Monthly Archives: July 2011

Day 26: Sunday July 31th. Austinburg, OH to Erie, PA – 49 miles (plus 20)


Our ride today was glorious! Coming out of Austinburg, we got off the streets and onto an extremely well maintained bike path.

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Peggy and I made a slight detour to see the historic Hubbard House, one terminus of the Underground Railroad. The house is now a museum, but it wasn’t opened on Sunday morning.

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Slaves were hidden in the hayloft in a barn on the property, waiting for a boat to take them across the lake to Canada. standing behind the house, looking out towards the lake, I was struck by the weight of the history of this piece of property. How many eyes saw this view, and knew that freedom was within reach.

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We took advantage of the stop to take the first of two library pictures today.

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We crossed the Ashtabula River, and looked out onto scenic views.

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And dozens of train cars loaded with coal.

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The road surfaces were good, the weather was perfect. We needed a challenge.

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We had been warned that a bridge might be out. It was. But it was Sunday, so we took matters into our own hands, and embarked on an epic portage.

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It was a little scary when we heard train whistles. Yu couldn’t really see around the bend when you were crossing the tracks.
As a reward for our efforts, we got to ride for miles on an essentially empty road. We didn’t get traffic until a maintain street intersected several miles down the road. Soon we entered Pennsylvania.

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When we got tired, we contemplated putting an offer in on this vehicle.

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As we approached Erie, we made a quick stop at Mason’s Fruit Stand.

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We bought peaches and nectarines and ate them on the spot.

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Another library stop.

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We arrived at the hotel around noon, far too early to check in.
The desk clerk sent us to a local favorite restaurant, Sara’s for lunch. Sara’s is unique.

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Hot dogs are featured prominently on the menu.

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Well fueled, we decided to explore the park at Presque Isle. It happened to be “Presque Isle Days” and so the Park was crowded. But the bike path, a 13.5 mile circuit of the peninsula, was terrific. We passed various amusements for children, including this scary guy.

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There were food vendors, music, and different activities at each of the beaches. This was the kite beach.

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We rode to Perry Point, at the far end of the peninsula.

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This picture of Sherry stopped on the bike path gives you a sense of how close we were to the water.

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As lovely as Pennsylvania has proven to be, we are off to NY in just a few short hours.

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Day 25: Saturday July 30th. Cleveland, OH to Austinburg, OH – 57 miles


Yesterday was a “rest day” in Cleveland. I didn’t post because I was too busy exploring Cleveland. One of the riders had arranged a private Trolley tour for us. It was a great way to get into the beautiful neighborhoods. The tour lasted 3 hours and featured stops at the Cleveland Botanical Garden and at the small airport on the lake where we got to see the special “Women in Aviation” exhibit.
I spent the afternoon enthralled at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It is a terrific museum, in a beautiful building, featuring multimedia presentations of the music that shaped my young adulthood.
In the evening we hung out at the Doubletree. Karina painted her nails in the lobby.

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But this morning we were eager to get back on our bikes.
With another short day scheduled, we left late and stopped often.
Early in the day we rode on the Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway.

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When the Bikeway ended, we rode on Lakeshore Blvd.
The terrain featured lots of swoops and dips, which were a ton of fun. We passed through lots of little towns, and rode with more traffic than we have been used to lately.
At one point we rode to the top of a ridge, and had great views looking down.

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The pavement was rough, and demanded vigilance. Nevertheless, we got to see a vineyard (the first of many in the next couple of weeks) and a couple of orchards. I saw one field of corn today, but we have mostly left it behind.
Our favorite town today was Madison.
There was a statue.

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And a pretty neat corner building.

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Because of the short day, we arrived in Austinburg too early to check into our hotel, so we headed to Mr. C’s for a perch sandwich, and then to Mrs. C’s for Pierre ‘s ice cream.
Linda is in the kitchen tonight, to Michelle’s great relief
Tonight is our last night in Ohio. Onward to Pennsylvania. We left the lake behind today to ride up in the hills, but tomorrow we will return to the lake with a stop in Erie.

Day 24: Thursday July 28th. Huron, OH to to Cleveland, OH – 55 miles


Today was a magical day. In Huron we had reached Lake Erie (go figure) and today we rode along the lake all day, mostly on a single road, US 6 East. It wasn’t a long day, and we were feeling no pressure. We rode on a light rain, which served to cool down a rather hot day.
We passed Old Woman Creek, and stopped for a picture.

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Most of us are “old women” so it seemed fitting.
We also paused at the Ritter Library, so I could take another in my series of “libraries that I have ridden past on bike rides.”

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We stopped for snacks.

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We crossed the Black River.

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And made friends of some fellow long distance cyclists. We posed with a group that is part of the American Lung Association’s Big Ride.

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Our first SAG stop was in a beautiful park on the Lake. These seagulls were hanging out on the beach.

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The park had a lovely rose garden.

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About ten miles later, Peggy was craving a latte, and we stopped for coffee.

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Shortly thereafter, disaster struck. Well, a minor disaster. Peggy got a dreaded rear flat. She set out to change it, while I provided moral support, documentation, a CO2 cartridge, and a package of makeup remover sheets (makeup must have a lot in common with bicycle grease.)

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Luckily, the SAG wagon came along, and Jean provided a real pump.

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After we struggled for a few minutes trying to reseat the wheel, Susan and Jan, tire change experts extraordinaire, happened along, and Susan popped it right in (after Jan reminded us that we needed to open up the brake.)

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But the highlight of the day was still ahead of us. Two of the women on the trip live in Rocky River, on our route to Cleveland. There husbands conspired to host a picnic in our honor at the Cleveland Yacht Club.
We assembled at a park just west of Rocky River.

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And then we rode as a group to Debby’s house, where we posed for a picture on her back porch.

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This is Debby, her husband Jay, and her daughter Jess.

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From there we received a police escort to the Yacht Club, where we were greeted like Olympians by a large throng of Debby and Sue’s family and friends.
There was a bounteous feast, with dozens of different salads and desserts. Jay turned out mountains of hamburgers and hot dogs.

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And we had our own poster.

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And a celebratory cake.

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It was an extraordinary outpouring of friendship and good will, and will remain one of my most vivid memories of the trip.
The one dark cloud in a wonderful day is that our guide Carol is leaving us here. In her honor, (and because the Doubletree in downtown Cleveland might have objected to our usual practice of cooking and eating dinner in the parking lot) we ate dinner at a restaurant.
Peggy and I prepared a song for the occasion. I am including it here, since several riders have asked for the lyrics. The song is sung to the tune of “Consider Yourself.”

We consider ourselves well led.
We consider ourselves well provided for.
When Carole is in the lead,
We’re sure we’ll have everything we need.

She explains the cues which sometimes are confusing,
And she gets us on our way.
We all agree her stories are amusing,
And that is why we say…

We consider ourselves well tuned.
We consider ourselves well adjusted.
We don’t have to feat a flat,
Because she taught us how to deal with that.

In her cowboy hat she rallies us to ride again,
Never matter what the temp.
She never reward on rest days if we need a lift,
To the bike store or the town.

We consider ourselves well led.
We consider ourselves on track.
And after some consideration we can say…
We all hope you’ll be back!

Here we are during the “performance.”

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Thank you Carole. We are going to miss you.

Day 22: Wednesday July 27th. Bowling Green, OH to Huron, OH – 68 miles


Today was a windy day. If you have ever flown over this part of the country, you will have noticed that it is a geometric patchwork of farm fields. The roads are mostly straight, and intersect at regular intervals. Hence, when you travel by bike in a generally northeast direction, as we were today, you make your way through a series of steps. Left for a mile or so, and then right at the next cue. Today no matter which way we turned we encountered either a headwind or a crosswind. It was tiring the way that slow climbing is tiring.
Still, it was a lovely day. The weather was hot but not humid. We set out with enthusiasm, only to encounter the first challenge of the day.

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Fortunately, we have recently honed our portaging skills.

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This picture is for my grandson Orin.

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We passed the Gibsonburg Library, which, because of budget cuts, was not open.

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And paused before the cheerful orange water tower.

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In the town of Fremont, we crossed the Sandusky River.

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Then we had the pleasure of riding for more than 8 miles on the North Coast Inland Bike Trail, a really well maintained bike path. We rode past an entire team of high school cross country runners. It made me think of my Andover kids, and realize that no matter how fabulous summer is, I’ll be happy to have them return to campus in the fall.
Ohio seems to be one of the last bastions of manufacturing in this country. We rode through the Whirlpool factory on the bike trail, and passed several other gigantic factories just outside of Clyde. At one of them, we saw a different kind of “hay bale.”

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At one point we could see a group of riders ahead, stopped and off of their bikes. What appeared to be a very large dog was in the road. Peggy armed herself with her Halt, and we approached cautiously, ready to rescue our friends from the marauding animal. But we we got close enough, we realized that the “dog” was in fact a small, frightened calf that had somehow escaped from his pen. A phone call was made, the owner notified, and the ride resumed.
We saw lots of birds today, in part due to the changing landscape. There are trees here, and wetlands. Last week, we passed through vast expanses with absolutely no birds (nor visible or audible insects.). It was likely the result of the spraying of the corn and beans with insecticide. No bugs equals no bug-eating birds. It was nice to have them back today. We saw several blue herons and a gorgeous white egret. Plus a flock of hundreds of red-winged blackbirds.
We passed two apple orchards, and a field of unknown cultivars. We also passed several newly turned fields, ready for a second crop. So what, you say. That’s because you haven’t pedaled through hundreds of miles of corn fields. Change is good.
At the end of the trip, we were happy to arrive in Erie County.

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We are spending the night at a Motel 6.
We do not camp on this trip, but we do not stay in fancy hotels.
Our hotels may be classified into four groups.
There are REALLY GOOD hotels, like the Raddison, where we stayed in Fargo, and the Bar Harbor Grand Hotel, where we will celebrate the end of the ride. These hotels are notable for amenities such as decent shampoo and conditioner, and excellent “linen packages.”
There are GOOD hotels, such as the Holiday Inn Express, and the Doubletree. We often have good hotels for our rest days. These hotels have somewhat pared back amenities, but are very comfortable.
Most of the time we stay in FINE hotels. These are Super 8, Motel 6, Best Western, and AmericInns. These hotels provide shampoo but not conditioner, and the towels are not fluffy.
Sometimes, where there are simply no better options, we stay in hotels that are BETTER THAN CAMPING. These are hotels without shampoo, with soap the size of a postage stamp, no hair dryers, and gym towels. But they are better than camping!
Moving to a new hotel every riding day can leave you a little disoriented. I have discovered an excellent new use for my iPhone–it serves as flashlight to guide me to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Thanks, Apple.

Day 21: Tuesday July 26th. Defiance OH to Bowling Green, OH – 49 miles


When we learned at the map meeting last night that our ride today was less than fifty miles, my first thought was “Is there a mountain in NW Ohio that I didn’t know about?” But no, the terrain remained flat with rollers. The short ride today was simply a gift. A rolling rest day.
To celebrate, we voted to have a late (8:00) start. Since we have been needing to get going at first light during the heat wave, this was the height of luxury.
Yesterday we passed through a town called Payne, and ended in Defiance. So it was fitting that when we left Defiance this morning we headed to Independence. This has been the life journey for many of us. There are no dependent women on this trip. Many of us are attached, by choice, but none of us are dependent.
The weather at 8:00 was absolutely perfect for riding. It was about 69 and the humidity was much lower than it has been. We rode for a few miles along the Maumee River until we came to Independence State Park.

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Amazingly, this was the site of one of the locks for the Erie Canal.

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Ellen checked out the historical marker.

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And then we rode on to the dam.

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If you look very carefully in this picture, you can see a Great Blue Heron.

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The ride through the park was lovely. We had been warned that the park road ended in an “unimproved” tow path, but the opportunity to ride on the actual tow path of the Erie Canal was too cool to pass up. In the end it took all of my long-dormant mountain biking skills to navigate the ruts and roots.
Because the day was leisurely and the route passed though a number of small towns, MIchelle didn’t make breakfast at the trailer. Rather, we elected to eat in Napolean at about mile 18. We found a pub called Spengler’s in s lovely historic building.

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Inside, we got to know the members of the local coffee club.

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This group has been meeting regularly, 6 mornings per week, since 1973.
One breakfast burrito later, we headed to the Campbell Soup Factory.

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Campbell makes V8, our favorite electrolyte replacement drink. We consume gallons of it at each SAG stop.
On the way to Grand Rapids, we passed this magnificent barn.

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Nancy picked a perfect spot for our second SAG stop.

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Her playlist was awesome, and we were rocking out as we filled our water bottles in preparation for our last 15 miles.
I loved this close up view of a railroad bridge.

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Tonight we are in Bowling Green, home of Bowling Green State University. Amazingly, we are near the half way point of our trip.

Day 20: Monday July 25th. Huntington, IN to Defiance OH – 83 miles


When we left this morning, we rode the first 20 miles through a mist curtain. We didn’t just have a cloud cover, we were in an actual cloud. It felt wonderful after the heat we’ve had.
At mile 30 we were unaccountably thrilled to pass a convenience store. I liked this truck.

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Katie and Karina rested on a wall.

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We passed a bison farm with eight babies, the oldest born on my birthday. And we passed this plane. There was no identifying plaque, but I thought it was photo worthy.

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Because we were leaving Indiana today, I thought that I’d take one last breadbasket picture.

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At about mile 40, we came to State Line Road. For several miles we rode along, able to look to our right and see Ohio, and look to our left into Illinois. When we turned into Ohio, the two riders from Ohio get really excited.

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Today’s ride was fairly flat, but it offered a fair amount of variety relative to our previous days of corn followed by corn. Because we skirted Fort Wayne, we passed through actual suburbs. A lot of people had ponds. Where were they on the really hot days? We definitely could have put them to good use. We passed another wind farm.

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It was pretty gusty today, and the wind was usually against us.
By mile 62 we were ready for lunch so we stopped in Paulding at the Past Time Cafe.

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After lunch it had gotten pretty hot, and the final 20 miles featured two road closures (with one associated portage) and some bad traffic coming into Defiance. Defiance is of course named after the famous saying of General Mad Anthony Wayne “I defy the British, the Indians, and all the devils in hell to take it.”
Defiance has a college, called The Defiance College.

20110725-052644.jpg That could lend itself to all sorts of word plays concerning sending ones children for education in defiance. When I stopped to take this picture, the marching band was practicing, and I waited awhile to listen to them.
Tonight my roommate is Susan, who I rode with on the Southern Tier.

Day 19: Sunday July 24th. Logansport, IN to Huntington, IN – 71 miles


Today’s challenge was the humidity rather than the heat. The humidity was 93 percent. The temperature only reached 91. Not that that is cool, but our standards have definitely shifted. We also had a helpful cloud cover, some nice breezes, and a manageable 71 mile ride.
Carolyn picked an excellent spot for our first SAG stop.

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We headed out from the SAG in small groups. I love to look up ahead and see other riders.

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It was hot enough today that this sign was bitterly ironic.

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For a change of pace today, we left the flats behind and enjoyed some dips and rises. We also got to ride several wonderful, shady miles in the Salamonie State Forest.

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We passed the dam.

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And had beautiful views both directions going over the bridge.

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And today we had plenty of time to take pictures.
I liked this building coming into Huntington, although I am not sure what it is.

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We are riding across Indiana in two days, not counting our rest day. Tomorrow we tackle Ohio!