Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Ohio Hoo-Ray

Pennsylvania, the cruel mistress that she is, holds a special place in my heart. There are signs posted here and there along the roadways entreating Pennsylvanians (and visitors, no doubt) to “Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful!”. And it works, apparently. It’s a beautiful place and it seems like the locals are aware of it. I can’t think of any other reason that they’d be so excited to show off their state via a well demarcated and generally safe feeling bicycle path that literally leads from one end of the state to the other. I don’t mean that figuratively. It became so welcoming a site that when we rode by a “Bicycle PA” sign today as it wound off into the beautiful wilderness, crossing our path for a fleeting moment, a single tear fell from mine eye. Just playing. I was surprised at how nostalgic I felt when I saw the familiar green sign, though. I’m not one to hedge my bets on the results of a Google image search, but give it a shot yourself. Try putting “Bicycle PA” in the image search, and then compare the results with those for “Bicycle WV”. The first hit for WV is a picture of a tricycle, if that’s any indicator of what our ride today was like.

It’s striking how much the attitude of the municipalities can affect the behavior of the citizens. You’d think that those “Share the Road” signs in PA featuring a poorly rendered bicyclist with a car hot on his heels (again, feel free to plug the words in quotations into a Google image search, it works surprisingly well to illustrate what I’m referencing) were there for show, but let me tell you something. We rode through the entire width of Pennsylvania and through a tiny sliver of West Virginia. The entire time we were in Pennsylvania, from treacherous mountain passes to rolling hills with million dollar houses dotting the landscape, I’m not sure if we were honked at once. We were ignored (which is NOT a good thing when on a bicycle a few inches from the flow of traffic), honked at and shouted at from car windows multiple times in West Virginia, a state that we spent maybe 10 miles in. I’m not sure what the difference is between these two states – maybe it stems from an effort to change the perception of what a cyclist is by the higher-ups like I mentioned before – but it was palpable. We all crossed the bridge into Ohio with a bad taste in our mouths and, for myself at least, a heightened sense of appreciation for the hospitality of Pennsylvanians who did nothing more than give us the respect that they would expect if out for a nice afternoon of bicycle riding. Which is really what we’re up to, on 4500 miles of different roads spanning the nation for 72 afternoons straight. Is a little respect so much to ask for?

Comments (1)
  • Lisa Seekins says:

    Hi Jordan! I’ve been keeping up with your progress and am very excited for you and the opportunity set before you. It truly is a chance of a lifetime. You have done so much in your short life, most of which many people can only dream of. Have fun, be safe, and maybe I’ll see you on your way through Sioux Falls. With Love, Aunt Lisa

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