The Panhandle Trail is a Rails to Trail stretching from Weirton West Virginia east to Carnegie, Pennsylvania, about 29 miles long. Weirton WV is about an hour drive for me, so that was my starting point.
West Virginia Start
It was easy to find the trail head in Weirton. I got all my gear assembled. I only forgot my chapstick. Off I went! The WV portion of the trail is limestone/dirt. The first mile was a bit muddy, as there had been a good rainstorm two days ago. I knew the trail had a gradual uphill incline in this eastward direction. I still felt kind of sluggish. It started out being a nice bluebird blue sky ride.
On to Pennsylvania
There was the photo op at the state border. I was pleasantly surprised to see the asphalt begin! I started biking a bit quicker.
How I Fared
It was a good ride. It was a bit cold, yet I could feel myself sweating. There seemed to be a headwind both ways, how does that work?
I greatly under fueled for the ride. I am actively trying to follow Weight Watchers, and only brought a string cheese and some Vanilla Wafers as fuel. As in running, I saw more folks close to where the trail heads were.
The sun disappear and the skies clouded over. WIth the bit of wind that picked up, I was glad I had worn what I had: a tech shirt, a long sleeve biking jersey, with a stretchy blue jacket over that. I swapped out my sweaty buff on the way back for my wool buff. I did use of my paniers to carry my bike repair, spare bottle of water, too little food, and my spare buff. I was glad to have my full biking gloves on.
The Panhandle is a very nice trail. It is out in the open, so I could only imagine it’s hot in the summer.
I biked 15 miles out and back, 30 miles is my biggest effort for the year-so I am a bit tired now!
Today I finally got my butt outside and rode Helga! We went around the block, 7 miles. It took me less time than I expected. I’m more out of shape than I thought.
Lessons Learned in the Fat Bike Today
Get correct size cycling booties
The temperature was about 36F when I started my ride. I decided to try out my neoprene shoe covers, similar to these
to see if these would keep my feet warm. I believe I did not buy the right size, even though I bought a Large. I couldn’t get the shoe covers to attach in the back. Walking up the first hill, the left one pretty much detached and flopped along. I took it off and stuffed it in my pocket.If I can’t figure out if these are the right size, I’m going to take my friend’s advice and wear plastic baggies over my feet, under my sock. Same principal and cheaper. (The ride warmed up and it wasn’t even applicable.)
Wear Protective Lenses
As I rode down my first hill, I noticed the mud spattering all the way TO MY FACE! I knew I would get muddy, but didn’t expect to have mud on my face, in my mouth-and then-SPLASH-mud in the eye!
Why didn’t I wear my biking (safety glasses) or at least sunglasses with my contacts? It wasn’t sunny, so I didn’t see the need for them. Now I do! Glasses will keep mud out of your eyes! And bugs!
Fenders Can Be Beneficial
I knew I was going to get muddy, but I didn’t anticipate HOW muddy I would be. Fenders are looking like a very good purchase for Helga in the very near future.
Get Something to Cover your Water Bottle With
I ride a muddy township road. We live among the Amish who also travel these roads. The Amish drive buggies, powered by horses. Horses leave their road apples everywhere. So that mud splashing up on me is not just mud, it’s mixed up with horse manure. Which led to me looking at my water bottle:
Ew! I tried wiping off the little nozzle and just squirting the water into my mouth, not touching it to my lips. Next time, I think I might cover the top with a plastic baggie, therefore keeping the spout of it clean for me. Better safe than sorry.
I Need to Get Outside More
I had fun out there even with the mud splatters and pushing my bike up all the hills. I was pleasantly tired after, which means I need to go bike more!
Taking November 24 off as a vacation day, I decided to Opt Outside and get more of the Buckeye Trail hiked. The Buckeye Trail wanders fairly close to where I live, so it will be easier for me than some folks to hike the BT.
My hike on Black Friday.
My husband dropped me off at Point One on the Belle Valley Section. He was going to go do all his grocery shopping, then meet me at Point Five in Salt Fork State Park. (I wanted him to meet me before Point Five, as I’ve already hiked up that big hill numerous times, but oh well.)
I found it interesting that Point One to Point Two are considered “off road” because it’s a private road that the BT is blazed up. Nope, it’s still a road that I hiked on.
It was a quiet day in the country. About five cars passed me. Two loose dogs, but old boys, who didn’t leave their yards to woof at me. Sunny skies but windy.
Points 1-3 were “new to me” as I hadn’t been in this area before. Ohio is a pretty state, even in our brown stage of fall. I enjoyed my solitary walk.
I’ve walked Point 4 to 6 before, so my last two miles were familiar. As I entered Salt Fork State Park, and started up the steep hill, here came my vehicle down the hill! Perfect timing, I don’t have to hike that hill!
To celebrate and draw attention to encourage women to take care of their own health. Many times women are busy being the caregivers of both the younger generation (children) and the other generation (parents) that they don’t take the time for themselves.
What Can You Do?
Get out, get active! If you already exercise, that’s great! If you don’t move on a regular basis, why not get out for a walk today? Why not sign up for that yoga or barre class you’ve thought about?
Make that doctor appointment
Can’t get motivated to work out? Okay, pick up the phone or computer mouse and make your annual doctor appointment.
Drink Some Water
Have you drank your daily water requirement yet? That fancy water bottle isn’t going to drink itself!
I had the opportunity and luck to meet up with a Buckeye Trail Thru Hiker, Mei-Ling today. She was hiking well, and I caught up with her right before the off-road section at Salt Fork State Park.
A thru hiker is a hiker who is planning on finishing an entire trail with one continous hike. This would be opposite of a hiker who might get out on the weekend and hike a section of the Buckeye Trail, and keep working on adding completed sections of trail hiked.
Mei Ling and Preston are the two Buckeye Trail Warrior Expeditions hikers for 2017. Warrior Expeditions provides veterans with everything they need to complete a long distance outdoor expedition at no cost to the veteran.
Buckeye Trail Sat Fork Section
I’ve hike this section of the Buckeye Trail. I parked at the Group Campground end and hiked in to meet Mei-Ling, who was coming from the other direction.
Oh my! This section needs some serious maintenance. I hiked this section in May. It was overgrown then-but MY it’s overgrown now.
Even though it is an off-road section, it’s no fun in its present form.
The trails needs to be mowed at least yearly to beat back the multi-flower rose.
There is one section where I believe the rose bush is getting so big you can’t mow it down.
I’d like to get back there sooner and later and see if maybe there could be an easier passage in the woods beside the trail..
It was fun to host Mei-Ling as she continues with her Buckeye Trail south. 2 of my 3 dogs really liked her visiting!
Day Four was my last day on the C&O Canal Towpath Trail.
My miles were shorter. I only had to go twenty four miles, from mile 160 to mile 184.5. I did not need to be in any hurry on this day.
There was quite a bit of water in the canal. Turtles have become my new spirit animal. I just love to see the turtles sunning themselves on logs. But the turtles were thwarting me. Every time I stopped for a photo op, they would slide off their log back into the water!
Campground and Water on the C&O Canal Trail
I wanted to mention the campgrounds and water available on the C&O Canal Trail. One great feature on the C&O Canal Towpath Trail are the free campgrounds, which are spaced out about every five miles. There is a port-a-potty and a water supply at each campground. There is a good sign that tells you how far to the next campground, which made it very easy to gauge whether I needed to refill on my water supply.
Flat Number Three!
All was going well until around mile 173. My tire…was going flat. I stopped and pumped air. The gauge would not go above 40 PSI. I actually found the hole where the air was going out.
I did not want to change the tire. I put a plastic candy wrapper on the hole, then wrapped cloth athletic tape around it. I biked a bit. This didn’t work. I was going to have to change the tire. On the trail.
Know how to change your tire. I have now changed my rear tire five times. It really hasn’t gotten that much easier. I can now get the flat tire off the rim much quicker.
If you are going on a bike tour, you need to know how to change a tire.
I got the tire off, and inner tube out. I knew where the hole was. Sitting on the side of the trail, I carefully looked inside the tire. I inspected the entire outside tire. I knew where the hole was. But was the problem?
There, in a tread, was a little quartz pebble. Which I knew was the problem. This little quartz pebble was penetrating the inner tube. Since I had not removed the little pebble the day before, this was caused Flat #3.
Pebble removed. Inner tube installed. Now time to put wheel on bike and chain back on derailleur.
This took…quite some time. I had no cell phone signal on the trail and could not consult You Tube. I kept trying. I know it is very simple..but when you can’t get the chain on, and don’t know how to do it, and it’s 2 pm and hot and humid and sweat is pouring down your face, it’s a big deal.
But I did it. It took me an hour to change the tire. (Which is not bad, my fastest time is 40 minutes in my driveway at home). I load the bike up with my stuff, and the rear wheel doesn’t move.
I still don’t have the rear axle aligned correctly. I take the pannier off the bike AGAIN, and fix this.
Now I can continue, my last ten miles on the C&O Trail!
I am so filthy. Triumphant but filthy.
It was cool, to see my first view of the mountains as I pedaled westward.
I’m so ready to be done. I’ve been dreaming about a gin and tonic for miles. I know the towpath trail comes out of the woods not far from mile 184.5. When I see the iconic spires of Cumberland for the first time, I let out a WOOHOO! I am almost there. Almost done.
I have been less filthy finishing a 100 mile foot race and biking this section of trail. I am a mess.
A finish and straight off to the bike shop I go. My brakes have been messed up since Flat #2, meaning I haven’t had brakes that worked. Flat #3 hasn’t changed that. The Bike shop fixes my brakes-meaning they tell me I need new brake and install them. I am good with that. Perhaps I will have a new bike by the end of this bike tour.
My gin and tonic taste amazing and we have oysters and crab cakes at The Crabby Pig in Cumberland. I have now completed the C&O Canal Trail, and it is on to the Great Allegheny Passage Trail in the morning!
Do you know how to change your flat with the kit you have available on your bike ride?
I have changed the date of my 335 mile bike tour from October to August. Yikes! That’s coming soon. It is time to hop onto the bike and start getting some miles under my butt.
Route: Park in Fort Laurens Park, Bolivar, Ohio. Ride two miles over the road to pick up the Towpath Trail. Ride through the cornfields for about 1/2 mile, then jump Rt 212 for about a 1/4 mile of sketchy road, then pick up the Towpath Trail again.
The Towpath Trail, in the south, is mostly crushed limestone, gravel in a few areas, pleasant to ride on. Nobody was out at 9 am on this cool spring May morning but me and the chipmunks, geese, and a few deer.
The Towpath Trail grows through the small town of Navarre Ohio. Do you know what is also located in Navarre? Nickles Bakery! Baking bread since 1909 and in seven midwestern states. Do you know what smells sooo good riding through town? Baking bread!
I continued north past all the great smells.
l noticed the familiar blue blazes of the Buckeye Trail on the Towpath Trail. These would be some pleasant non-road miles to hike on.
First Clipped in Fall
It happened! My first fall. It was a doozy. I was about two miles from Massilion, when a rock caught my eye. Yes, one of those painted rocks that is going around the internet. While I was thinking, “oh I should stop and pick that up” I didn’t compensate for the little slope I was starting up. I tried to shift, but already had lost momentum BOOM down I went.
I got a handlebar straight into my sternum. I heard my head hit the ground-thwock! OOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWW! Somehow I was unclipped and stumbled away. Knees were a bit skinned but the pain was in my chest. I walked it off for a few minutes. I seemed to be okay, other than every time I took a big breath-it hurt!
Oh yeah, here’s the rock I picked up! 😳
I kept trying to decide where to turn around.
I knew there was a break in the trail. I was hoping the bike shop was on this side of the trail. (It wasn’t). I made the logical decision to turn where the Sippo Trail started.
The bike ride went well. I carried my running pack, since I have yet to figure out how to attach the water bottle cage to the bike. My private parts only got a bit sore, and I had less numbness in my hands. I think I need to move my handlebars slightly. The next day, nothing is sore except my STERNUM which is hugely painful.
I forgot snacks. I was tired near the finish. I thought I had left some gels in the back, nope!
The Towpath Trail will be good training grounds for the C&O Canal Trail. I am going to have to download audiobooks and podcasts to deal with the long green tunnel on this for August.