Last Monday I was more than a little disappointed that the bike’s mechanical problems prevented me from completing what I’d set out to do. To go through flat tires, thunderstorms, wilting heat, dehydration, construction, closed roads . . . and then to be thwarted 30 miles from home by a malfunctioning tire?
It stuck in my craw, I have to tell you.
I decided to finish the ride. To do that, I needed to get to where I was last Monday. In between Ashley and Marengo on County Road 165.
The best path to there would to be go up US 23, hang a right onto US 42, and then take the back roads to “The Scene Of The Crime.”
Have I mentioned how busy US 23 can be? Not for faint hearted bicyclists as you’re in the little 2 foot breakdown berm. You could literally reach our your hand and touch the passing cars. (Unless you’re just stupid you wouldn’t. But you could.)
The wind was against me the entire way there. The clouds were doing their most credible threat of rain in three days. (Weather.com had been calling for rain since Saturday and nary a drop has fallen yet.)
For all the traffic, US 23 is a safer road to ride on than US 42. 42 is a two lane road. The 24 inches of breakdown lane that you’re riding in are broken up, in bad repair, with plenty of glass, rocks, and other debris. This stuff forces you to ride in the road. Not an ideal solution.
I found my turnoffs from 42 and then it was a relatively short ride to County Road 165. Just because I could, I recorded the approach to The Scene Of The Crime. There’s a shot of my odometer. We’re right at 30 miles from the house moving a little more than 11 miles an hour.
I didn’t let the bike venture any further once I reached The Tire Killing Zone, i.e., Where The Wild Rocks Are.
As I take a long shot of the road itself, there’s a puddle towards the left side of the road. On that spot, a week ago, I’d been taking pictures of cows looking at me:
The ride back was uneventful — and much more pleasant than the ride up due solely to the wind being at my back. It’s amazing the difference the wind causes. On the way up, I was averaging less than 12 miles an hour against it. On the way back, with a tail wind, the average was closer to 18 miles an hour. I’d be happy for wind never to blow again when I’m on a bike and let me do 15 miles an hour.
Going back through Delaware I’d already ridden more than 40 miles. In long rides in the past, 20 to 25 is just about my limit before I need to stretch my legs and get off that bike.
But during this adventure I’ve found out something about myself that I didn’t know: I can go a lot further than I ever realized I could. For example, that 100 mile day I did, through the rain, the flat tires, and the like? That was only the second time I’d ever ridden more than 100 miles in a single day. I didn’t do any training for it — I just did it. And my body didn’t suffer for it, either.
Hell, there have been days when I feel like I should be sidelined after a 20 or 30 mile ride. Not this season. This seems to be the season my body and my bike are saying, “Just how far can you go?”
Anyway, when I got to Delaware I’d already topped 40 miles. I was getting pretty hungry at this point. There’s probably some law that says if you’re in downtown Delaware when it’s time for breakfast (it was 10:30 at this point) you have to stop in at The Hamburger Inn:
It’s the archetypical small-town diner. Complete with one set of counter seats manned by the Old Codgers. The retired guys who have nothing better to do than get up in the morning and start their day gossiping, talking about politics, farming, and flirting with the waitresses.
I ordered 3 eggs with American cheese, bacon, white toast, and some home fries. The cook obviously had a big grudge against Idaho and he was, by God, going to fry, for just ME, every potato that great state produces:
Couldn’t make it through the taters, but all of it was just delicious.
When I’ve let it be known that I have no problems with traveling on US 23, I get folks who look at me sideways and say, “Are you nuts? Aren’t you afraid of getting run over by those big ass trucks?”
I’ve never had as bad a day on US 23 as this guy did today:
On US 23 I’ve ridden all the way north to Marion and all the way south to Portsmouth:
View Marion To Portsmouth in a larger map
And in all that way, there’s really only one section of US 23 that’s ever given me concern. It’s the cloverleaf at the intersection of US 23 and Interstate 270:
The northbound side is almost as bad as the southbound side — and for the same reasons. On US 23 the speed limit for southbound traffic is 55 miles per hour. The speed limit on 270 is 65 miles per hour. 23 is a main road with trucks that are trying to get off of 23 and onto the interstate. Approximately 136,000 cars a day go through this cloverleaf. (That’s not an exaggeration.)
I’ve marked with red arrows the problem spots. Heading southbound the first thing you have to deal with is cars wanting to leave 23 and go west on 270. Then you have to deal with cars coming off 270 W and wanting to go on 23 south. The third item are those cars wanting off 23 south to go 270 E. Finally, you get the cars coming from 270E to go on 23S. Cars and trucks moving highway speeds.
And about 1/4 mile before all of the interchange? The little 2 foot berm disappears completely. Plus the road is constantly torn up because of all the traffic. As a bicyclist, you’re IN THE TRAFFIC — and that’s not a good place to be. You won’t ever win a contest against a 40,000 pound truck moving at 60 miles an hour. Hell, you won’t win against a Volkswagen moving at 60 miles an hour, either.
Constantly looking over your shoulder, tying your speed with the traffic bearing down on you, it’s like the most dangerous ballet in the world trying to get through here without . . . well, let’s let Mr. Miyagi say what would happen:
I pulled up to the house at around 12:15 or so. Total trip miles: 329.98 (even if it was spread out over 2 weekends.)