Mama said there’d be days like this… One thing I can now say with great certitude is it doesn’t matter how flat a road is if you are biking into a headwind all day.
I had a great morning, 6am wake up, breakfast and great conversation with Leo, last minute packing. Leo is inspiring to me because he is honest about the nature of friendship. It is one thing to be a good friend. It is quite another to make a good touring partner. He experienced this firsthand on his trek across the US. He learned that you can spend a lot of energy trying to keep a group together, but at the end of the day, you have to ride your own ride. This nugget of wisdom was truly invaluable to me today. Also thanks to Leo, I’ve finally replaced the pair of rain pants I shredded on the Erie Canal trail. I’m really humbled by the generosity I’ve received on this trip. Thanks, Leo!
From Leo’s house, I had about 8 miles downhill back to my route. Leo had warned me about a bridge out, and that helped immensely, as I was able to follow his detour instructions that kept me on smaller roads rather than the official detour.
The first part of my day was ok, but windy. I did see some awesome wildlife on the boarder between Pennsylvania and Ohio:
I crossed into Ohio at Conneaut, where I stopped for two things: a root beer float (odd for me, particularly so early in the afternoon!) and to use the Wifi at the Conneaut Public Library. Only one of the two adventures was a success.
Why did I stop for the root beer float? Because it felt like a zillion degrees out, and I’ve been wearing long sleeved shirts to try and keep the sun off me. The float was delicious, even if half of it ended up on the tray. That’s what’s called overexuberance!
I reposted the day 17 post from the Conneaut library only to find that when I went to review it – no post. Boo. I was miffed, but what was I to do? I packed up and moved on.
Conneaut to Ashtabula was one of the most painful legs of the journey yet. I couldn’t for the life of me get above 9mph, even on the downhills, and at times I was stuck around 8mph. I knew that I had a loooong way to go to Grand River, but I was already exhausted. I pulled over to a little open-air picnic area overlooking the lake, ate a delicious plum I’d picked up at a farm stand, and stretched my shoulders. About 20 minutes later, just as I was packing up, up rolls the only other cycle tourist I saw all day. He was headed East, and we talked briefly. Just long enough for me to gather that he’d really been enjoying the strong tailwinds all day (thanks, bud) and that there was an awesome coffee shop in Ashtabula (pronounced Ash-Tabula, not Ash-Ta-Bu-La, like I’m apt to say). That provided the inspiration I needed to continue.
The coffee shop in Ashtabula is now old news, considering how highly I sang its praises yesterday. I really didn’t want to leave, but I kept trudging. I decided to break away from the ACA route to try to get out of the headwinds. I thought maybe they would be calmer inland. Hmm… not really. I plodded along 20 and then 84, passing some nice places where I thought to myself, goodness… I could camp here and no one would ever know. But that isn’t my style. I need to be somewhere established to sleep well, if only so I know nobody will come bother me at 2am.
Finally, just as all my mind games and chanting were failing me, I saw the Perry Fire Department. I’d entered Perry Township a while back, and I’d begun thinking about my friend Becca. I thought it would be really cool for me to take a picture of the town sign or something… Well Becs, I can do better. I had one of my best nights sleeps behind the fire station, and now I have some really great firefighter friends, too!
I saw the fire house and immediately thought, the worst they can say is no. I crossed the street with great alacrity, screeched up to the first fireman I could find, and asked him if there was absolutely any way they could allow me to camp behind their firehouse. I half expected him to say no, but instead I got a resounding, “Absolutely!”
Steve: my first fireman friend.
From there on out, my evening only got better. I met the other firemen: Don, Jake, and Jimmy, was invited to partake in leftover ziti from a graduation party, and got a great introduction to how fire calls work. I can’t express my gratitude fully enough to these men at Station #2. I was seriously overjoyed when Steve first told me I could camp, and my grin didn’t go away till I fell asleep and forgot to smile.
So Becs, when you read this… Perry, OH is an awesome place, and you HAVE to stop by the fire department to say hello!