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Archive for June, 2011

Hello, Lake Erie!

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Just a quick post to say that I’m in Oberlin, Ohio, hoping to catch up on food and some much-needed rest. Since leaving Cincinnati on Friday, I’ve been pulling 65 mile days. Yesterday included the first major hills on my route and a nasty 15-12 mph headwind. Otherwise, however, I’m having a great time! Ohio’s state park system has some very nice camping, and absolutely every single person that I’ve talked to has been super friendly.

Might have more to say tomorrow, *if* I can manage to load some photos. Today I’d rather spend some time filling up on food, doing laundry, and maybe finding about 50 ft of shock cord somewhere…

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All ready to start. Everything is still clean!

I think that I’d forgotten just how friendly and polite people could be. It’s not that I don’t know polite Texans. However, when I headed off down the bike path in Columbus on Sunday morning, every single person I met looked me in the eye, smiled, and said, “Good morning!” When I lived here, I thought that was normal human behavior. One could only wish.

So where am I now?

I got into Columbus, Ohio on Thursday. My aunt picked me up at the airport and I went to stay with her and my uncle for a few days. (Thanks again!) FedEx delivered my Surly to their house on Friday. I invested in a hardshell bike box for travel, and I’m really glad I did. The box was very scuffed up and all of the latches were open. Fortunately, I had taken the additional step of padlocking each of the four latches. At the time, I thought that maybe I was being paranoid, but those padlocks kept the box shut! I get the feeling that a cardboard box would have been ripped to shreds. As it is, my bike is just fine. Spent several hours putting it back together and finetuning on Friday.

Saturday I hopped on the bike and rode around Columbus. Took my cousin to lunch, met a friend for coffee, and then later my aunt, uncle and I all went to the Art Festival. The festival became very exciting (in a bad way) when a serious thunderstorm blew through. Lots of broken glass and smashed artwork. I was glad to not be camping just then.

Saturday at the festival I got supper at Schmidt's. A brat, German potato salad, beer, and an enormous cream puff were just the right amount food.

1/2 of a creampuff. It didn't last long.

Sunday morning I got to go to my old church, which I always miss, and then I hit the road around 2 PM. Google Maps said it would be 35 miles to my pre-arranged camp site. Decided that instead of heading down the city streets the whole way, I would hop on the 670 bikeway and use the trail system. It was a few miles longer, but would have lots less traffic. Everything went swimmingly right up until the moment when I hit the “Detour” sign. Spent over an hour mucking around Downtown trying to pick the bike path back up before finally cutting down Front Street to Greenlawn (glad it was Sunday and not rush hour on a work day!). After that things went better, but I lost a lot of time and didn’t get out to my camp site near London, Ohio, until 7 PM. By the time I made camp, went into town for pizza and bug spray, and got back, it was 10:30 PM and my 35 miles had ballooned to 65. That’s the most I’ve ever done in one day. I’m sure I’ll do more soon!

I arranged in advance to use a Boy Scout campground on Sunday night. Lots of mosquitos but otherwise very peaceful.

Trail head in London, Ohio. I lived in London for 3 awful months. Fortunately it is much nicer to visit than to live there. As a cyclist I've felt very welcome and comfortable in the small Ohio towns - the hospitality has been wonderful!

Due to the late bedtime, I decided to sleep until 7 on Monday morning. Got back on the road at 8 AM to ride to my parents’ house. Ohio has a very nice rail trail system, and I was able to use it for most of the day on Monday. I have mixed feelings about the bike trail. It is for the most part nicely maintained, although I did encounter some storm debris. Buttery smooth pavement, no cars, lots of shade, no hills… what’s not to like? Well, the signage is a bit inconsistant. In some counties, the cross roads are marked at intersections, but most of the time, if I’m looking for a road, I have to get off the trail and ride down a block or two to find a street sign. Imagine driving down an interstate highway with all unmarked exits. How do you know where to get off? Also, all of the straight, smooth, hill-less, car-free miles get really boring after a while. The trees on either side form a long green tunnel. Pedal, pedal, pedal… my back hurts, my big toe is numb, now my rear end is reminding me of those 65 miles yesterday, and on and on and on… Just as soon as I make a turn onto a regular city street, all of my aches and pains disappear because I’ve got other stuff to think about. I talked to a guy at a bike shop in Xenia who said that you could put in an “easy century” on the paths around here. (For any non-cycling readers, a century is a 100 mile ride.) Yes, it would be easy in terms on not having to climb lots of hills, and those trees would cut any headwinds quite nicely, but I think that I would go out of my mind from boredom. Monday was 42 miles total.

Tuesday and today, I’m hanging out at my parents’ house, resting, setting up a new computer for them, and attempting not to eat everything in sight. Mom’s lasagna is still the best 🙂

Covered bridge near my parents' house. I used to ride here when I was a kid!

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Landed in Columbus

Just a quick post to say that I got to Columbus all safe and sound yesterday, and am thrilled to pieces to be staying with my aunt and uncle for a few days.

My bike arrived via FedEx this morning. The hardshell bike box I bought did great. It is very scuffed up and all of the latches somehow came open (good thing I had small padlocks holding everything together!) but the bike is 100% fine. I have it all put back together now 🙂

I want to add a question and answer to the FAQ I posted a few days ago. Many people ask me know much weight I’m planning to lose on this tour. I’m not doing this for weight loss. I’m quite happy with my weight, and anyone who has seen me lately will tell you that I’m eating everything in sight!

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