In the voice of Forrest Gump’s Bubba:
Anyway, like I was saying, roads is the roots of the land. You can drive ’em, bike ’em, cycle ’em, run ’em. They’s dirt roads, paved roads, gravel roads, sand roads, steep roads, flat roads. They’s roads full of pot holes, bike roads, busy roads, empty roads, city roads, country roads. That’s… that’s ’bout it.
For the first time in my life, I have a visceral and deeply vested personal stake in the state of the union's infrastructure. On a bike, the surrounding is not a backdrop as it might be from a car, but rather an experience. Your legs will alert you to the slightest upward tilt in terrain before your eyes ever register it, and the quality of your path and landscape can set your mood for hours. I thought I’d share some thoughts of our most memorable thoroughfares, Buzzfeed style.
When asphalt turns to gravel and the ground from flat to steep
Your tires will crunch and slow and weary quads will weep
Biker beware: the Pennsylvania backroads are treacherous and they don’t give a damn about you or your family. What’s that? You wanted to breathe today? Toughen up buttercup because we don’t have time for oxygen-sucking snowflakes around here. If you’re able to stay on your bike at all, make sure to take those turns slow. In the words of Pocahontas, every rock and tree and creature has a life, has a spirit, has a name — and all of these pebbles are murderous assholes lying in wait to make you skid on a corner.
Feast your eyes upon the squirrels, the possums dried and flat
Hit a crack, lose your balance, and you shall look like that
Sweetie, you’ve taken a wrong turn. You absolutely do not belong here. This highway is packed full of cars, trucks, and 18 wheelers with anger management issues, and every single one of them is in a rush. Lock in your legs, steel your arms, and for the love of all that’s holy don’t let your balance waver for even the most fleeting moment. I’d ordinarily advocate for people to register as organ donors, but in this case don’t bother. There won’t be enough of you left.
Through trails rough and loose and fields full of corn
The hours move as slow as tar — cyclist, ye were warned
These boots are made for walking but these roads were most certainly not made for biking. Two narrow lines with grass in the middle make for a comfortable fit for a tractor, and that tractor’s driver is the only living soul you’re going to see for the next three hours. I hope you’ve got a speaker and a good playlist because you’re not gonna get any entertainment from the scenery. There is no past. There is no future. There is only corn.
If grass runs out and the landscape turns to sand
Beware thy balance always, or fall to knees and hands
Sometimes I guess we all get tired and give up, and Ohio’s roads are no exception. Once in a while the route gives way to meters and meters of sandy terrain, and I know you’re tired after thirty miles of corn, but stay vigilant. If your turn is even the slightest bit sharp you’re going for a ride on the worst slip n’ slide in the world.
The traffic may be light but you’re straight below the sky
Your legs will love the flat terrain — your fragile skin will fry
The miles pass quickly on these well maintained roads and the traffic is light enough to take the lane like the cast of an ’80s musical without being jerks. If you’re in the mood to chill on your own for a bit, go for it — it’s super easy to pull ahead on roads this flat and stop signs are extremely rare. But I sure hope you put on plenty of sunscreen… this landscape extends for miles in every direction uninterrupted by a single tree.
It’s a workout to the top and head rush going down
The hills round here are fun, and so’s the little town
Breathe-breath-breathe-breathe-breathe WHOOSH. These little lanes are lots of fun - enough hard work to keep your adrenaline up but plenty of downhills to coast down and let your knees relax a bit. Often they’re lined with cute cottages or cows who will sleepily watch you pass by. And yes, you will wave at those cows every time.
It’s shady and it’s smooth, and there’s critters to behold
This lovely trail’s a holy grail, and worth its weight in gold
You won’t encounter many of these gloriously maintained bike trails, so make sure to enjoy them when you can. The trees form a tunnel of shade over you, and from time to time they’re interrupted by a merry little bridge or a teeny tiny intersection. You will pass many old couples. Most of them will be chugging along on delightfully weird ergonomically designed bikes and tricycles. But watch out for the suicidal woodland creatures. Squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs and deer have jumped directly in front of our wheels. One of which did not have quite the sense of timing as its more agile brethren.
That’s all for now! We’ve just crossed into Indiana this afternoon, so we’re expecting lots more farmland for the next few…days? Weeks? Do Indianians ever see one another between all this corn?