Day 15 on the bike. 45 miles. 4 hours. 817 miles completed. 340 miles to go.

Not a good day for biking. First there was a cold fog that slipped my earliest departure time to 10 am. Then I got pulled over by the Ohio State Police.

‘You can’t bike up here’, he shouted at me as he got out of his car.

I walked up to him, looked him straight in the eye and said, ‘Sure you can. It’s a state highway.’

He said, ‘No. It’s a freeway and it has restricted access.’

I said, ‘Well, you all better post better signs because I’ve been biking this road since Toledo and I haven’t seen one sign prohibiting bikes.’

He said, ‘400 miles don’t make it right. ‘I was thinking, ‘Ahh, yes it does’.

He said, ‘Generally speaking if something has on ramps and exits, it’s an expressway.’

I said, ‘I don’t think so.’

He said, ‘Do you want to keep arguing with me?’

I said, ‘I am not trying to argue, I am just telling you what I saw. And there hasn’t been one single sign on this entire highway that said that bikes were prohibited.’

He said, ‘I am telling you from 21 years of experience that you can’t bike this road. You are going to have to find another way.’ I was thinking, ‘No, you have 1 year of experience, 21 times’, even as I was also thinking just how screwed I was now that I was kicked off Hwy. 23.

He asked me for ID. I gave him my Mexican drivers license. He didn’t like that and asked me for my passport. I gave it to him then he called it in to see if I had ‘priors’; as in prior convictions or outstanding warrants.

I dug out my Ohio roadmap. And damned if he wasn’t partially right. He got off the radio and pointed his finger at the map, where we were, and then referred to the legend and said, ‘See. Restricted access.’ I was thinking, ‘Damn. That’s what that dark blue highlight on the road meant.’

I said, ‘You’re right. But it appears that only applies to this tiny piece of Hwy. 23 that is restricted to bikes.’ And i pointed to the map and said, ‘So if I backtrack and take Hwy. 104 it will dump me out back out onto 23 just beyond the restriction point.’

He said, ‘You can do’, he reluctantly admitted but went on to say that it was dangerous and no one shold be biking at all on Hwy. 23. I was thinking, ‘No shit Sherlock.’ Hwy. 23 with its variable width shoulders, which are most often cluttered with hazardous debris, 4 lane traffic moving at 60 – 75 mph – lots and lots of traffic – truckers, cars and pickups pulling all manner of trailers. I wouldn’t disagree with his assessment of dangerous. But being on a bike, going in the direction that I was didn’t leave room for any alternatives. As if there were any alternatives.

His intervention, which resulted in me getting kicked off that part of 23, effectively set me back an hour and just kind of generally soured the rest of my biking day. So I pulled up short in Portsmouth where I should have biked another 15 miles down the road to the next town that reputedly had a motel. But I was very tired. Bad shoulders and a prolonged construction zone positively wore me out. 

Stopping early had consequences so forget tomorrow. I was already sorry about it. My choices for the next bike day were constrained. I either quit at 40 miles (where there is a motel) or peg out to 72 miles to the next town that has a motel. Either choice sucks. I want to ride more than 40 miles but less than 72 miles.

And is the 72 mile choice really an option? What if the mountains get steeper? Can I even do 72 now that the landscape has transitioned to mountains? So I can’t make a reservation because I don’t know if I can bike that far. But what if I can and get there only to find out that they don’t have any rooms left?

Hmmm. Plan B?