Please forgive me for the delay in posting! I’m still on the map… 🙂
Day 20 was full of ups and downs while being 99% flat. I got off to a beautiful start, I woke up in a cozy bed at Marty and Beth’s house, had an amazing oat breakfast, and had a wonderful ride back to my route with Beth. The sun was shining, the road full of promise. The weather was as near perfect as a human could ask for – blue sky, tiny breeze, birds chirping. I passed through a town called Vermilion and thought, “Wow… if I had more time, I’d love to check out this place!” But I kept cycling. About 8 miles outside of Vermilion, nearing the town of Huron, OH my day became more complicated. My right derailleur (the “transmission” of a bicycle – comprised of the gears (sprockets) on which the chain runs, connected by a cable under tension to the shifters at the handlebars) stopped working. I could click and click and click, but the chain wouldn’t change gears. I pulled over to take a look and saw that there was tension on the cable near the rear derailleur, which put the problem somewhere between where the cable enters my bicycle (mine cable runs inside the bike, but it doesn’t have to. Some bikes have the cables running the length of the bike on the outside) and where they connect to the shifters themselves. I was on the side of the road maybe 10 minutes, my bicycle repair book out to the section on derailleurs, when a man came up to me from across the street. He ran a muscle-car-building-shop, as he put it. He offered his workspace if I wanted to get out of the sun, so I walked Guffy across the street to his car bay. The relief from the sun was nice.
After a few more minutes of poking around, we saw that surely enough, the cable had jumped out of the groove where it sits in the handlebar. With the use of some tiny pliers, we were able to pull the cable back into its proper place. When I took Guffy for a test ride though, once again the cable jumped out. I was hesitant to try any further repairs because it seemed like a more intricate problem than first imagined. I called my dear friend and bike maintenance expert Ben (from Porltand!) who advised me on how to continue. The gentleman offered me a ride back to Vermilion (see… I knew I’d spend more time in Vermilion!) to the bike shop there, but he said he wanted to try one more thing. He wanted to see if he could pinch the two sides of the groove together to close better around the head of the cable. I hesitated. I wanted to go to the shop. Object lesson: don’t let a muscle car mechanic, no matter how well intentioned, near Guffy. One second later, he’d snapped the piece inside of the shifter. He didn’t notice, but I let out an audible, “OH MY GOSH….” I wasn’t upset; he was really trying to be helpful, but I knew then that what might have been a cable problem had just become something more involved. He was kind enough to drive me to the bike shop, Bicycle Bills.
Despite the sign saying Open, it was actually closed on Wednesdays. Just my luck! I thanked the gentleman who’d given me the ride and told him I’d figure out my next steps. I sat there on the steps for a few minutes before some girls set up a lemonade stand a few feet away. I bought a cup (best $0.50 investment in a while!) and decided to try and make it to the next town on my route with a bike shop. I learned another lesson – I called them first to make sure they were open. They were, and I had enough daylight to make it to their place before closing.
I limped along, using only my front derailleur to get to Fremont, OH. The road was beautiful, though again I had some strong headwinds to contend with. The scenery changed from the shore of Lake Erie to miles and miles of corn and soybeans. Really, that’s it.
There was some nice wildlife along the route as well. I’ve seen lots of herons.
I also passed a huge plastic recycling depot. Really cool to see the huge bales of mushed bottles all stacked up. So much happier than seeing them in the garbage, which is not an uncommon sight either.
Finally I made it into Fremont and to Fremont Cycle & Fitness. The people working there were very kind, offered me chocolate milk while they finished up the work they were doing prior to attending to Guffy. At this point I still thought there’d be a component I could buy that could replace the broken piece. Quickly I learned that these shifters are sold as units and no one has the little bitty pieces needed to fix them. So, Guffy underwent his first surgery of the trip, to the tune of $150 in parts and $30 in labor. I wasn’t happy, but I had to get it fixed; there’s no way I can bike to Seattle with the back derailleur not working. Here you can see the broken bit at the bottom right of the U-shaped piece. What poo.
Since the brake and the shifter cable are housed together, along with the new shifter I got a new brake cable. What a day.
By the end of the ordeal, I’d been in Fremont for about 2 hours. I wanted to find camping nearby, and was given a map of a local bike route that would put me North of my route, but had nice camping. I decided just to keep on my route and move on to Gibsonburg, where I knew there was camping. It was another 13 miles, but with Guffy back on his best behavior, it went quickly.
I arrived at the White Star Park and found there was a $15 camping fee. I decided to look at the spots before paying, and while I was walking around, I met a Grandfather named Bob who was in town from Florida with his RV visiting his grandkids. He offered for me to camp on his plot so as to avoid the fee. I very gratefully accepted, and we talked with his son for a while before I made my dinner and tucked in around 9.
It was a long day of unexpected adventure, but I’m glad I made it to my original destination. Thank you once again to Marty and Beth for your amazing hospitality! The sandwich and snacks kept me fueled even when my energy sagged due to Guffy’s little hiccup. You are both wonderful wonderful people!