Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Day 3 - Paved Paradise

After such an incredible ride with Steve yesterday, it felt like Dad and I were missing a riding buddy as we set off for day three of our tour. We’d be traveling south for the first time heading down 83 towards the Wills Creek area which according to the article provided the riders with less gravel, more dirt worthy roads. The air was once again crisp and the sky was still a little overcast but the weather forecast promised us much warmer temps and sunny skies by the late morning. Dad and I were both admittedly exhausted and promised one another we would not hesitate to speak up if we were feeling too tired to complete the entire route.

Turning right off of 83 into the Wills Creek area we were off the pavement once again and on to perfect gravel roads. They had clearly gotten some rain in the past few days as these roads were much less dusty and considerably smoother. I had my first hiccup on the bike as I was coming around a wide bend and my rear tire washed out from underneath me. It was a scary split second as I corrected and thankfully did not put the bike down, but I slowed my speed and got my focus in check.

The Wills Creek area was an apparent maze of well-maintained gravel roads forking off in all directions. I am pleased to say the GPS worked flawlessly all day and took us thru this area with perfect turn-by-turn directions. Unfortunately, however, it seems the abandoned road, which provided the riders of the article with mud puddles and other fun dirt obstacles, was not included in the downloadable maps and when we reached the town of Adamsville we wondered how we had missed it. I am hoping we’ll be able to reach Steve before we take off tomorrow as the last route looks rather short and I think we could add Wills Creek back in without adding on much mileage. It was probably for the best however as our tired brains and aching bones might not have fared so well on more challenging terrain.

In Adamsville, Dad stopped to take some photos of the charming post office and I went a block ahead to the gas station to try and get some tissues. I have been nursing an annoying cold since we arrived in Coshocton and the dust I was breathing following Dad was not helping matters. I purchased some antihistamine hoping to dry out a bit and we continued on down the road. This was easily the longest stretch we had done continuously on pavement as once we left Wills Creek we didn’t see dirt again for what felt like 50 miles. Even so it was a beautiful section of well-paved, empty roads along sprawling farms and winding rivers. The traffic was so sparse we stopped once in the middle of the road to watch a group of turkey vultures feeding on road kill and never saw a vehicle coming in either direction. I’m not sure if it was ominous or ironic that this road happened to be State Road 666 but either way it was exciting watching these large birds circle their breakfast.

Past Dresden we stopped along a back road for a “woods” break and I checked my phone and unbelievably had a signal for the first time in 3 days. I decided to take the opportunity to call home and spoke to my mom very briefly as the signal was quite weak. Let me inform anyone interested in doing this trip that there is zero AT&T coverage in and around Coshocton. The hotel thankfully has free wi-fi which has allowed us to video chat back home from the room each night.

Finally we found some more dirt on what appeared to be some government controlled land as there were plenty of small dirt roads darting off from the main artery but each was locked with a large orange gate. We stopped on the top of a beautiful hill next to the Airy View Orchard, which may have been mentioned in the article and took some picturesque, bike-next-to-tree photos before heading down into Frazeysburg to find some lunch. I asked a nice local fella if he knew of a good hometown establishment and he said the only one is only open for breakfast and closed a few minutes prior to our arrival. We were both too hungry to drive on and went to Subway.
It’s funny how these things have a way of working out as the guy working in Subway made a wise crack to me about Dad, who was spending too much effort parking his bike right next to the restaurant so it could be in the shade. Something about “It’s really important that KTM’s don’t get any unnecessary sunlight.” I’m pretty sure he was the owner of the franchise and he ended up talking to Dad and me about riding our entire meal, and all joking aside was a super nice guy. It’s always great to meet nice, friendly people in these small towns we ride thru and Subway seems to be as good a place as any.

I admitted to Dad after lunch that I was really feeling tired and we decided to play it by ear and cut the trip short if necessary. This last section took us back into Coshocton County and onto the endless gravel county and township roads. This area of the county was decidedly less hilly and the roads would at times stretch miles into the horizon. Normally I wouldn’t care much for boring straight roads, but these were like a child’s roller coaster with small knolls that would give you an expansive view and then drop you down for 100 yards before another short climb. It was fun to punch the bike up the knoll and let it coast down the other side. The gravel here was made up of slightly larger stones however and Dad and I were both struggling a bit with the front end of our bikes squirreling around.

Before long, to our surprise, we found ourselves approaching the Warsaw town square where we met Steve yesterday morning and knew the hotel was thankfully 10 short miles away. After hosing down the bikes and taking a look at the days pictures we got in the car and drove over to the historic Roscoe Village where we had dinner last night. I wanted to check out the shops and walk up and down the block looking at the old brick buildings. In many respects it reminded me of Old Salem in Winston Salem, NC. Even though most everything was closed, you could tell this was a destination for school groups to come and learn about how things were done in the mid-1800’s. There was a candle maker, and woodworker and other shops and professions fitting of the time period. Honestly we were both too tired to really build up any enthusiasm and thought it best to go to the Sports Zone and have dinner.

Steve recommended the Sports Zone and said he ate there with the Road Runner group twice during the initial tour. We had the fried pretzel bites and Dad ordered the meatloaf and I ordered the open-faced roast beef (a popular dish in this area it seems.) The waitress warned Dad that the meatloaf could feed an army but little did we know the plate could have been featured on Food Networks Man Vs. Food. The plate was an enormous 5 layered monstrosity with a piece of Texas toast on the bottom followed by two stacks of thick, deep fried potato cakes and slices of meatloaf. Dad came just a few bites away from finishing it and if there had been a t-shirt involved for it’s completion he probably would have had no problem polishing it off.

I’m looking forward to another good nights sleep to rest up and be ready for what every tomorrow brings. Sweet dreams.

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