Plans Change: Onto Chicago
We learned not to trust Google Maps for biking in Ohio. We were so proud of ourselves for getting out of the hotel in St. Clairsville early. The 4th of July was a pleasant day to bike. Sunny with a light breeze. Our maps took us mostly in gravel roads. Yet the scenery was wonderful, and the traffic was gone. A bit hiller than the towpath, but doable. Then, we came through the town of Barnesville, Ohio. We had a quick down followed by a steeper up. As we tried to power up the hill, our chain and derailer broke. It may have been Independence Day, but we learned to be dependent on others.
First, we called the Warmshowers in Wheeling that is located in a church basement. He was out of town, so he called a friend. Corey could pick us up and haul us back to Wheeling, but not until 2:00. So we sat in the shade of a tree, then the barns, and read out books. In the meantime, three brothers were baling a field of hay using the driveway next to where we were sitting. One enjoyed visiting with us until he had to rake the hay. The oldest brother (now retired) brought us sloppy joes, chips and drinks for lunch. We watched them rake, bale and haul the entire field.
Finally, Corey showed up and hauled us back to Wheeling, and we waited an hour for John to show up. He let us stay in the church and showed us his free bike shop. Here, they collect unwanted bikes, and either restore them or take their parts for other bikes. These are then donated to the homeless or children. We spent the evening of the 4th in the park listening to the Wheeling Symphony and watching fireworks launched from a barge on the Ohio River.
The next morning, John took us to the local bike shop before hours to get the new chain and derailer. Then, he hauled us 35 miles to the exact spot we had broken down so we could continue our ride. We should have asked him for the right route to take. Instead, we were on steep dirt roads for 15 miles. Finally we found a small town, asked directions and made better time. The bike was still not right. So, we stopped at another local bike shop and got a new cassette (the rear gears) and the bike is running fine.
As of today, we have biked about 940 miles and are in Brookville, Ohio (a bit northwest of Dayton). Most of our ride thus far has been on rails to trails, or dedicated bike paths. We were going from Columbus, Ohio to Cincinnati then onto St. Louis to connect with the Katy Trail. We realized going that route would add 150 miles and over 2,500 feet of elevation. So, in Xenia, Ohio we turned toward Indianapolis. Now we have learned the weather is turning hot next week in Missouri, so we again have changed our route to go just south of Chicago. This gives us the opportunity to stay with friends in Ottawa, Illinois.
Though the plans change, we are having a great trip: meeting new people, seeing new places and enjoying the slower pace of life. We have had a couple 70+ mile riding days and are looking forward to keeping it at 60 or under. In the rain, today we decided a 35-mile day and afternoon in the hotel was needed for a mental break. Tomorrow we head northwest toward Chicago.