Friday, July 17, 2009
Day 41 - Marysville, OH to Wooster, OH
"On behalf of Gerard Airlines, we'd like to thank you for flying with us. Today's flight with non-stop service to Wooster, OH will be piloted by Gerard Boisse and we'll be at a cruising speed of 27 mph."
That was the thought this morning when I decided to chase Gerard, our ride leader, who did not ride yesterday and had fresh legs today. The first 25 miles this morning flew by as Gerard led me and Judy along the Ohio roads out of Marysville. We raced by farms, small towns, homesteads, rivers, and of course all the riders who left ahead of us!
At mile 20, a group of Chris' Columbus friends joined him to ride 30 or so miles. They had fresh legs, too, and were soon on our tail. A few miles later, we met up with Brad Butler who rode with hid dad, Jay, during the San Francisco to Salt Lake City leg. It was great to see him again and we caught up on how the ride had been since Day 11 when he departed. He commented on how my previously pasty white legs were now brown. (Thanks, Brad, for checking out my legs...) Brad lives about 15 miles from where we were riding. Soon we were on one of his usual routes and I was enjoying the scenery. The weather was unusually cool with heavy cloud cover and low humidity. It made the morning's ride more enjoyable.
We had a couple of "Road Closed" signs on our route. What do you do when you see a "Road Closed" sign? You ride right through it. The closures were fairly insignificant and we easily navigated the obstacles. First was a road with a third of the pavement missing. The second was a road crew installing a drainage pipe. No problem. We just consider it our "cyclocross moment."
By mid-morning, we had reached the SAG stop at mile 33. Guess where it was... another church and cemetery. That makes five. I had to laugh when I noticed Dan had rested his bike against a headstone. I hope the fella resting there was a cyclist back in his day. I'm sure he didn't mind. Brad enjoyed catching up with the other cyclists and we met Chris' friends. Soon, it was back to the road with Gerard, Judy, Jim, Brad, and myself.
After a few more miles of countryside riding, Brad had to turn back towards home. We said farewell, promised to stay in touch, and talked about taking on a portion of another America By Bicycle ride in the future... maybe Ride the West next summer, perhaps! But only a week's length next time! Gerard, Judy, Jim and I pressed on. We reached Fredericktown, OH and decided to stop for an early lunch.
We chose the Taste of Country Cafe and Store. While a few of the guys ordered sandwiches, I opted for a piece of pecan pie and an iced mocha. When the 30-something woman came over to the espresso machine to serve me, she admitted to being new to the "whole coffee thing." I said, "Well, I'm from Seattle, so I'm happy to walk you through it!" then added quickly, "But, I don't want to be pedantic and talk down to you either!" She was grateful for the help and I gave her step by step instructions for making a first-class iced mocha with Hazelnut. After I took a sip I said, "That's the best iced mocha... I've had today!" She smiled at first then said something to the effect of "what a backhanded compliment." It was all in fun and I told her it was delicious.
Upon leaving, we passed an Amish family in a horse and buggy. Jim actually got them to agree to a photo, which I thought was very uncustomary. We rolled on and began some of the hillier portions of our route. We passed through verdant woodlands and rolling pastures. I passed through a section of Ohio where the Mohican Outdoor Eduction Center is located. I went there in fifth grade. Memories were rushing by as fast as the scenery. Now we were climbing steeper hills and enjoying fast descents. The views atop the eastern Ohio hills were fantastic: farms and pastures, forests and fields, ribbons of asphalt leading to the next turn.
At our second SAG stop (that again stands for "support and gear"), we enjoyed the sunshine and shade. It was looking like a beautiful afternoon by now. As we left with Alex and Chris joining us, we had no idea a thunderstorm was brewing just out of view. Not more than 15 miles after the SAG stop, we spotted the darkening clouds in the northwest sky. Our speed increased as we tried to outrun the impending storm. Thunder clapped in the distance. Lightning streaked across the horizon. We picked up the pace even more. Rain began to lightly fall and the smell of fresh showers upon hot pavement reminded me of Ohio summer thunderstorms from my childhood. I knew at any moment the skies would unleash a torrent of water. I was keeping one eye on the road and the other on potential places to run for cover.
As soon as the heavens opened up, I spotted Chris in the open garage of a nearby house. I dashed in and was soon joined by Alex, Gerard and Judy in the garage. We waited out the storm by taking photos, swapping stories, and checking the radar on our iPhones. After 40 minutes, the storm had passed and we made the last ten miles into Wooster. We stopped in town for milkshakes to celebrate our victory.
After arriving at the hotel and cleaning up, I was met by my high school friend Amy (Dyke) Benson. She picked me up and drove me the half hour to her home in Wadsworth, OH where I was treated to a delicious chicken parmesan dinner with her husband Michael, and their beautiful kids, Christopher (13), Max (11), and Aria (6). Amy and I reminisced and caught up. Michael gave me a tour of their remodeled home. And the kids entertained us with their crazy antics and made me miss my son and daughter even more! I was thoroughly blessed to spend a quiet evening with a home-cooked meal and enjoying the comfortable surroundings of home instead of a restaurant meal and hotel lobby. Thanks Amy and Michael for the gift of dinner and conversation! I'm ready for the day ahead into Youngstown!
Tomorrow, we'll ride 92 miles (ooh, a short ride!) to Youngstown, OH. Word among the ranks is that this won't be the most enjoyable route, but I'll find the beauty in it. At dinner, my friends Krista (Thornton) and TJ Schmitz and their kids will meet me for dinner. I'm really digging all this reminiscing and catching up with old friends! And it only took cycling 3000 miles to get here!
For all the photos from today's beautiful Ohio ride, visit http://gallery.me.com/eternaldesign2#100427
Cumulative Miles: 3,147
Cumulative Flats: 5
Elev Gain: 3,953 ft.
Max Elev: 1,648 ft.
Avg Climb: 2%
Max Climb: 13%