Month: August 2009

We’ll be back on the road to finish the last leg of the trip right after Labor Day.  Day 47 was posted at the same time as this message so there may be some new stuff you haven’t seen!

intermission_folks

During the night the wind had changed to easterly and the shore line was quiet except for a little sloshing.  It was a Chamber of Commerce morning at the lakes’ edge. East Ripley to Tonawanda, NY 007 I really didn’t want to leave but the reality of ride distance and needing to move on kept me prepping to get underway.  Another very enjoyable day riding along the edge of Lake Erie.  Stopped at every harbor and water view that I could and snapped a bunch of photos.

East Ripley to Tonawanda, NY 010

For a number of reasons I had a tough time finding breakfast this morning.  The area was definitely quiet, but there was also timing and my indecision that caused the issue.  I finally pulled into a corner store in Dunkirk.  Amongst other things, I got a chicken salad sandwich for later snacking.  I just happened to open the packing before I left and it turned out to be a mayonnaise sandwich with a little chicken for garnish.  That wasn’t worth carrying, in the garbage it went.East Ripley to Tonawanda, NY 013

Continued along and arrived in Silver Creek some time later and found a “deli” and pulled in.  The “deli” was really a pizza shack misnamed.  I ordered a calzone then went about reviewing my route for the day.  Ate half, wasn’t the greatest choice either, and stuffed the other part in my bag.  I wasn’t Hungary anymore but I wasn’t feeling properly fueled either.

Before I left one of the locals struck up a conversation and recommended that I take the shore road that was coming up.  It ran right along the water and had lots of summertime tourist spots to enjoy.  I had intended to go that way and his urging convinced me it was the right way to go to enjoy the area.  So up the road a bit further and I left route 5 for Old Lake Shore Road.

This turn is when I realized the wind had come up behind me.  I was immediately being buffeted and my speed dropped by a few MPH.  But the road and its westerly direction would only last a mile or so, not a concern.

The shore road was what I expected, there was even the shore side bar/beach with all the commensurate activity.  I stopped to take in the scene and snap a few pictures.  As I was standing there considering a third meal in less than 3 hours it finally occurred to me that I had some nectarines in my bag that I had purchased the day before from a road side stand.  Yummy, I finally hit the taste button I had been looking for and had some food that would actually fuel me.

East Ripley to Tonawanda, NY 015

It wasn’t long after, that I left the shore road and returned to a much busier route 5 as I approached the southwest edge of Buffalo.  I new that 5 turned even more busy and was going to be crazy for a short stretch before I would get off and enter the bike path.  What I wasn’t planning on was construction in this area too.

As I got to the busiest end of 5, maybe the last 2 miles I would be on it, the right lane was closed for construction.  Of course with the right lane goes the shoulder.  I rode inside the blockade when possible but soon realized that the constant need to move in and out of the lane was more dangerous than just staying out there.  Then of course there was the road redirection and narrowing.  I needed to get off this road.  So I did at the next opportunity and once again Alice shone the light on my path and I was safely on surface streets.

As I was winding through the industrial area I had been ejected into, past the ADM and General Mills plants, I stumbled into the start of a bike path.  It wound around the backs of factories along what I assume used to be the loading dock.  Then the path opened up to a great water front park at the end of the original Erie Canal.  There was a well maintained wet display of WWII naval vessels and people all around enjoying them.  At this point the bike path disappeared.

Spent some time enjoying my surroundings then went looking for the continuation of the bike path.  When I couldn’t find it, I decided to ask someone.  I was clearly not paying attention when I selected a rider sitting on the side of the path to ask.  As soon as he started to speak I realized he was another kind of cyclist, one let’s say, who had no choice but to ride for transportation.  In the end he did know where the path continued and I was able to get under way.

East Ripley to Tonawanda, NY 020

This wouldn’t be that last time I’d need assistance to stay on the trail.  It seems that signage was a bit scarce as the trail began and ended on various city streets.  Everyone that I asked was helpful and working my way through was very doable.  Just a hint for anyone riding the trail, there is a least one ‘bike only bridge’ with business hours.  It’s fully enclosed to you can’t “work it”.  I’m sure there’s a way around but…

The path stayed along the Niagara River and I could watch the local activity as I went along.  Lots of marina’s and water for folks to enjoy and they were dong so.  East Ripley to Tonawanda, NY 034 As I came out of one path I spied what I thought to be a Joe’s Crab Shack ahead, it wasn’t, but I was a mere 2 miles from my destination for the night, and the next two weeks, so I pulled in to have a congratulatory dinner and drink.  This down time also gave me an opportunity to find a hotel and chat with a number of people who wanted to know what I was up to.

I have arrived in Niagara a number of days ahead of schedule.  Cyndy will be coming in later in the month to join me for the last leg of the trip so I have made the choice to rent a car and go visit my parents in RI.  The rental car place and the bike shop where we shipped Cyndy’s bike were in opposite directions from the hotel, so I had decided that tomorrow I would go back to the bike path, ride up to the bike shop then ride over to the car rental place.

Hopping out of bed in the morning I looked out the window and it was apparent that the perfectly clear day of yesterday was gone.  Clouds, not a big deal.  I messed around the hotel for an hour or so, getting breakfast and such then it was time to go.  Walked to the door of the hotel only to find it raining. Now what?  I had come all this way and NOW it’s going to rain on me?  Back to the room to find out what’s going on, Weather Channel says “you’re going to get wet”.

All of a sudden, riding directly to the car rental place seemed a much better idea.  I waited for a break in the rain and made a dash for the place, just 5.5 miles away.  It rained on me, but lightly. Not too bad.  I picked up my rental car (Subaru something) and stuffed all my junk in, including the bike.  I felt a bit like the Grinch in the scene where he’s stuffing the Christmas tree up the chimney, just a little harder push, there. Did my logistics duty and was ready to hit the road.

Just a short 8 hours should get me to Narragansett.  I’ve decided to drive the bike route to check it out.  Don’t want to waste an opportunity improve the route it I can.  Boy the miles go past quickly in a car!  I will also get there just in time to enjoy tropical storm Danny.

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Another mighty fun day today.  Cleaned up the campsite and hit the road in a pretty timely fashion.  The bike path ended just a short distance after rejoining it, as expected.  A couple of turns to route twenty to get me on the course for the day.  The town of Ashtabula, as I saw it, consisted of a lot of big box stores on the main route and that was about it.  There was a breakfast place, a chain with Internet, that I had been to before so in I went to get some food and info for the day.

I knew my route for the day but the lake was just over there and I wanted to see it.  I looked high and low to find a little road that went along the shore, but none made sense.  So I checked email and resigned myself to the fact that I would need to wait on the lake viewing.

Back on the road I was getting a beating.  The surface had been ground for resurfacing and there was nowhere for me to go to avoid it.  I just held on lightly and hopped to get past it soon, as I assuredly did.  I appreciated the smooth roads ahead much more the rest of the day.

After crossing into Pennsylvania I arrived at route 5, a road that promised light traffic and views of the lake.  Ashtabula, OH to East Ripley, NY 019 After hours of riding without seeing it the lake finally revealed itself, just over there as I knew it was, but still out of reach.  The view came and went and I continued to look for ways of getting to its edge, when finally I came across Presque Park, a peninsular.  After all the whining I chose to bypass the park because going would have added 20 miles to my day.  I know I’m ahead of schedule, but that’s been revised.  So now I have new expectations.

I continued along only to run into Liberty Park and Marina just a couple of miles after.  I had been making great progress 47 miles and it was only 1pm.  But the shinny objects in the harbor were a distraction.  I investigated every corner of the place, finally touching it, when a couple walked up and started asking questions.  In the course of conversation the guy let me know that there was a water taxi that ran across the harbor to Presque Park, the one  that I had forgone earlier.   From there it was a very short ride across the peninsular to the lake and beach.  I balked at first then ended up running for the taxi at the last second.

Ashtabula, OH to East Ripley, NY 013

I wheeled up and the captain welcomed me and my bike aboard strapping my bike to the rails for safe keeping.  I stayed up at the wheel house to chat and the captain filled me in on the goings on in the park and on the water.  In a few short minutes we had made the 1.5 miles crossing.  His round trip takes 1 hour so I asked him to hold a spot for me on the next trip.

I headed over to the beach, it was much closer than I had expected, and kicked off my shoes and waded into the water.  I wanted to go for a swim but I didn’t want to deal with more wet things hanging from the back of the bike.  In the end, I went in the water of course.  It was cool and refreshing.  I was cold, finally.  But my indecision had cost me time and I only had 15 minutes to dry off, change and get back to the boat for my return trip.

Headed for the pier and was greeted by the captain and a half full boat, some being bikers.  I heard a couple of noises (moans really)from the other passengers, you know, the kind like, is that overloaded bike going to tip us over????  As we made our return trip the Captain and I chatted some more, he had just taken up biking again at the young age of 61.  He didn’t want to wear a helmet so I gave him the helmet speech.  He filled me in on some more info for my easterly departure from the Erie area.

Soon we were at the pier and I was off.  There were some decent paths to follow on the way out of town and I also noticed “BikePA” signs earlier so I followed along.  Most of the roads had decent shoulders and surface conditions.  As I moved out of the city the traffic became lighter again and the route more of a pleasure.  I was pleasantly surprised by the route through Erie.  I expected to be riding through a busy downtown cluster, it was anything but.

That was the last of the cities for me today.  All of my riding would then be through small towns and rural areas.  Ashtabula, OH to East Ripley, NY 026 Route 5 continued to take me close to the lake and provide vistas at irregular intervals.  I stopped at another marina for a look and to snap some photos later in the day.

I only had 27 miles to go when I left the city of Erie to make my goal for today and of course I passed some great places that were short of that.  So I continued to pedal along until I reached my 75 mile mark then started looking.  I had been scouting up to this point and it was very obvious that all these vineyards and corn fields back right up to the lake.  So I’m thinking, hey, I can go to the back of one of these areas and camp right along the lakes edge, out of site out of mind.  So that’s what I did.

Ashtabula, OH to East Ripley, NY 050

I’m at the back of a vineyard right above the water listening to the waves crash.  Not bad.  This place also has a set of stairs to get down to the water where there was a private beach for my bathing enjoyment.  Took care of removing the days’ filth, then made dinner and pitched the tent right at sunset.  Scurried into the tent to avoid the skeeters and type this entry, then it was off to sleep.

Left the hotel this morning with a full stomach and a good laugh after seeing the look on a little girls’ face when I told her why my bike was covered with bags and where I had come from.  Priceless.

Medina was a very busy little area with a major interstate intersecting my route, but that wouldn’t last but a quarter mile.  Made my first turn this morning and it lead me right out into the countryside.  It was peaceful and enjoyable once again.  I am ahead of schedule so I took the time to enjoy the route.

Houses with big turf covered lawns, forest and plenty of untraveled road.  Somewhere in the first 1 to 2 hours I ran across a equestrian jumping event so I stopped and watched for a while.  The roads continued to be quiet as I wound from one to the next.  After a bit of trouble finding my way I entered the Cayuga Valley park.

Medina to Ashtabula, OH 009

From the maps I thought this area would be at the ridge line but it turned out to be a valley.  A very bike friendly valley, where riders were going every which way, riding all makes and models.  The main feature being another rails to trails path right down the middle.  Unfortunately it ran north to south so I passed on this one.

My time in the park was all too short and I soon made my way over the ridge and Medina to Ashtabula, OH 013back to civilization.  But the road continued to be great.

I stopped and chatted with a couple on a tandem for a little while.  They were fully loaded and out for their first touring ride.  While I was there another group stopped.  They were out for the day and light.  I was drooling over their unloaded carbon fiber bikes. 

I took the liberty of changing some of my routing to cut off a large corner and it turned out very interesting.  I ran into my first (very short) dirt road and a collection of not well maintained roads but it was OK.  The area was home to a very large Amish contingent.  They were going this way and that on foot and in their carriages.  The best part was the number of them that were out playing, visiting on the porch, eating together as a community.  There were kids everywhere, OUTSIDE!!! In the grass and dirt.  Not one of them was fat.

Medina to Ashtabula, OH 024

If you happen to travel this area the Amish don’t work on Sunday, so no stores.  Couldn’t get my ice cream in Mesopotamia, but the girls in bonnets sitting in front did direct me to the town well to get water.  I can’t remember the last time I ran a hand pump, but it was on the cape at the family camp.

Medina to Ashtabula, OH 030

After Mesopotamia I was off to the bike path that would take me from route 87 to Ashtabula.  It was just down the road a few miles and and the road was enjoyably quiet.  A short time later there it was in all it’s traffic free beauty.  Within the first few miles I passed some people heading my direction and ended up picking one of them up.  He was in jeans and on a mountain bike so I never expected him to stick, but he did.

After five or so miles of him tagging along, I decided that I might as well get some info from this guy.  That didn’t work to well because it was his first time on the path too.  So off we went, talking about this and that, then it turned to politics.  Hmmm… this could go either way.  I let him go for a while then gave him a quick primer in economics theory and the value of the free market and a few other tidbits to chew on.  Hopefully I sparked some thought.

As we were chatting I passed my expected mileage of 80 so I was looking for a place to stay.  I had intended to pitch on the side of the path out of sight somewhere, but while this guy was with me I didn’t want to stop.  Figuring he would get tired and want to turn around soon I just kept going and so did he.  At 98 miles for the day a campground showed up right on the side of the path, with hot showers no less.  Is there a reason for everything???

Chatted with another pair of cyclists upon entering the park, then headed in to set up.  The sun was already sitting on the horizon so I needed to do some quick work to setup camp, call home, shower, eat and all before the mosquitoes came a calling.  I didn’t get it all done before the skeeters found me but it was done in the end.

While I was eating the folks came back to their site that is located, essentially, right next to me.  I though they were very quiet when I was setting up and that was why I selected the location.  Well they were quiet because they weren’t there.  Medina to Ashtabula, OH 018While I’m writing this they returned and have been getting louder as they continue to imbibe.  I was worried they’d be at it all night, but I moved into their neighborhood so I will adapt.   But oh what do I hear, the hooves of eight tiny reindeer?  No it’s just rain, party’s over.   Nighty Night my partying friends!!!

I pezzed someone on the path today, got the pez back, I’m so Ohio cool.

Oh yeah, one more thing I hate to admit, but in the spirit of full disclosure, I dumped off my bike one more time for a total of 3 now.  Another zero speed fall.  Clipped in left, not even a pedal stroke, over to the left.  This time I took a little skin off the left elbow, silly me.  But I was very entertained by the color of the blood and the wound.  I have never seen anything as bright red before.  I would almost call it pink, it was almost fluorescent.  Should have gotten a photo.

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Great ride today.  Continued on the nice roads with low traffic for the most part.  Got out about 17 miles to Fredericktown and found a place to have breakfast.  Came through the door to the clang of bells hung on it.  Got the “ya ain’t from round here” look from everyone.  Never to let that slow me down I yelled hello to everyone and moved on.Delaware to Medina, OH 001

Didn’t rush through breakfast taking some time to complete yesterdays blog and upload photos.  Finally headed back to the bike only to be cornered by one of the guys who were the restaurant.  He regaled me with stories of his glory days on the bike.  Nice guy but he never took a breath to allow me to get the ol’ “gotta get going” in.  It took a half hour or so, but he finally got bored with me and let me go.  I went back in to get water bottles filled when the owner let me know he (the guy outside) does that to every biker he sees.  Would have been nice to know that ahead of time.

The road surfaces were nice and it was pretty hilly for a good portion.  Not those nice pitches like Colorado, no much steeper.  They weren’t too long maybe 2/10 to 1/4 miles, but there were a lot of them, one after another.Delaware to Medina, OH 004

Pulled into Wooster around 3:30 and stopped for lunch at a little summer time diner.  Struck up a conversation with a couple on a motorcycle.  After we went through the usual bike trip stuff.  They started talking about a boat they have at a marina in Erie.  Turns out they have the exact boat Cyndy and I have.  Got some mileage out of that one.  As it started raining I was still ready to talk boats for hours longer but they were not interested in getting wet.  They managed to pry themselves from my grip and get on their bike before I could stop them.  Meanwhile the help had taken the umbrellas down off the deck and I was left to weather the showers on my own.  Hmm, fine, I’ll go!

Stopped at a grocery store a couple of blocks up and re-provisioned, but forgot to fill water bottles.   As I rode through suburbia I kept looking for a spigot to fill bottles (yes Californians, the rest of the country drinks form the spigot) so I would be comfortable were ever I landed.  Finally found a commercial building and filled everything.  Wooster is a nice town with a lot of  colonial architecture.  I have been here before, maybe 10 years (or more) ago I interviewed for a job at Stahl. 

Headed out of Wooster for Seville.  That would put me right at the numbers I am shooting for.  Unfortunately they were pretty proud of there rooms, even the campground was over the top at forty dollars per night.  Being cheap I continued to ride and ended up looking at the largest array of non-designated campsites of any evening on this trip.  From churches to empty lots to cemeteries, for one reason or another I just couldn’t close the deal.  In the end trying to find an off piste place to stay was taking far too much time and I was running out of it.

Here’s some residents of a one campsite I looked at.

Delaware to Medina, OH 006

I headed for Medina, just ten miles up the road were I negotiated a room for $19 more than the campground wanted for a tent site and I had a hot shower and a restaurant to eat at while I composed the blog entry.

Great day to be out biking.  I woke this morning feeling refreshed and rested after taking the afternoon off yesterday and getting to bed much earlier than I have been.  My eyes actually opened on their own rather than having to get out the pry bar.

I was excited to get on the bike, I had spent some time looking over the bike paths in the area and one paralleled my route for the first 30+ miles.  When I turned onto the path there was another rider stopped so I took the opportunity to ask some questions.  He was very familiar with the route and confirmed my research.  I was off for a nice relaxing morning cruise.

Xenia to Delaware, OH 001

The path was paved and crossed through some beautiful agricultural ground and neighborhoods with acres of turf (a benefit of rain all year long) and of course the ranches with silos and barns. The wind came up directly behind me again today thanks for the front that’s hanging just to the east.  Today I was able to take full advantage of the wind.

Although the ride was fast I took some time to enjoy.  There were plenty of riders on the trail and I took a moment to chat with a family as I passed.  They had been doing trips out of Xenia with their kids camping out on various trails and heading back to give them some time to play.

While I was zooming down the path and saying hello to other riders as they passed going in the opposite direction, I realized that the painful look on some of their faces could be the direct result of the wind I am so fully enjoying.  One gentleman did wave as he passed but he looked like he had just eaten some really spicy food.  I could hardly tell where his red helmet ended and his face started.  So I’m glad I’m not going south.

I reached London all to quickly, it was here I would need to rejoin the highway.  As I passed a rest stop I saw a sign post that looked like it had path info so I began stopping and at the same time, heard someone yelling to me.

As I turned to go back there were 3 gentlemen walking out to meet me.  They asked me if I was the guy riding the underground railroad trail.  I was a bit surprised and really didn’t know how to answer that.  Turns out these guys sat on the board for the local paths and the guy I had spoke to in Xenia, at the beginning of the path, was also a board member.  He had phoned them and asked them to keep an eye out for me.

Xenia to Delaware, OH 007

Check out this original 1800 something bike, wood spokes and steel wheels.

They invited me in for lunch at the center located right there and we talked about all things bike and one guy convinced me to stay on the trail to the end and then follow some different road to Plain City.  This turned out great, I was on back country farm roads with little traffic and plenty to look at.

Stopped for a second lunch in Plain City, still not sure why.  I had just eaten an hour before.  Guess I was thinking there wouldn’t be any place to eat ahead.  It gave me a minute to review my afternoon route and that was fine.

More very nice country road to enjoy all the way to the south border of Delaware.  I stopped at a gas station a bit before the city to grab a soda and met Ken, the owner.  He was an older gent and had all his family running around taking care of the place.  I got to meet his granddaughter and wife and we talked about life philosophy and politics and the power of the mind to heal.  Yup, all over the place, very nice guy, he gave me the paper and my drink and sent me on my way.

Zoomed up the road into Delaware at an unbelievable speed and got dumped right into the highway exchange in the middle of town.  Usually I like the highway, but here I was making some transitions and found it a bit more stressful.  The whole mess was only a mile at most so I’m sure there was a better way to get around it.  In the end all was good and I headed back out into the countryside.  More rural residential properties that were so well maintained.

Xenia to Delaware, OH 006

I checked off another 10 or 15 miles while thinking about a stopping spot for the night.  As I slowed to turn onto route 656, I looked left and there was the perfect camping spot.  Out of sight and mowed.  So I pulled in to take a gander.  Talk about all the comforts of home, there was even a clear running stream. As the sun went down I even had fire flies again.

Xenia to Delaware, OH 020

The only thing wrong was no cell service to upload the blog and location info.  Not much of a problem, I suppose that can wait until tomorrow.

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Decided last night that a new rear tire is mandatory so I waited until 10 am for the nearby shop to open.  They had a very limited supply but one that would work, so I was in business without going off route.  You know I like that.

They delay also allowed me to watch a couple of morning showers go by without getting wet.  The front that has been on my rear for days has now taken residence on top.  I have been watching the weather RADAR trying to pick the best departure time or determine if I should take today as a rest day.

The morning has been relaxing but the downside, of course, is that it’s now approaching 12pm and I haven’t been on the bike today.  As I finish lunch/breakfast the clouds are breaking and it’s time to go.

The route for today was selected, again, because it appeared to be small untraveled roads.  I couldn’t be more wrong.  Small shoulder lots of traffic.  I definitely miss Kansas.  As I passed Lebanon route 42 traffic load calmed markedly and the shoulder widened.  The rest of the ride was more calm.Fairfield to Xenia, OH 002

As I rode over an overpass a couple of miles south of Xenia I saw a bike path below.  I stopped and asked Alice what she knew about it but she wasn’t talking.  When I got to Xenia I found the path and the fact that I could have been riding on it for a large portion of the day, Bummer.  But I also found it goes to the next town on tomorrows agenda, so that’s a plus.

Today was short and tough for me.  I never warmed up (muscles) and even the little climbs were tough.  I also had a 10 + MPH wind behind  me that should have elevated my average, but it never happened.  I don’t know if it was just an off day or a more chronic issue with the pace I’ve been maintaining.

So 50 miles to Xenia and I was sitting by 5pm.

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bike trip, bike tour, cross-country, camp, bike, travel, transcontinental, Raleigh

Stepped out this morning to get breakfast to find the ground wet and the sky partly cloudy.  The forecast again being for scattered thunderstorms, I wondered just what was going on to the west.  The front that has been on my tail for a week continues the threaten to pass but somehow I’m keeping pace with it.  Oh well, today my be the rain day.

I continue to think about the weather as I mow down every carbohydrate that is on the continental breakfast counter while simultaneously finishing off all the milk that is available.  Sorry other guests!

I wander, wondering as return to my room, is today a rest day?  I mess around the room a little reading the paper and cleaning up while I looked at the RADAR for the area, a couple dozen times.  Then looked out the window, clearing let’s go.

The road conditions were great leaving Seymour and I made my way down the road at a pleasingly calm pace, thanks’ to the wide shoulder and plenty of time.  I was thinking about nothing in particular when a black pickup came by at the usual pace, nothing unusual but for some reason it caught my attention.

It may have been the little black and white dog staring at me from the passenger side window as it went by.  When the truck moved a little ahead the dog switched to the rear window, perfectly framed by the edges of the glass.  He didn’t take his eyes off me as long as I could see him.  Now none of us need to be dog whisperers to know what was going through his head… “just let me out at the next light, he’s going slow enough, I can latch on to that ankle and go for one heck of a ride.  Growling and carrying on, oh what fun”  It was my good fortune that he never got the chance.

I stopped in the little town of Versailles for lunch and met a couple of mountain bikers who work in the area and ended up sitting with them while we ate.  They had some great information about the area and gave me some tips about getting around Cincinnati.  Some of their advice seemed to be focused on where the best party was so I had to pass on that, but they did put me on another bike path that bypassed two large towns and took me along the Ohio River for a bit.Seymore, IN to Fairfield, OH 003

When I pulled into Aurora, IN I was stopped at a light and had a full trip conversation with two guys in the car beside me.  When the light changed I took the turn and started on the path.  This took me along the Ohio River where I had an opportunity to have another lunch and relax a bit by the water.  I really wanted to jump in the river and I hate having to wonder whether it is safe.

As I was coming off the bike path there was a thunderstorm to the west with it’s sights obviously set on me.  Seymore, IN to Fairfield, OH 012I called up NOAA (web page) for some advice and decided to make a run for it.  In the end I ducked under the overhang of a Restaurant  right at the Ohio border minutes before the heaviest rain came.  My feet my have been damp but otherwise I just watched it all go by. I didn’t entirely waste the time, I took the opportunity to write some blog stuff.

I started to pack up as the sky brightened andSeymore, IN to Fairfield, OH 010  the rain stopped but as I walked around the west side of the building to see what was happening another round came in and I sat for a few more minutes staring at the motel right next door.  You bet I considered it!  The next place to stay was 30 miles away and it was already 4 pm.  In the end I pushed on not willing to hang it up yet.

Up the road about a half hour I turned on route 128 a road that would start me out on a great loop of the metro area.  There were a couple of sandwich shops on the corner and I new there would be no stores for the next couple of hours so stopped in one and struck up a conversation with the owners.

Always looking to the locals for a better way around, I asked about my intended routing and got a lot of bad news.  I really let them get into my head and I became anxious about the route and they had no alternates.  I spoke to two other cronies and they weren’t entirely encouraging but they had a better outlook.

Without a better way I struck out on 128 as planned, holding my breath.  Well once again I have learned about taking input with a grain of salt.  128 was not the worst road I have been on, not even close and when I took my next turn only 6 miles up the road, my route turned to a beautiful rural trail that was wonderful.  In fact there was even other riders out there.

One gentleman called to me, as he tried to catch up, so he could talk about my trip and I ended up helping him repair his bike.  That took 45 minutes and now It was 6:45 and I still had an hour and a half of riding to go.  He offered to put me up for the night but he lived an hour off my intended course and I just couldn’t justify it so I took my leave and headed for Fairfield.

Speaking of Fairfield, I have traveled the world today and I only rode 90 miles.  I was in Versailles, Utah, Kansas. Nebraska and Texas.  Don’t try this at home, I’m a trained professional.

Under the title of no good deed goes unpunished, as I pulled away from helping the guy with his chain, I had a flat.  Got that fixed and here comes a big thunderstorm.  Spent the next 90 minutes running from the storm, lightening and all. Seymore, IN to Fairfield, OH 014

So I went screaming through the country side only to find another bridge out, but there was a storm bearing down and I wasn’t taking no for an answer.  It took little manhandling, and shoes full of dirt, to get the bike over the construction but I was back on track and running like a scared school girl.  Managed to pedal, ask Alice about hotel accommodations and call the hotel to get rates all while dodging rain drops.  Once again don’t try this at home.

I went skidding in to the hotel and ducked under the cover and believe it or not nothing happened.  The storm ended up slipping by to the north and all that running was for nothing.  Now it’s time to relax, pez to you.

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Late start today, spent the morning chatting with some folks while I stuffed down the wonderful continental breakfast at the Econolodge.  Asked Alice about an easy way back to 50 and ended up exiting town on a great back road that lead to 50 east of town.

50 was a fantastic concrete surface with a wide shoulder and I was enjoying the conditions, until the rumble strips showed up.  Unlike, other states where the strip is parallel to the lane of travel, this one covered the width of the shoulder lane for about 3 feet.  So for 20 miles it was brump…brump… brump.  I’m going brumping crazy.Vincennes to Seymore, IN 001

Stopped in Washington, IN for brunch at the KFC and chatted with the ladies behind the counter for a few.  Nice bunch.  The landscaper dude couldn’t understand why I would want to ride across the country.  He thought insanity may be the answer.

Hit the road on the east side of town to find a very busy section of the highway but plenty of shoulder, for a while.  As always the shoulder disappeared and the traffic didn’t and for the next couple of hours I was wondering what I was doing on this road.  The road surface was the same as so many other miles of 50 but there was much too much commercial traffic.  Finally got to the 50/60 split and most of the traffic was gone and I could enjoy the ride once again.  This lasted all the way to SeymoreVincennes to Seymore, IN 004

Arrived in Bedford, this town seemed as good as any to have lunch and take a short break so I stopped at a little diner on the outskirts. I relaxed in the back for at least 45 minutes.  Filled in the girls behind the counter on my trip, they couldn’t resist asking, after I had taken up residency.   Topped off the fuel tanks and the water bottles and decided 4pm was too early to stop so packed up and shoved off again.  The wind was behind me and I didn’t want to miss one second of that rarity so I targeted Brownstown 28 miles away as my destination.

I was adamant about not staying in a hotel tonight knowing that tomorrow I would be in the vicinity of Cincinnati and there would be no way to camp.  To my surprise there were two or three camp grounds before Brownstown but I wanted the full distance.  I had already decided I would just camp in a corn field and that would be good enough.Vincennes to Seymore, IN 002

Well Brownstown, came and there was still plenty of light and Seymour was only 10 miles up the road so off I went.  Seymour was a much larger town than I was expecting.  With the main street, route 50, stretching several miles with retail on both sides.  I kept I eye out for somewhere to eat because I didn’t want to have to go back out after showering, a time saving tactic.  Been thinking about Chinese for a couple of days so that’s what it was.

Quick in and out, made some phone calls about a room and off I went. Less than in hour in town and I was fed and showered and ready for bed.  So maybe you’re wondering what happened to my commitment to camping????  It went out the window when a passed the 100 mile mark for the day and there was few prospects for camping.  There was a shower out there with my name on it.

sign

Here’s a riddle for you today.  I have seen this sign a couple of times and I think it means one thing and I am wrong.  What do you think it means?

 

I had no idea what the weather was gong to be this morning.  According to the weather forecasters last night, I thought the morning would probably be a washout with a late morning departure.  The light coming through the edges of the shades confirmed a cloudy start so I didn’t really get motivated right away as the alarm rang.

When I finally did pull the shade back the sky was clear, the dim lighting the result of a tree right outside the window and the south facing window.  Oops, now I feel like I’m behind schedule.  Hit the road after a large continental breakfast to find a 10 mph south wind.  The wind would stay around all day and gave me a boost Salem, IL to Vincennes, IN 008 for the most part as the road wound.

Today’s ride was much more like I was used to in Kansas.  3’ or larger shoulder, fewer cars and farmland on both sides.  The terrain had a very nice roll to it changing up the effort level which was much appreciated.

I passed a couple of oil wells out there today and several had the low speed, single horizontal cylinder engines from Arrow Engine.  Salem, IL to Vincennes, IN 006 What I find so intriguing about these engines is that they show up at the farm machinery shows in Woodland and Sacramento as antiques and here they are in production.  Took a video too so I could record the puffing and spitting noises these make as the cylinder firing is suspended when the engine is up to speed and only fires on strokes requiring power to restore minimum RPM.  Some of you are wondering why I’m so excited about this, if I have to explain you won’t get it.

Salem, IL to Vincennes, IN 001

Crossed the Wabash River today which is the border between Illinois and Indiana in this area just 4 miles out of Vincennes .  Stopped to take my required state line photos.  What I didn’t know was that the boarder was also the last time zone change as well.  I knew that the time zone changes at various points in the state, but didn’t find out how the change worked in this area until I checked into the hotel.

Salem, IL to Vincennes, IN 010Just after crossing the boarder the highway split into 50 and business 50.  I continued on I-50 about one half mile then decided to ask Alice about the route.  She recommended business 50.  Now I had a bit of a problem.  I needed to get back on B-50 and that required me to go backwards.  The correct course of action would be to go to the next exit and turn around but that would add far too many miles, so I have a choice; ride back on the highway to the exit or hang a right on the exit coming up.  Either way I was going a against traffic and the law, oops.  Figured I would go the wrong way on the exit because it has less traffic and what’s the chance of seeing a cop in the two minutes it will take to complete this maneuver anyway?  Pretty darn good it turns out.  Half way down the exit and a cop drives by on business 50 and stares me down.  Crap, I hope he doesn’t turn around!  He didn’t and I got to the highway and crossed onto the correct side and continued on my way.

Coming into Vincennes there was a lot of construction on the highway, at the exit I wanted and on the surface street below.  In fact, the exit I needed was closed, so once again I pulled a horror.  Down the exit and took a left, wrong side, wrong direction. 

Just like yesterday the storm front that has been looming off to the north west was still there.  By the time I left this morning it had filled in overhead, but once again I rode out from under it.  The day yielded to mostly sunny cumulous clouds and remained that way throughout.

After cleaning up tonight I listened to the weather and again the forecast is for rain tonight,.  When I stepped out for dinner the front was visible in the north west sky once again.

I am amazed by the fact I have not been run over by this storm.  Grateful, but amazed just the same.  Looks like the low isn’t moving very fast yet and the rain producers keep developing and moving to the north east.  Will it move by to the north before I make my turn to the north east at the end of the week?  Time will tell.

Today was terribly mundane, probably not a bad thing.

Equipment report:

The machinery is still working as expected/hoped/designed.  Can’t beat that.  So you may be thinking, the heavier bike may have been the ticket and I have been wondering that too.  How close to failure do you want your equipment to be engineered?

I still think the frame of our bikes is too heavy.  I see other much lighter bikes out here making the trek without failure.  The Surly Long Haul Trucker I checked out a couple of days ago was probably 8 pounds +/- lighter.  That’s just short of a 9% weight reduction for me, better for less equipped rider.

At the same time I wouldn’t give up the heavier wheel set.  We have heard of several wheel failures and after the Katy and some of the roads to the east of Saint Louis, the extra strength is welcomed.

The disk breaks have also worked very well.  This is the first bike I have had with them and I had no idea how fast they would wear or how much heating they would take without warping.  Again all is fine here too.  I was worried when I had them smoking hot on the backside of Carson Pass, but no issues since.  I still think they are undersized for full load touring in the sierra because of the pitches there.  It may also have been that the wind was with us there as well so extra breaking was required.  We were not that fortunate with the wind thing crossing the rest of the ranges.

Bags, racks, camping equipment all running as expected.

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