Monday, June 25, 2007

Oberlin, Ohio

Yes, we are back on the road now, and are doing fine. This is the first day since leaving Cincinnati that we have had effective internet access. We are in Oberlin, Ohio, and have just completed 4 very good days since resuming our trip. We are 1505 miles into the UGRR route now, and have logged about 1640 miles of actual riding on the trip. We've gone through some startup pains again in our first couple of days, with some sore muscles, seats, and knees, but now we are back in the groove, and feeling strong.

One interesting point we just noted this evening.... in addition to having hit the 1500 mile point today, we also see that Oberlin is just about 10 or 15 miles from the shore of Lake Erie. Therefore, if our objective had been simply to ride across the country, south to north, we would be 10-15 miles from completing that now!

Here are a few snippets of interest to catch up on the last 4 days.

Friday, June 22: We left our house at about 6:30 am, with the objective to get through all the roads and onto the bike trail before the morning rush hour started. It was very strange to lock the door to our house, climb back on our bikes, and ride away!

Friday proved interesting because we encountered more rain on this day than we did during the entire month traveling from Mobile to Cincinnati. We were 7 miles from home, just onto the bike trail, when the skies turned dark and ugly, lightning and thunder and winds started, and it was obvious we were in for a storm. At that point we were just passing a small park, and so we found a cinderblock restroom building, and took shelter there. We moved the bikes into the bathrooms, pulled out our rain jackets, and sat under the overhang and watch as the storm hit in all its fury. After about an hour, the worst of the storm had passed, but we were left with a steady rain, so we donned our full rain suits (jackets and pants) and started riding. The rain lasted for about 4 hours, and we were able to continue through it without much problem. It was pretty chilly, but as long as we kept moving, we were able to stay warm enough. We made it all the way up the bike trail to Xenia, OH, where we stayed the night. Total distance for the day was about 65 miles.

The other point to make about this day is that the bike trail north of Cincinnati is familiar territory for us, so this was traveling in a well-known area for us. It was a bit weird, we felt sort of like locals, and sort of like transitory travelers.

Saturday, June 23: Because we were still on bike trails and things were pretty flat, we decided to make this a long day. We traveled 81 miles, and ended in Delaware, OH for the night. On the way, we came across a local bike club conducting a bike ride event. We got to talking with some of the organizers, and they became kind of excited when they heard we were doing the UGRR trip. One of them had been tapped as a local expert rider by Adventure Cycling and had provided consulting when they were constructing the route, and then again helped conduct the Inaugural riders through the area when they came through. He actually gave us a few alternate route suggestions which we took.... not sure it was any shorter, but it was on some really nice, quiet, picturesque back roads. Lots of fun.

On this day, we also encountered two sets of cyclists on the bike paths who rode with us and talked with us at length about the trip. One was a single guy who wants to do long distance touring at some point. The other was a couple on a tandem bike who were on vacation and biking the paths of Ohio. Interesting conversations!

Once we arrived in Delaware, we called our son, Dave. We were about 30 miles north of where he lives in Columbus, so he drove up to see us and have dinner with us.

Sunday, June 24: When we left Delaware, it was again quite cold with some light rain. It never really rained much this day, but it kept starting and stopping, and we were never really sure what to expect. We put on and took off our rain jackets several times..... it was as if the rain czar was playing games with us!

We had reserved a room for this evening at Malabar Farm, which was originally (in the 1940s and 1950s) a very environmentally innovative, sustainable farm, and which is today a state park. VERY interesting place. To get there, though, we had to negotiate some serious hills.... the first we had encountered since the end of our Mobile to Cincinnati leg a couple of weeks ago. We've been spoiled by bike paths and flat land! But it came back to us, and we made it up and over ok. Total mileage for the day was 56 miles.

We spent the night at the farm in a hostel that is operated there. The person who runs it is Barbara Dolezal, and she could not have been more hospitable! It was a great place to stay, with lots of history and items of interest all around, and we'd like to come back some time and spend more time.

Monday June 25 (today): Left the Farm and immediately had a series of serious hills to deal with. If we were not sure we were back in the groove before, we know it now! Once we passed those large hills, we spent the rest of the day going through rolling hillsides, and traveling through Amish country. We saw many signs of the Amish lifestyle in the areas we rode through: horse & buggies, Amish men in their traditional dress out working in their fields, children playing in their front yards, laundry hanging out on lines to dry. Vegetable stands with organic produce and brown eggs for sale, and Amish-made furniture for sale. While stopped on the side of the road for a lunch break, we met a young Amish man who was walking by, and had a nice conversation with him.

So that brings us up to date. We are in Oberlin tonight, having done about 58 miles today. We are staying in a hotel across the street from Oberlin College. There are a number of UGRR related sites and points of interest here in this town that we have started reading about. But at this point, the major story is that we have been able to put some 260 miles behind us over the last four days, and feel like we are hitting our stride again, moving along in this second phase of our trip.

More to follow as we have other opportunities to update.


Nancy said...

Sounds like a great start to the second 1/2 of your journey. Keep up the good pedaling and enjoy the views!
Thinking of ya'll.

Nancy said...

Oh...and BE SAFE!!

Mike said...

Thanks, Nancy! And yes, safety is our Priority #1.
--Mike & Joan