Across West Virginia on Route 50


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North America » United States » West Virginia » Parkersburg
September 8th 2021
Published: September 20th 2021
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I wanted to start off on Route 50 in style, show it who was in charge. Instead of just going down George Mason, getting on at the Unitarian Church and grinding through 15 stoplights to exit the Metro area, I climbed onto I 66 and headed West, figuring I'd pick up the route where the riding would be fun. But the roads got the better of me. I-66 is under constant reconstruction these days. I'm used to riding it at the beginning of every trip to Monterey, so I fell into the zone and missed the on-ramp to US 50 West. Lurching through orange cones and white lines, I managed to make the the next exit and get onto my road -- going East. Hoping this wasn't a portent of things to come, I got myself turned around and headed West. The journey was on.

My favorite travel author, William Least Heat Moon, has called Route 50 "... the best national road across the middle of the US..." Time Magazine called it "The Backbone of America" many years ago. It is an old style highway, connecting towns and moving farm produce. No big walls to block the view, a maximum of two lanes in each direction, reasonable speed limits, it moves across the country revealing America's social and economic diversity, and strength. After an hour of riding through horse farms, ancient trees, well kept villages and high end restaurants, I knew that I had started at the high end of the spectrum. Middleburg is not middle America. Things get more sketchy as you go West, and by the time I reached Grafton WV I knew I had come home. A big storm loomed. I stopped at a Vape store to gear up for the rain, and entered into conversation with the owner. He wanted to impound my bike, and urged me to hurry before the storm broke.

Route 50 almost disappeared as I crossed West Virginia. It is clearly not the quickest way across. When left to its own devices, the GPS automatically routes one North to I 68, the beautiful East/West interstate to Morgantown. My road dwindled in size and increased in turns and slope, until reaching the Eastern Continental Divide at the Western edge of Grant County. After that it followed the valley of the Cheat down and West to reach Clarksburg where it was transformed into a quasi interstate -- roaring West to Parkersburg at great speed. No two miles are the same. A challenge and a delight to drive.

And a huge shout out to Beth. Thank you for being so supportive of what must seem a selfish, but rather important, folly.


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In the East, visit the SheetzIn the East, visit the Sheetz
In the East, visit the Sheetz

My favorite kind of gas station
Crossing the CheatCrossing the Cheat
Crossing the Cheat

Entering the Gulf of Mexico basin.
Vaping HQ in GraftonVaping HQ in Grafton
Vaping HQ in Grafton

I stopped here to suit up for the impending storm. Chatted with the owner. Then suffered two hours of rain.


21st September 2021

Cheat River
One of the best whitewater rafting trips I've taken was on the Cheat. Our crew so enjoyed one of the rapids that we carried our raft upstream two times to run the gauntlet repeatedly. Thanks for taking us on another adventure.

Tot: 0.107s; Tpl: 0.016s; cc: 12; qc: 62; dbt: 0.0128s; 1; m:saturn w:www (104.131.125.221); sld: 1; ; mem: 1.4mb