Thursday, July 16, 2009
Day 40 - Richmond, IN to Marysville, OH
"Well, I went back to Ohio, but my family was gone. I stood on the back porch, there was nobody home. I was stunned and amazed, my childhood memories slowly swirled past like the wind through the trees. A, O, Oh way to go Ohio." —My City Was Gone by the Pretenders
Yeah, that's the song that was stuck in my head this morning as we left Richmond, IN and crossed into Ohio. I was born and raised in Avon Lake, OH on the coast of Lake Erie. In 1987, the summer before I turned 18, our family moved to Seattle, WA to be closer to extended family. I returned to visit friends the following year in 1988 and I haven't been back since... until today. As we stopped next to the Welcome to Ohio sign for photos, I realized it took me 21 years to get back here. At least one friend suggests the pull of gravity within Ohio is too great and I might not be able to leave. I will assure her that I will!
Our Ohio crossing was within the first three miles of our ride today. The morning was beautiful, but muggy. Ohio humidity, I remember it well! The low-lying early morning fog created a surreal environment to ride in. The sun shone through the dense trees casting warm sunbeams of light onto our roadway.
I rode most of the day with Chris from Columbus, Chuck from Miami, and Jim from California who left us in Pueblo and rejoined us in Indianapolis. He had to drop out due to a problem with his pacemaker not allowing his heart rate to escalate appropriately. This was his second day of riding with us and he was in top form. Chris had said at breakfast that he planned to "take it easy" today. Jim sure didn't let that happen! Over the first 30 miles, we were seeing speeds of 25-27 mph. I was barely hanging on when Chuck was leading our paceline. Eventually, everyone wised up and we slowed it down to a more respectable 20 mph!
We reached our first SAG stop before the van did. Gerard missed a turn that we had also missed. A street sign was obscured by tree branches. We doubled back to check it and made the turn. Gerard never did. By the time the van got to the SAG stop, at least a dozen riders were already there. We killed time by walking the short quarter mile to Greenville Falls near Covington, OH. At the Falls overlook was a middle-aged Mennonite woman who greeted us. We chatted briefly and shared about our ride. She mentioned we'd probably see some horse and buggies ahead but they belonged to the "more conservative" people. I said I had seen some Amish-looking people driving some tractors a few miles back and figured out they were likely Mennonite since they were using gas-powered vehicles. She wished us well and we walked back to the SAG stop for refueling.
Our route on Ohio county roads was really enjoyable. We passed farms and corn or soybean fields, past rural homesteads and small towns. Occasionally, we had some road construction, but it was pretty easy to get by. One section had "Road Closed" signs in place, but we rode through, past the construction workers and asphalt trucks, over a section of gravel, and back on course. No one yelled at us, but they were probably surprised to see us riding through their work zone. Hey, it beats the six-mile detour!
At St. Paris, OH, we stopped in Braden's Cafe for lunch. It was the recommended lunch stop for the day. The best part, besides the awesome sandwiches and delicious fruit smoothies, was the TV had the Tour de France on Versus playing. We saw the last 5 km of today's stage. Most of us joked about seeing ourselves on TV... "Hey, that's us!" Not even close.
After lunch, our second SAG stop was at a church and next to another cemetery. (That makes three SAG stops at cemeteries.) We stopped long enough to refill our water bottles then pressed on. Our last 30 miles were through some rolling hills, past more homes, some with small man-made lakes in the backyard—two young women in bikinis waved at us when we rode by. All heads turned.
We reached Marysville, OH and our route took us right through town. It looked like an active, historic downtown replete with brick buildings, storefronts, and an enormous city hall that reminded me of the clock tower in "Back to the Future". At our hotel, a 48-year old father and his 18-year old son were talking with many of our riders about the Cross Country Challenge. They plan to ride this route next summer and were open to all kinds of advice. I would love to do a cross-country ride like this with my kids someday. I've told them, "When I turn 50, you'll be 21 and 23 and we'll ride the Across America North Tour, okay?!" Neither of my kids are chomping at the bit just yet. No worries. I've got ten years to sell them on the idea... and work on my wife, too!
Tomorrow's ride will be another long one—104 miles—to Wooster, OH. I'm very excited because I will get a home-cooked meal with my high school friend Amy (Dyke) Benson and meet her husband and kids! For any other Ohio friends in the area, get in touch with me! I'll be spending the day in Avon Lake on Monday, July 20 and would love to see you!
For more photos from today's ride, visit http://gallery.me.com/eternaldesign2#100419
For more about the Ride for Impact, visit http://www.rideforimpact.org
Cumulative Miles: 3042
Cumulative Flats: 5
Elev Gain: 2,163 ft.
Max Elev: 1,437 ft.
Avg Climb: 1%
Max Climb: 7%