Day 3 of our tour took our team from Belpre Oh. to Bridgeport W.V. We started the morning by receiving prayer from the Pastor at the Celebration Center before we hit the road. I volunteered to run sweep with one of my team leaders, Emily Gray, sweep is when you ride at the end of the pack of everyone to ensure that all of the team are okay and don’t get left behind as well as helping with flat tires/repairs. Emily, Tom and I started out and since Belpre is on the river across from Parkersburg W.V. we started our ride by cycling over the bridge into W.V. We got lost in Parkersburg’s historic district which was full of 100-200 year old beautiful mansions. We than meet up with the rest of the team at a gas station due to lightning.
At the Gas station we stopped and prayed while talking to a local who told us that our intended path ( a pretty flat 50 mile bike path) was in fact not rideable and instructed our team to take another route that would be on the shoulder of a major highway that would be littered with foothills( he was not lying) Since i was riding sweep in the back my group we left the gas station last. We had to stop a couple miles away from the station due to some bike issues of one of the riders in my group. We got back on the rode and began to hit the “foothills” of W.V.
If you’ve never been on these foothills they’re essentially 1-3 mile long stretches of road in which the incline continues the entire time. Its one large and continuous climb. Needless to say these foothills are killers, especially since 9 times out of ten the down hills are considerably short and go straight into another foothill. The one thing I’ve learned about touring in this area is that it doesnt matter the milage you go, but the number of hills you take.
The shoulder we were riding on was littered with gravel and trash/old tire pieces, and road debris. This lead to some problems later but regardless it made riding the downhills a little more dangerous/bumpy than expected. We had to stop due to some flats on my team mates bikes. Thats when the problems started for me, at the top of a very treacherous hill I noticed that my tire pressure was low and knew that I had a slow flat that was going to go completely flat real soon. So instead of changing my inner tube which would have been smart, and since I was looking forward to the down hill, I kept pedaling straight into the downhill (which was wonderful and lasted for longer than I thought) but alas, at the end of the hill my tube was completely shot.
I knew that my team was behind me and I had no extra tubes on me so I waited on the side of the road for them to come. Instead after 20 minutes or so a man in a red pick up truck named Steven showed up to help me out with my tire. Evidentially he stopped and helped my teammate Rich three miles prior, than stopped to help another one of my teammates who had gotten a flat (which is why my group hadn’t shown up yet) at the hill that I left them at.
When trying to change the tire the tip of the presta valve on the inner tube I was using fell off, which left it useless than I had to wait until the venture van came to drop off an extra inner tube. This took a while, so three people from our group went ahead while emily and Cody waited with me. After switching the tube we were back on the road.
At this point the hills began to take the best of my body and being behind on time the three of us began to push ourselves as much as we could to catch up. After I had gotten two other flats around mile 60 we stopped for lunch. Upon pulling up to the venture van to grab lunch we meet a hitch hiker named Richard who had been crossing the U.S. to write a term paper for college. He had a puppy with him named Blue, and along with our group we talked, shared stories from the road and enjoyed some lunch.
It began to rain which was a wonderful relief from the sun and heart. We than had to jump in the van and pick up fellow teammates due to the rain and the dinner reception we had at the next church.
Upon arriving at Living waters Church in Bridgeport W.V. we noticed that this little church in the hills( closer to mountains) really knew how to throw together a meal! It was amazing! Full of Chick fila, sausages, pasta, rolls and a slew of other amazing treats.
This was one of the hardest days of tour for me, but I learned so much through it! We ended the night enjoying stories from the day and nervousness for the next . Thanks to all who keep reading, this trip has changed my life and I’m eager to share it all with you!
As always, Heres a video recap of the day from my friend Thomas Roepke, since he and I rode together alot this day you can see and here me throughout the video.