Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bike America Day 59: Beautiful Sky, Steep Hill, and a Few Falls

Friday, August 10, 2012

Day's distance: 80.85 miles
Overall distance: 3,052 miles

I woke up to rain pattering on my tent Friday morning. My first thought was that this was a good excuse to sleep in and wait for it to pass. It stopped quickly, though, and my mom called from her other tent that we should get a move on before it started up again. My dad and I rolled out just after 8 and his first words were, “I hope we don’t start out with a lot of hills, I need an easy warm-up.” But our campsite was on a hill and then when we turned left out of the campground, we saw we were at the bottom of another. In Northwestern Ohio, the hills waited for no one to warm up.

About five miles in, I was looking up at the prettiest daytime sky I had seen the whole trip. The storm clouds were starting to separate so the clouds were puffy and full with all kinds of grays and whites spinning around each other. There was blue splotched throughout the clouds and the sun, in the middle of the sky, shone rays through in all directions. It was like a painting and I didn’t have my camera with me because of the rain so you’ll just have to use your imagination.

Here are some more pictures of our stormy campsite instead.

My dad was longing for coffee so we stopped in Hayesville and met my mom in a little café. While I sipped tea and we shared a western omelet, the skies opened up outside. Our bikes were poured on but we decided we’d picked a good time to stop and get a roof over our heads. The bar stools at the café were old milk jugs with tractor seats atop them.

When we left, it was still drizzling a little. We rode a few miles and as we crossed a busy highway, it resumed coming down really hard. We turned our lights on and soon it was so heavy that I couldn’t even see. I had been wearing sun glasses to keep my eyes dry but the water still managed to pour in them and I had to wipe the water away every two seconds. Luckily, my mom passed us so I stopped and grabbed a baseball cap from the car to wear under my helmet. It was a perfect solution.

The rain died down again and, riding on Old US30, also Lincoln Highway, we started to notice lots of yard sales. At first we were joking that these people must have a lot of junk to get rid of but then it started to get weird. Literally, almost every other house was having a yard sale. Even in the rain, people had erected tents or moved things to their garages to keep business going. On any other day, I would have loved to see what treasures I could find but, in the rain, it wasn’t exactly what I was in the mood for. We eventually received explanation on a sign that read “Lincoln Highway Garage Sales Aug 9, 10, 11.”

In a town, we passed one yard full of Amish or Menonite women in long dresses with bonnets selling baked goods. Up a hill outside of town, we passed a black horse-drawn carriage with a woman and two girls in the same kind of clothing inside. It was in the woods, still drizzling and felt like a scene straight out of Little Women.

At mile 30, we rode down into a valley and I yelled to my dad, “what goes down must come back up”. At the bottom, we rode across a creek in a valley and then began climbing what I think was the steepest hill of the entire trip. It was only half a mile long but it left me panting harder than I have all summer. It felt very good to finish but we had another steep hill immediately after. The sun was somewhat out and from the top of the second, the view behind us was incredible. Again, though, no camera.

We stopped at a cornfield for a bathroom break and I fell over trying to unclip my pedals. It was a very slow motion thing that I knew was coming but I couldn’t catch my balance. I was fine but my back brake got tight and my back rack started to make some noise. A few miles later, I rode over a deep crack and felt a heavy weight behind me. The screws holding the top of my backrack in had come out entirely and it fell backward onto the ground. I stopped and my dad then fell over trying to unclip too. He bruised his knee but was otherwise fine. I looked for the screws but couldn’t find them in the road and had no replacement so we called my mom for sag. I took the entire rack off and had to give up the ability to carry my camera for the next day and a half.

We were near Marshallville where we planned to meet back up for lunch. We sat under the city park’s pavilion and made three delicious sandwiches with tomato, brie, olive oil, vinegar and salt. And of course, I had a few spoonfuls of nutella to make sure I had enough calories in me.

My mom and I left in spite of the dark storm clouds overhead. It was already 3PM and we had 30 miles left to ride. Soon, we entered North Canton, a suburb of Canton which is a large city. We rode on too many busy streets and passed the Canton Akron International Airport. To make matters worse, it was Friday at rush hour so the cars were out in full force. We had very little shoulder and it was not a pleasant way to ride. I cheered when we got back onto a country road.

In the last few miles I saw baby donkeys and remembered that I’d seen llamas and a donkey earlier in the day. Again, the sky was beautiful but one only for my memory. We finished in MaximoOH and drove 4 miles north to a Super 8 in Alliance. We got a veggie pizza from Hungry Howie’s and I picked up beer from Ohio and Pennsylvania. The grocery store had an enormous selection of craft beer but I couldn’t find any from Indiana. I decided to be creative with the vanilla ice cream I’d bought and my dad and I made beer floats with the Java Head stout brewed in Pennsylvania. They weren’t very good but it was worth a try. Together, the three of us finished an entire large pizza and entire half gallon of ice cream. That’s what you get when you ride 80 miles in a day.

I went to sleep blogging and watching the Olympics. Track was on most of the night so we got to watch the US women win the 4x100 and compete in the 5,000 meter. My mom didn’t think it looked like the 5,000 meter participants were running very fast so I told her that at a pace under 5:00 per mile, they were running faster than we biked the last 30 miles of our day. That really put things into perspective. I hope they each went home and ate an entire pizza and half gallon of ice cream themselves.

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