Miles to Date: 1,343
May 28, 2015 – Sun, 75 degrees
My warmshowers host, Simon, got up early, made thick oatmeal with nuts, yogurt and honey, and rode with me down the hilly streets of Pittsburgh to the Hot Metal Bridge, now a bike path across the Monongahela River. I proceeded along the Southside bicycle path with sweeping views of the early morning city to beyond the where the Allegheny and Monongahela merge to create the Ohio River. I passed back across the West Side Bridge, rode through the Manchester neighborhood, crossed back on the McKees Rock Bridge and took 51 North. Pittsburgh is all about bridges.
I diverted onto Neville Island, a long strip in the middle of the Ohio River that includes miles of active industry, from a cracking plant to manufacturing concerns that have flipped over to recycling enterprises. The north part of the island includes a town where residents have tight to the Ohio River.
The Ohio River actually runs north for about 25 miles out of Pittsburgh. 51 North follows the west bank; with the narrow shoulders and brusque drivers I have learned to endure in Pennsylvania. Its not that they dislike me so much as they wish this small, slow, yellow thing on the road would simply disappear. I navigate even more bridges around Monaca, Rochester and Bridgewater, and then begin the steady climb out of the valley onto high ground.
After forty miles, I pulled into a McDonalds in Chippewa for a Diet Coke and Wi-Fi break, where I met the loquacious Ed Morton and his quiet wife Crystal. Ed, a 40 year stock clerk for US Air, wanted to know all about the trip, invited me to sit with them and offered to buy me lunch, which I declined. When they finished their meal, I stood to shake Ed’s hand. He grabbed my shoulder for, dropped his hand into mine, reached for his wife, and led the three of us in a prayer circle in the McDonald’s dining room. After his “Amen”, he handed me a pamphlet, The Seven Words of the Cross. I am on the road to meet whoever crosses my path, and I am grateful for their goodwill, however expressed.
Beyond Chippewa the land started to flatten out and I knew Ohio was not far away. My directions required a turnoff just before the state line. Turns after landmarks are so much easier. I knew I missed it when I came upon Welcome to Ohio. Cyclists don’t like to turn around; guys really don’t like to turn around. Just beyond the sign was a narrow road with a sign State Line Road. I recalled my high school history of the Western Reserve and its careful survey. I decided the road probably ran north along the state line and decided to test history. The road was rocky, but never went to fully dirt. After four miles, with a quick jog at the end; I connected to the country road I had missed, which allowed me to pass another Welcome to Ohio.
The rest of the afternoon was a breeze. I enjoyed a large dipped cone at Dairy Queen and arrived in Poland, a bucolic town, before time. I spent an hour in their gorgeous library and chatted to locals about tomorrow. Missy and Bill, my warmshowers hosts, prepared a tasty picnic and I played tag with their son Ash in the backyard.