Today was one of those high challenge days that you seem to run into every so often on a long bike trip. It wasn’t the mileage- 60 and change/ about 110 kilometers. It wasn’t the hills, as there pretty much were none. It wasn’t even being routed onto a non-existent bike path, as I was able to recover from that without having gone too far out of my way.
Nope, none of those things. It was the heat and a pretty much relentless sun. My weather app said low 90s- “feels like 99” (33 and 37 respectively for my Celsius friends). I wish. It was hotter than… well, you get the picture.
I left the Kanauga Super 8 Motel and Bike Wash late in the morning- around 11 as I had some minor repairs and adjustments to make to the bike and gear.
I figured, anticipating the heat, that it might be cooler to ride late in the afternoon in any event.
Not far into what remained of the morning I ran into the aforementioned problem with the bike path.
It was supposed to go on for a few more miles- at least that’s what my route planner said. It didn’t, so I had to work my way out to the main road south and regroup from there.
I rode through Gallipolis, Ohio- a little gem of a river town.
I’m not writing a travelogue here; I have other things to do after all, but if you find yourself in this area Gallipolis is well worth a stop and a look around. I stopped at a local barbershop for a haircut and was treated like a celebrity.
South of Gallipolis Ohio State Route 7 wound along the river through some very scenic rural countryside.
The river wasn’t all that often in view but, when it was, the views were stunning.
A couple of times I was able to ride on old stretches of Ohio State Route 7. These often afforded the nicest views of the river.
A lock and dam also made the day interesting.
Since the Ohio isn’t near as busy an artery of commerce as the Mississippi, I tended to forget that the river has been made navigable its entire length.
What a boat trip that would be!
It got hot. It got hotter. The sun was like riding inside a blast furnace. I knew I wasn’t riding my usual 10 mile/16 kilometer an hour pace, but given the trouble I’ve had in the past with heat exhaustion I wasn’t going to push things. And, I will never complain about a light breeze in my face again. That moving air was about all that made the temperature bearable.
There is pretty much nothing business-wise along this stretch of road.
I found an ice cream shop next to a gas station and bought a soft-serve cone, but since it didn’t even come close to the Mother of All Cones I had the other day I didn’t even bother with a photo. I think it was melting faster than I could eat it- I wound up drinking about half of it.
Huntington finally appeared across the river. I spent about 45 minutes in a McDonald’s on the Ohio side drinking fountain Coke after fountain Coke, getting rehydrated with something ice cold. I carry a three liter Osprey water pack and it was dry, and that was after having it refilled at the ice cream place.
The sun was headed off into the west as I crossed the Ohio
into West Virginia for the last time of the trip.
I’ve made it fairly plain elsewhere in this blog that I’m not much of a fan of cable-stayed bridges. This was one of the better ones.
I rode through downtown Huntington, home of Marshall University,
and then on through several miles/kilometers of little industrial towns along the river.
I turned a corner and I was crossing the Big Sandy River into Kentucky.
Good-bye West Virginia. Four states now in the rear-view mirror.
It was coming on dusk as I pedaled the last few miles/kilometers into Ashland, Kentucky
and the home of my very gracious Warmshowers host Keith and Cynthia. I spent a very comfortable night and had a nice opportunity to chat with both of them- avid long-distance cyclists themselves- about our various experiences on the road.