On the Road Again

River-with-Birds

On Tuesday morning, after four long days killing time in the Franklin Motel 6, we checked out and raced over to the Gray Goat bike shop to await delivery of Bill’s replacement rim. The rim arrived and Brandon, the mechanic, quickly got to work on it. By 2:30, the deed was done. Thank you, Brandon! We headed out to the Johnson County Fairgrounds Campground for the night, happy to be back on the road. We were reminded of the Willie Nelson song On the Road Again.

“On the road again
Goin’ places that I’ve never been
Seein’ things that I may never see again
And I can’t wait to get on the road again.”

Brandon-Building-Wheel
Brandon building Bill’s wheel
Rim-Failure
Now that’s a catastrophic failure!

The weather was good, and we had a couple of nice campsites and cycling days. Near the end of our time in Indiana, we camped at a county park east of Terre Haute. After riding the four miles into town, eating and doing our laundry, we checked the weather and received the tough news. A tornado warning and storms with tennis ball sized hail were forecasted. We quickly rode back to camp just as the rain, thunder, and lightning started. Sirens were blaring, warning of the imminent threat. Having no shelter other than our tents, we decided to wait it out in the campground bathhouse.  Interestingly, all the campsites we’ve stayed in recently have a designated storm shelter, often the bathhouse or laundry room.  That’s a statement!  Fortunately, the storm passed quickly, with no hail or tornados, and we got on with our night.  The next morning, we broke camp early and crossed the border into Illinois. We’ve made it to the Central time zone!

Effingham-Radar
It looked like it was going to miss us … but it didn’t!
Swine-Pavillion
Indeed!

Our first night in Illinois was in the town of Casey whose slogan is Small Town Big Things — home to the world’s largest rocking chair, wind chimes, pencil and golf tee, among others.  They also had the nosiest Campground of our trip to date; it was a quarter mile from the interstate with incessant truck traffic all night.  To add insult to injury, there was a bright streetlight directly over our tents, making it tough to recognize daylight as it arrived.

Big-Rocking-Chair

Big-Pencil
Yup, they sure are big

We couldn’t wait to get out of that campground – until we got on the road and discovered that we were riding into a 20-30 mph headwind!  It was exhausting and slow going.  Much of the time, we struggled to maintain 6 mph, and that’s with no hills!  I was not feeling well, so we decided to get a room in Effingham and have our bikes checked at the local bike shop. Surprisingly, my chain that was new at the start of the trip already needed to be replaced. The strong 30 mph headwinds continued the following day.  Some days are easier than others; it’s all part of the package.

ConfedAmerica-Flag
Have we crossed into another country?

Grounded!

Indiana welcomed us with a gloomy forecast of thunderstorms and high winds, steering us towards a well-deserved rest day.  It had been eight days since our last one, and we were ready; it felt great to rest our weary bones.

Say-No-to-Meth
Sign coming into Shelbyville

The next morning was chilly but dry, so we bundled up and continued on our way.  At our first rest stop, we were treated to free coffee at a convenience store.  We thanked them and continued on to Shelbyville, where we had a hearty pasta lunch at Pasqhetti’s Italian Restaurant and talked with some of the wait staff who were curious about our trip. After a delicious meal, our waitress, Michelle, informed us that it was on the house!  The day was shaping up to be a good one. We stopped at the local bike shop and met Tim, the owner. He was friendly and loaned us his pump to top off the air in our tires. We headed on, fueled up and feeling good.

After about six miles, I noticed that Bill was no longer behind me. Just as I pulled over to wait for him, my phone rang.  It was Bill; he was having a mechanical problem with his rear wheel. The rear rim was split. It’s an unusual failure, one I’ve never seen before in all my years of cycling.  We can only assume it’s a defective rim.

Damaged-Rim
This doesn’t look good

Fortunately, we weren’t far from civilization; the next town was eleven miles down the road.  We considered our options — hitchhiking, Uber, walking — and finally decided to ride very slowly to the bike shop in Franklin, IN.  Bill’s bike has a Rohloff hub, making it impossible for him to buy a standard pre-made wheel.  A new wheel would need to be built around his hub.  Long story short, he had to order a new rim and spokes, and they won’t arrive until Tuesday.  Then the wheel has to be built.  Our best case scenario is getting back on the road on Wednesday.  The delay also puts us behind schedule for my May 22nd chemo appointment in Kanas City.  No one said this was going to be easy.

vending-with-humor
Our hotel vending machines – with some humor

The next challenge, what to do in Franklin for four days.  We’re aching to be back on our bikes.

field-of-yellow-flowers
Where we’d like to be
Franklin-Hotel-View
Where we are:  view from our hotel

Into the Hills

Queen-Aliquippa-Camp-Selfie

We finished the GAP trail and headed onward to the Montour and Panhandle trails, our gateway to West Virginia. Amenities were sparse in the early part of the trail, forcing us to stealth camp our first night in West Virginia.  That’s the term for camping without a legitimate campsite.  Sometimes there’s just no choice.

Stealth-Campsite
Stealth Campsite
Frosty-Pack
A cold morning.  It was 31 degrees.
Colliers-Station
Historic trivia along the path

We skulked out of camp early the next morning and headed over the two-mile climb down to the Ohio River where we stopped at a cafe for breakfast.  To our dismay, we discovered that Cafés in WV are gambling establishments with poker machines and no food.  Now we know!

Stone-Tunnel

With not much food in our bellies, we continued down the bike path to Wheeling, WV where the absence of people immediately struck us. It felt as though we were in a post-apocalyptic town. Despite that, a rest day was in order, and Wheeling WV was the place.  We booked a room in the once grand McClure Hotel where presidents have stayed.  The locals told us about the town’s history over a few beers.  It turns out that Wheeling was once a vibrant town before its industry fell on hard times — not an uncommon story.

Drying-Out
Drying out at the McClure Hotel
Historic-Wheeling-Bridge
Historic Bridge at Wheeling, WV
Zanesville-Courthouse
Jeff in front of Zanesville Courthouse

After our much-needed rest day, we left Wheeling and started climbing the tough, steep hills of eastern Ohio. Did I mention more rain? The forecast called for days of rain, yet we managed to dodge most of it.  Just as we rolled into our home for the night in Senecaville Lake Marina Campground, the rains moved in.  Fortunately, we were nice and dry under a covered restaurant deck, enjoying dinner and beer.  When it was time to pay the check, our server told us that our bill was paid!  Apparently, a nearby table overheard us talking about our adventure, picked up our tab and left without saying a thing.  We couldn’t even thank them.

Dinner-on-the-Lake
We got a great view as well as a free dinner!

The steep hills continued – so steep that we had to walk our bikes up the steepest portions of a few climbs. As the hills became less steep, the rain became more steady. There’s always something when you’re bike touring.  As we sat in a restaurant, on the verge of hypothermia, contemplating a wet Campground, we decided to rent a small cabin at Buckeye Lake.  Good call!  We blasted all three heaters until the chill was gone. The weather was good for the next few days, so we put in some long days and took advantage of Ohio’s very nice state parks — Deer Creek, Caesar’s Creek and Hueston Woods. We woke up on Wednesday morning and crossed the state line into Indiana! Goodbye Ohio.

Kamper-Kabin
KOA Kozy Kabin – Note the pooling water around it!

Tobacco-Ads

Rainbow-over-trees

Heaven-on-Earth
Heaven on Earth is private — Figures!