Sunday, September 13, 2015

An Ode to Ohio

Side note - On the day I left on my trip Margo Lynn caught me at breakfast and had me model a knit hat for this Mountain Man competition.  It looks like I'm climbing in the polls, but need your votes to reach the top.  Any winnings will go to BiCi Co.  You can vote once a day for the next week.  Just "skip" the initial pop up and vote for the guy that looks like the photo below.  The theme is fitting as I'm a day away from riding across West Virginia to Pittsburgh.  Ouch.

Vote early and often for your favorite mountain man.
After suffering through Kentucky, the Ohio River Valley route has been a dream.   Starting in Cincinnati through this morning in Portsmouth, Ohio I was almost entirely on route 52.  I was a bit worried that the route would be busy with truck traffic and repeat the Kentucky experience, but I've been pleasantly surprised.  Most of the mileage has had a comfortably sized shoulder allowing me an informal bike lane.  The drivers, car and truck, have been courteous and are passing at a comfortable distance.  Hard to believe that just across the river in Kentucky you'll find a backwards third world nation state of dangerous rednecks.  Don't go there.

A lot of my Ohio River Valley riding looks like this.
I heard that the Ohio DOT has been making strides in Complete Streets design that started when the director from Columbus moved up to the state DOT.  I can believe it.  The Ohio to Erie route from Northeast Ohio to the Southwest Ohio corner was amazing, with much of it on paved multi-use paths.  Even this southern state route 52 hugging the Ohio River is a pleasant ride.  Ohio is rightfully ranked 19th for bike friendliness, leaps and bounds ahead of Kentucky (49th).  Check out the Ohio DOT website for bicycle route information.  Ohio also has 12 bicycle region coordinators identified on their website.  For comparison, only one person on the Connecticut DOT has this role.

Portsmouth is a bike friendly landing spot for lunch after my stealth camp last night off a steep logging road in the Shawnee State Forest.  Portsmouth is an early stop on the TOSRV ride, and they have a large bike mural on the flood wall.  In fact, the entire flood wall is adorned with high quality murals.  A neat little town.
TOSRV mural on the Portsmouth, OH flood wall
Even in the Pea Soup fog, drivers have been courteous in Ohio.
This goes to show that it's about leadership.  A city and state with leaders that appreciate sustainable transportation can really improve things.  Keep this in mind when you're voting.  What are the candidates saying about transportation, biking, walking, and transit?  We spend a lot of time and resources getting from point A-to-B, so our elected leaders should be up to speed on the topic.  If they look at you like you're speaking French when you talk about Complete Streets, they shouldn't be in charge.

U.S. Grant whupped up on the Confederates.  Hooahh! Y'all lost.
Unfortunately, Utopia was a failed experiment.
Sometimes you find your camp spots in the most curious locations.  You might stay in a national forest campground, like the Vesuvius Recreation Area.   Other times you may be in a riverside city park in the ghost town of Cheshire, OH.  The local power plant bought up all the homes and businesses and tore most of them down to prevent future law suits against the coal fired plant in their backyard.   The funny part is, most of the mercury and pollution heads downwind.  Can these power plants buy off the entire Northeast?

Historic hot blast furnace at Vesuvius.  Coal and ore in them there hills.
Cheshire, OH.  View from my camp at the local park.
Entering Pomeroy, OH.  Creative treatment of a concrete retaining wall.
Bridge from Pomeroy to West Virginia - worth a stop.

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