Day 51: St. Clairesville, OH to New Stanton, PA- 87.22 miles, Total 3195.4 miles
This morning was a first on the trip. We shared the continental breakfast area with a bunch of pro racers. The same motorcycle racing event this weekend that the Olive Garden guy mentioned. Though, as we found out at dinner last night (from our new humble friend Brian), “quads” are also racing the event. Though, I’d imagine the racers, mechanics and whoever else was present were probably more curious about us in our matching Rapha kits. What, who doesn’t show up to breakfast in their kit?
Clothing aside, Edie and I proudly made it out the door by 8:30. With a three state venture ahead of us today, we wanted as much time as possible. Especially with our uncertainty regarding the days terrain. We anticipated the hills would kick up again, and we’d be doing some more climbing.
It didn’t take long to prove our theory correct. We swooped down the driveway and back onto the road we can’t seem to shake, Route 40. As soon as our descent was over, it was back up. Repeat and throw in a few downtown areas and you basically have our first 20 miles. By this time, however, we traveled out of Ohio into West Virginia and, finally, Pennsylvania.
We crossed paths with a tricky bridge in West Virginia. I have a strict aversion to heights- subcategory: bridges. I usually deal with them by going painfully slow in hopes I’ll adjust during that time. Edie likes to get them over with, so when she yelled for me to hurry up this morning I shouldn’t have been surprised. The bridge merged Route 40 with Interstate 70 and had a sign prohibiting cyclists, so I could see why urgency was on Edie’s mind.
We did get to climb a monster hill in historic Wheeling (home of some truly amazing houses). The grade must have been 12-15%, though that became a common theme for the day. Especially once we hit the S Route in Pennsylvania. It began on Route 40 and then wove us all over creation, mainly up and down. It became one of those days when you begin to yell “why” or various profanities aloud. The route was well marked and did contain some picturesque roads here and there (including a great park), but direct it was not.
Edie and I began to panic at our 4pm lunch. We wouldn’t get to the town we hoped, the Fairfield Inn was sold out (we have free stays there), and the S Route would take us on an indirect route to a series of small, hotel-less towns. Google walking maps? Yes, please.
Our research landed us on New Stanton. They had hotels (though we couldn’t use points) and within a 20 mile radius. Our panic turned to a determination as we set off on a now direct route. Sadly direct doesn’t always mean easy. We faced three of the hardest climbs of the day. As a local put it we had some serious “sled pulling” to do. Pull we did, but managed to get in before dark and find ourselves on the scene of a wedding. It kind of makes me wish Edie and I got married at the Days Inn in New Stanton- classy.