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08/13/2007 Entry: "Mount Jewel, PA"
Folks, I have a long update to do so I'm going to have to be brief since it's in the middle of they day and I have lots of riding to do. Read well, little friends, because there have been some significant changes to our trip:
(I don't have time to proofread this to prepare to be horrified by my typos)
Shortly after MinWah finished her last entry we went about trying to find a place to say in Hartville. It looked like it was going to be difficult, but the weather was bad so we were determined. While the patrons of the library were hiding in the hallway from the tornado we all started talking and our story soon came out. A man heard our plight and after a bit of hooplah we had wrangled a place to stay with Sue and Mark who had biked to Boston before from Hartville on tandem recumbants with 3 of their 5 daughters back in 1999. After a short ride in the rain we found their house and were treated to great company and food. It was a wondeful night, and we all stayed up too late. Sue escorted us out the next morning on her rocket titanium body socked recumbent for the first 7ish miles of our ride.
Hartville, Oh to New Castle, PA (70 miles)
We all ended up taking the same route that day. We had a pretty uneventful ride until Lowellville. Some hills, some traffic, whatever. At Lowellville (which was around mile 50ish) we knew there was a bike trial that would take us to New Castle, PA. We stopped to ask directions and met a wondeful shop owner who gave us free drinks, food, etc. They were so friendly that we almost stayed with them, but we needed to put more miles under our belt. As we were leaving I got a flat tire and noticed that my Armadillo tire had finally shredded off it's tread. We patched that and rode around for awhile trying to find the bike trail. It took us forever and people all gave us conflicting directions. Eventually we found it and road into New Castle on a very badly maintained but beautiful bike trail. When it ended were were suddenly in the Appalacian foothills. It was like going through some kind of warp. We started on flat, followed a flat bike trail, and then suddenly we were in the mountains.
We stayed behind a church in New Castle in a picnic shelter and were treated to a coffee and great company/route advice by the neighbors next door.
Hartville, PA to Polk, PA (60 miles)
That morning we had the good company and breakfast as mentioned earlier, and mapped out a good route across PA. Karen, however, was having knee issues and spent most of the night and morning trying to decide whether to ride the route with us or take a flat bike trail from pittsburg to Washington DC instead. Either way her Dad agreed to carry her stuff as a support vehicle since her knees were hurting to bad. It was a hard decision to make, but that morning she decided to leave the group and bike 40 miles southeast to the head of the trail. As of last night (the 12th) she only had 3 days left of riding. Hopefully she'll post here soon and tell you all of her adventures.
The rest of us, wanting to take a more adventerous route and since we had business in Boston, headed northeast towards the Allegheny river valley. We got a real late start due to the decision making that morning and rolled into the small town of Polk just 60ish miles later at around 6-7pm. We asked at a local shop if they knew someone who we could ask about staying in their park and they directed us to Jim Miller, the owner of the shop and president of the town council. Turns out he and the Pine Valley Boys were having a bluegrass concert in their backyard that night and we were invited to stay and camp. We stayed up late listening to bluegrass and trading stories. It seemed perfectly PA.
Polk to Warren, PA (70 miles)
We started the day by climbing out of Polk and finding a 10 mile bike trail to get us through the busy town of Franklin and Oil City. Then we found the river (finally) and promptly climbed back out of the valley, and then decended back down into it, and then we did that again. It was annoying. Eventually we finally began to travel along the river and had a beautiful ride on a road with a great shoulder. 70 mile later we were in Warren looking for a place to stay. During the ride we did have some adventure, however. I had my other spare tire mostly destroy itself leaving me with 1 patch left, and barely holding together tire, and in desperate need of a bike shop. WinWah decided to leave the busier shoulder road to try out a less busy road on the other side of the river. That road unfortunately turned to 15 miles of dirt and hills with no bridge to let her back over the river. Ariel's shifting became so bad that her bike would be better used for a paperweight than riding, and gave her a very frusterating ride.
Due to all this we got into Warren a bit late. We grabbed a bite to eat at Subway because we were low on time and flagged down a local cop to ask about any parks we could stay at. He directed us to one and told us he'd let the night shift know about us staying there. We arrived at dusk and had discovered TONS OF DUCKS AND DUCKLINGS were sharing the same spot. We fed them for awhile (by hand! see picture gallery!) and then decided it was sleep time once the ducks started trying to eat my legs and toes.
Then, while laying on my sleeping bag reading the paper a frog jumped into my pants. It just scampered up in the dark and crawled up my pant leg. It was a very strange and disturbing feeling.
Later, around midnight, we were woken up to two cops with flashlights. Apparently the cop we talked to had not told the night shift about us staying there, and we were almost kicked out. After a bit of talking we were told we could stay as long as we were on the road by 7:30. We complied.
Warren to Mount Jewel and then to wherever 25 miles from here is (60 miles)
That morning in Warren we needed a bike shop, bad. After a bit of searching we eventually found one but it didn't open 'til 9am. After a bit of breakfast and waiting were finally able to restock on tires, tubes, patchkits, handlebar tape, etc. Ariel got a new chain and rear cassette. She wanted to switch to friction shifting but they didn't have the parts, so she still is having major shifting problems. Hopefully she will be able to hold out for 10ish more days.
We didn't leave town until 11am and didn't arrive here, Mt. Jewel, until 3, 36 miles and a lunch stop later. The issue is the HILLS. We are definatly in mountain country and we've left the river valley. I still have miles to ride so I think this is the end of my entry today.
PA IS BEAUTIFUL and is like a decidious western oregon. It's quite nice, albiet hilly, riding here. The weather is also better.
Replies: Leave us a note! (5)
We've been reading your updates. Sounds like you are enjoying the trip and meeting all kinds of great folks across this country. Take care in your final few days of the ride, hope you have some cool dry days. Still HOT here in western Ohio.
Fred & Marcia
Posted by Fred & Marcia Pond @ 08/16/2007 03:01 PM CST
HI, Just checking in on you so I'll know what to tell others. Lot of people asking about how things are going. Nice article & picture in the paper, will send a copy.
Catch ya later. Phil & Charlene
Posted by Phil & Charlene @ 08/14/2007 07:29 PM CST
We were glad you visited with us in New Castle. Hope you are having a good trip. Sorry about Karen's knees. Hal knew the road on the other side of the river was a little rough. How do you like the Pa. hills? We wish we could have visited with you longer but didn't want to hold you back.
Posted by Hal & Rita @ 08/14/2007 12:15 PM CST
Great to have you in town and as backyard guest .Keep us posted on your journey. godspeed stop again.
jim & cathe miller polk pa
Posted by Jim Miller @ 08/14/2007 06:05 AM CST
DUCKS! QUAAAAAAAAAAACK!! I don't see why you didn't let them eat your toes, at least. But then, you never were very nice to waterfowl.
Deciduous trees are better than coniferous. It must be beautiful there.
I love you, stinkapoo!
Posted by wifey @ 08/13/2007 10:24 PM CST
Leave A Note! YAY! We are loved!