Chillicothe, OH to Greenup, KY

The new bridge over the Ohio at Portsmouth, Ohio

At the end of very nice week with friends in Alameda, California, I flew Southwest Airlines from Oakland to columbus Ohio where my daughter Adriane is in graduate school. Since it impractical to fly, with my bike, back to Asheville, I fly to other cities and ride back. The closest city - about 300 miles - is Nashville TN, but Columbus - at about 425 miles - is now a better place for me to fly to because my daughter is there.

I was originally planning to fly Skybus, which started direct flights from Oakland to Columbus this summer, but, for several reasons including bad reviews of that Skybus flight and the fact that they charge $60 more on Fridays, I went back to my old favorite, Southwest. The Southwest flight which has a stop in Chicago and takes about an hour longer than the Skybus flight, is effectively a direct flight because there is no plane change, so checked luggage - my bike box and one pannier - only got loaded and unloaded once.

After I got to Alameda, my friend Kevin took me the Oakland train station where I, following a tip from the touring email list, asked for a bike box. Not only did they have plenty of them to sell at half what airlines want when they actually have them, the train folks had a used box in perfect condition which they gave me! The day before I flew, I packed my bike into the box and repacked my panniers so that one pannier contained all the stuff I couldn't take on the plane and most of my camping gear, and the other two panniers contained everything else. Since my rear pannier doubles as a backpack, I wore it and carried one front pannier as my hand luggage on the plane.

The Southwest Terminal at Oakland was incredibly busy and I had to manage all of my luggage as well as the bike box by myself in the very long lines. I got clever and used the straps on my pannier/backpack to attach both of my front panniers to the backpack so I had both hands free to maneuver the bike box. I had a quite a load on my back, and I was very pleased when a Southwest Rep came up to me and told me to go around the, block long, check in lines because of the bike box! That saved me a lot of time and a lot of strain on my back!

Southwest, as every time I've flow with them, managed to make the check in and security process reasonably pleasant despite the huge number of people that were flying. My flights were both completely full, but, again, Southwest's employees were great and everything went smoothly. When I got to Columbus, my bike box and pannier showed up promptly - all other airlines else have made me wait a long time to get my bike - and the box was, to my daughters - who has flown with her bike - amazement, in perfect condition. This is my normal experience with Southwest, but not with any other airline!

I spent two enjoyable nights at my daughters house. She was busy, but we still had time to eat together and have some good discussions. This morning, she drove me and my bike down to Chillicothe so that I would have a relatively easy first day on my ride home. It is about 80 miles, with no big hills from Chillicothe to Ashland. I had ridden up to visit her at Columbus in 2004 so I knew what to expect and I decided I would take slightly different routes on the way down so I could see some new places.

Heading down OH 104 - Bridge Street in Chillicothe, Ohio

I started riding on Bridge Street in Chillicothe. I had ridden to there in 2004 using the Three Locks Route from Waverly. This time I would follow 23/104 down to Waverly. I some minor startup problems, e.g. I put my front wheel on flipped which meant the brakes didn't work very well and my cyclecomputer magnets were in the wrong places. I fixed those problems as I made my way back to Bridge Street after I discovered that 23 doesn't allow bicycles when it is going through Chillicothe ;-{. That wasted about five miles, but did give me peaceful places to get my startup issues sorted out.

I stopped just before Bridge Street reaches 23/104 south of Chillicothe and bought two Honey Buns for snacks. Then I got on the, now legal, US 23 and headed for Waverly. It was OK riding with a decent shoulder, a few hills but nothing that required my granny gear, and a bit too much traffic. the Highway Patrol were out in force on this Sunday morning. Adriane and I saw two people pulled on the way down from Columbus and I saw two more pulled on the way to Waverly. I think that is some kind of record for me, and a good reflection on Ohio's enforcement of its speed limits.

On OH 104 south of Waverly, OH

In Waverly, I stopped at at Subway and got a 12" sub and a drink. I ate half that sub there and the other half about two hours down OH 104, near the Ohio River. 104 split from 23 just south of that Subway and I knew there would be few services on 104, which doesn't run through the towns like 23 does.

104 was much nicer riding than 23, except possibly in the last few miles before it joins 73 a few miles north of the Ohio. In that section, it loses its good shoulder, but not its traffic level and riding is a bit unpleasant. I got passed by a fellow in a big RV who, acting like he was a Californian, beeped his horn just before he passed me into traffic coming the other way. It was good that the shoulder was rideable there, because he took every inch of the lane.

The Scioto river from OH 104

When I got to the Ohio, I was looking forward to seeing the new bridge across the river at Portsmouth. I've seen it under construction, but this was the first time I've seen the final product. Very nice to look at, even in the heavy haze that was everywhere I rode today! The 73 bridge is very good for bicycles and I don't even like driving in Portsmouth, but it was good to see that the new bridge has nice wide shoulders and would be very easy to bike across.

The new bridge looking north from Kentucky toward Portsmouth

Riding on the Kentucky side of the river wasn't as easy as riding in Ohio side because, for a few miles, I was heading east instead of south. The nice tail wind was now a side wind and my speed dropped by several miles an hour. I stopped in South Side, the town on that stretch, for my last meal of the day. Greenup was about 15 miles away and Ashland was about 30, so I figured I might snack in Greenup and stop in Ashland or even slightly beyond Ashland at the last motel on this part of 23. Riding was fast once 23, still following the Ohio River, turned south. Drivers were almost all polite and, although the heat and the relative humidity were both in the high 80s ;-}, it was good riding.

US 23 in Kentucky, north of Greenup

The Ohio river from a hill on US 23 north of Greenup

I was cruising in the high teens, so I got to Greenup quickly. I rode past the Budget Inn remembering a pleasant night I spent there in 2004 and then, when the wind suddenly changed from a tail wind to a headwind and I heard thunder rumbling ahead of me, I turned around and rode back. The Budget Inn is the only motel between Portsmouth and Ashland, and I stopped here rather than ride into the thunderstorm that I thought was coming my way. Ten minutes after I checked in, it was raining hard and the storm lasted for at least half an hour. I'm sure exactly how long since I took a nap during the storm and cleaned up after it was over.

Previous Page Next Page