer, and more violent so that I have to put on my rainwear. So it goes for quite a while. Then the weather seems to remain stable and I attach my rainwear to my luggage, hopefully for the last time, so that it can dry off in the airstream.

I make astonishing progress. About 130 kilometers. Then I am totally at the end. But there are still some very strong climbs with 16% on the last kilometers! I can’t manage them anymore. Also, the following ascents with only a few percent gradients are now too much for me. As soon as it goes up, I get off my bike and push. When I’m at the top, I get on my bike again and let it roll. About at the height of the airport (How do they land between the hills?), I am so exhausted that my metabolism gives me very clear signs. With a lot of water and one (Or were there more?) Cliff-Bar I get myself back so far that I can go on. That’s how I reach Zanesville.

After the check-in at the motel and the obligatory shower, I manage to get dressed and go out. Hunger drives me. Not far from the motel there is a Wendy’s, which is a burger chain. I drove past it earlier and there I don’t slap a burger in my face, no, but a green salad with fried (as usual) chicken meat. Salad as a menu: It’s logical that in the USA there are fried fries with it! Back at the motel, I fall into bed like being dead.

An uneventful day. Nothing special seen, nothing special experienced. But many kilometers and altitude meters made and all in strength hewed out what is in me. Until shortly before the collapse. I’ve had many days with more altitude meters, but not with such steep climbs. I don’t want to live here. Otherwise, I would mutate into a car driver in the end…

🕑 Ø
7:39 143 km 18.7 km/h 1’400 m 1’370 m


Written on August 22, 2019