So far we are both enjoying West Virginia. There are plenty of ups and downs, which keep things interesting.
This morning we filled up at the continental breakfast and used the hotel computer before resuming our journey. The first 20 miles were on the West Fork Trail, which was our favorite bike path so far.
Today marks the first day we rode into a state neither of us has ever been to before: West Virginia. And trust us – you can’t swing a dead cat in New York or Pennsylvania without hitting someone who will suggest that we ride should through Ohio rather than West Virginia to avoid the hills. One wise man even told us that West Virginia would be larger than Texas if you flattened out all of the hills.
Nevertheless, we woke in the morning with our sights set on crossing the West Virginia state border.
Getting out of Pittsburgh was just as hard as we imagined it would be. It was hot, humid, and we were plagued by steep hills and busy roads with no shoulder. Ironically, we mailed a number of random items home this morning, one of which was Rachel’s inhaler. Shortly afterward, we encountered a steep hill with no shoulder, which made me wonder if sending it back was a mistake.
It took us about 15 miles to escape the urban sprawl, although it felt longer. Both of us were relieved to make it to this point, and, while we were pulled off to the side of the road planning our route, a few friendly strangers checked to see if we needed directions. One of these individuals was named Jim, and he said he saw us earlier in the day when he was driving the other way, and then drove back later to see how far we had made it. He proceeded to ask if he could do anything to help us, but we politely declined. When we told him that California was our destination, he assumed that we meant the nearby town in Pennsylvania and was blown away when we clarified.
The people that we have met have been very kind, except for the occasional hooligan flipping us the bird or yelling something unrecognizable as they motor past.
In the afternoon, the sky let loose with rain, thunder, and lightning. We took shelter underneath the porch of a vacant drive-through restaurant and got moving again once the storm calmed down.
It seems we’ve been spoiled by the absense of numerous daily climbs since the Adirondacks. Prior to leaving the ADK’s, the uphills were inevitable, so we stopped thinking about them and just rode. I can’t imagine we’ve gotten any weaker since then, so I think we must have lost the mental toughness we had established. Hopefully we can redevelop it before getting into the hills of West Virginia!