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  • Writer's pictureAl S.

There is Something Wrong With Ohio - Weirton, WV to Dayton, OH

Updated: Jan 24, 2023



From Weirton, WV I cut west and followed a system of rail trails across Ohio. My goal was to reach Dayton, OH. The hills of eastern Ohio were a challenge, but once I was on the rail trails, it was smooth sailing. The bigger issue was dealing with some of the people that inhabit the rural areas of the Buckeye State.



 


May 23

Mileage: 72.0 miles

Odometer Start: 2448.2

Odometer End: 2520.2

Avg Speed: 10.6 mph

Max Speed: 41.2 mph

Riding Time: 6 hrs, 46 mins

PA / WV State Line on The Panhandle Trail to New Philadelphia, OH




The PA / WV State Line on The Panhandle Rail Trail

I crossed into WV first thing this morning. I was only camped about a mile from the PA/WV state line, so I reached the 5th state on this journey within 10 minutes of leaving my campsite. The Panhandle Trail is another rail trail, so the state line was marked with the original post installed when the railroad was built.














The bridge across the Ohio River from Weirton, WV to Steubenville, OH.

I crossed the Ohio River (also the WV / OH state line) between Weirton, WV and Steubenville, OH. If you have never been to Steubenville, then you should consider yourself fortunate. Steubenville is having a rough time at the moment. The area is obviously plagued with meth/opioids, most of the storefronts are boarded up, and it appears that the only remaining residents are people who have no place else to go.





The trailhead for the Conotton Creek Trail in Jewett, OH.

I was riding on the road for about 25 miles until I reached The Conotton Rail Trail that begins in Jewett, OH. This trail only runs about 10 miles until it ends in Bowerston, OH. At home, a 10 mile bike trail sounds like a nice long ride... 10 miles out, 10 miles back for a decent 20 mile ride. When you are touring a long distance, a 10 mile section of bike trail is barely noticeable. You might spend 45 minutes covering this distance. One quickly begins looking at bike routes a bit differently when you are covering multiple states. No mistake, I was always appreciative when a bike trail or bike lane was available, but there were only 9 days of this 75 day trip where the bike trails were sufficiently long that I did not have to spend some time sharing the road with cars.


This day was the end of the first week since I left Baltimore. I rode a bit further than I originally intended and I found myself in New Philadelphia, OH. The hills of eastern Ohio were brutal. At one point, I found myself on a gravel road going straight up a mountain. The grade was so steep that I eventually had to get off and push the bike. I was worn out by the time I reached New Philadelphia late in the afternoon. I decided to get a hotel room for the night... a bed and a shower sounded like a really good idea. Plus, I took this opportunity to do laundry for the first time since Baltimore. After 7 days of riding, the 3 t-shirts I carried had reached their sell-by date.


 

May 24

Mileage: 59.4 miles

Odometer End: 2580.0

Avg Speed: 11.5 mph

Max Speed: 37.0 mph

Riding Time: 5 hrs, 09 mins

New Philadelphia, OH to Howard, OH



I got an early start out of New Philadelphia and headed west. I started out on some small rural roads until I reached Ohio State Route 39. This road had nice wide shoulders and wasn't carrying too much traffic. The best part was that it had a very moderate incline to get up and over the hills.


The Bridge of Dreams on The Mohican Valley Rail Trail near Brinkhaven, OH.

Another benefit of Rt 39 is that it cuts through the middle of Ohio Amish country. As most people are aware, if you have Amish, you will also have Amish markets. I stopped for lunch at a market and was able to get a nice big sandwich and container of pre-cut fruit. It really hit the spot. Astoundingly, there were no pretzels on offer. I love me an Amish pretzel, but I guess the Pennsylvania Amish community has not shared the recipe with their western brethren.



At one point during the day, I was huffing along at a decent clip of 13 to 15 mph down Rt 39. I was suddenly passed by someone on a bike. They were really moving, didn't give me any warning, and really took me by surprise. I would guess they were traveling 25+ mph. After my brain had a second to process what was happening, I realized that the person that had just blown past me was a little old Amish lady. After another second, I realized that she was riding an e-bike. Apparently, the Amish in Ohio are allowed to ride e-bikes and they appear to make good use of them.


I made my way to Millersburg, OH where I was able to pick up the Holmes County Rail Trail. This trail is part of "The Buckeye Trail" which is a bike trail currently under development and will stretch from Cincinnati/Dayton all the way across Ohio to Cleveland. There are still some gaps, but I was mostly on a bike trail from Millersburg all the way to Dayton.


As the Holmes County Trail leaves Glenmont, OH, it climbs a significant hill until it reaches the top of the ridge at Rt 75. The hill was long, but it was "railroad grade" which means it was never more than about a 2% grade. That is very manageable on a bike. From Rt 75, the trail is all downhill until Brinkhaven, OH. It is quite a fun ride due to the 4+ mile downhill. You almost don't have to pedal. There is a sign at the top that provides details about the operation of the railroad at this location. Apparently, the grade was sufficiently steep that trains needed a locomotive in the front to pull the train and a "pusher" locomotive on the back to get the freight cars up over the ridge.



A 0-6-0 Switcher Locomotive on the Kokosing Gap Trail in Gambier, OH.

At one point during the day, I ran into a group of cyclists that were headed in my direction. We stopped and spoke for a few minutes. They were very interested when I told them I started in Baltimore and was headed across the country. They eventually asked where I planned to hit the west coast. I explained that I was headed for Seattle and then over to the Pacific. They were aghast that I was headed for Seattle... not because of how far away it was, but because "you know, Seattle is completely lawless, don't you"? Ok. Thanks for that insight. Maybe stop watching Fox News or OAN, or whatever social media is warping your brain.


I reached Howard, OH on the Kokosing Gap Rail Trail late in the afternoon and started scoping out places to camp near the small park where the trail passes through the town. There were several riders that stopped to talk to me, one small group were board members of the organization that manages the trail. I asked them about good places to camp and they informed me that technically camping was not allowed at this park, but the organization that manages the trail looks the other way because they like having bikers stop at the town. That was all I needed, I set up camp at the far end of the park and got a great night of sleep.



 

May 25

Mileage: 78.4 miles

Odometer End: 2658.6

Avg Speed: 12.0 mph

Max Speed: 26.1 mph

Riding Time: 6 hrs, 29 mins

Howard, OH to Georgesville, OH



The Dog Fountain on Main St in Mt. Vernon, OH.

I followed the Mohican Valley Rail Trail into Mt. Vernon, OH and found a little spot for breakfast. Nothing beats a good breakfast when you are riding long distances. There was also this cool dog fountain shown in the attached picture in the middle of main street.







As I was leaving Mt. Vernon, I got back onto the Kokosing Gap Trail and headed for Columbus, OH. Almost immediately, another cyclist caught up to me since my bike is loaded with 50+ pounds of touring/camping gear and he was on a road bike. We were talking for a bit and I learned way more about him than I wanted. This guy was 79 years old and was definitely in good shape and a strong rider. He ended up riding with me for almost 20 miles. It is almost physically painful to type in all of the nonsense this guy believed, regardless, I am going to list the highlights that I wrote down after he turned around and left me on my own:


  • First, Dr. Fauci has no idea what he is talking about. He has been wrong so often about so many things that he might as well be ignored.

  • It is pretty clear that wearing a mask causes you to breathe in a lot of carbon dioxide. This trapped carbon dioxide causes lung cancer, so you are far better off not wearing a mask.

  • There is a local doctor that has been curing people of COVID with a nebulizer that has been juiced with hydrogen peroxide. You just breath this vapor and your COVID symptoms will magically disappear.

  • Finally, he asserted that he knows several people that have cured themselves of cancer with some homemade tonic that was so ridiculous that I couldn't even remember the ingredients by the time I stopped to make some notes.

By the time this guy turned around, I was just flabbergasted. Between this guy and the multiple comments about a lawless Seattle that I had heard on previous days, I could not help but ask myself "What the hell is wrong with Ohio"?


The spot in Columbus, OH where I hit the 1000 mile mark for this journey.

I rode through Columbus with no problems. There are bike trails that go all the way through the city. That really makes getting across these large urban areas a lot easier. The most notable thing about Columbus is that I hit the 1000 mile mark for this journey in the middle of the city.


I finished the day just east of Georgesville, OH on the Camp Chase Rail Trail. I found a little spot on the side of the trail that made a good campsite for the evening and got some well-deserved rest.





 

May 26

Mileage: 62.5 miles

Odometer End: 2721.1

Avg Speed: 12.2 mph

Max Speed: 29.0 mph

Riding Time: 5 hrs, 06 mins

Georgesville, OH to Dayton, OH


There was rain in the forecast for the afternoon, so I made a point of getting on the road early. Also, my campsite last night wasn't exactly 100% legal, so I didn't want to linger and draw the ire of any nearby residents that might be out for an early morning walk.



The Xenia Station at the junction of the Prarie Grass & Creekside Rail Trails.

The Camp Chase Rail Trail ended a bit east of London, OH. I picked up the Roberts Pass Trail into London, and then the Prairie Grass Rail Trail all the way to Xenia, OH. I rode the Creekside Rail Trail from Xenia all the way to Dayton, OH.










Xenia, OH... I am tantalizingly close to Dayton and my first day off.

The total distance from Georgesville to Dayton was 62 miles. I had already covered 40 miles by the time I reached Xenia. I had managed to avoid the rain up until this point. However, I took a look at the weather radar on my phone and it was pretty obvious that I was going to be getting wet in a very short order.


In fact, I rode the last 10+ miles in a torrential downpour. It wasn't a terrible experience because it was a decent temperature and I was also pumping hard trying to get to my destination.


The most difficult part of the experience was trying to navigate through Dayton. There are a lot of turns and short distances when you are riding through a city. That means that you need to keep checking the navigation app on your phone for directions. The torrential rain eventually made this really difficult because the screen of an iPhone does not like to respond to wet fingers. I eventually had to stop and ask a guy at a used car dealership for a paper towel. Once my fingers and the phone's screen were sufficiently dry, I was able to get the navigation app to respond to my commands.


I wish I had a picture of myself when I arrived at the hotel. I was in my room and getting cleaned up by 2:30 in the afternoon, but I know that when I walked into the hotel lobby I looked like a drowned rat and smelled like a wet dog.



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