Another day done and dusted, and another almost one hundred mile ride in the books. According to my Garmin today’s ride ended up being 98.59 miles with 4,022 feet of climbing! Who said Ohio was flat? I was asked more than once tonight ‘did I not think of riding the extra 1.41 miles to make it into another official century ride’. The simple answer is that the thought crossed my mind for about 15 seconds when I reached the door of the hotel and as quick as it came, it went! Who cares if it was an official century or not. It was a long way and I made it.
Knowing that yesterday’s ride and that we arguably had a much tougher ride today I set off onto the Ohio roads. Today’s route took us along mainly quiet country roads, which were nice to pedal along. The roads twisted and turned, rolling through woods and plenty of fields, and given we had a bit of a tailwind, it felt like an easy ride. Along the way, I saw plenty of old farm machinery. cars and tractors that had been left rusting in place. I saw a few houses where people had placed old horse drawn grass cutters (I think) by their post boxes. I even saw a combine harvester that had been left in a field. It was like an art installation and one that had transformed into something quite interesting and beautiful as nature had encroached upon it over the years.
Later in the ride, we experienced a road closure for the second day in succession. As I approached I found Terry and Mike standing by the sign. I went to check it out and see if it was passable, as I didn’t fancy a long detour. As I approached the ‘Bridge Out’ sign I saw a man on a digger moving a large bucket across the bridge obviously getting ready to start work. On the bridge you could see a large hole on the right which obviously made it not passable for cars but OK for a bike? I smiled at the guy in the digger and wheeled Irma past the sign and onto the bridge. He waved me through, but I stopped to chat with him. The usual conversation ensued, “where are you heading, no, yes, wow, etc.’ After making it over the bridge I texted the rest of the team to let them know it was passable, and sailed off again happy I avoided another detour!
The large trees and rivers broke up the fields of wheat and corn, views which helped me stop getting bored of looking continuously at the grey tarmac spotting for holes, cracks and debris in my path. Today I must admit that I did think a lot about my Grandfather and my Uncle Jim, who are both not with us anymore. They both worked with wood for their entire lives, and I know they would have loved seeing this part of the US, with its woodlands and hills. I passed the odd sawmill with its smell of fresh sawdust, and it brought back such strong memories of my childhood. My Grandfather loved wood, and not just because it was his business. I remember that after he lost his sight he would hold an apple carved from an exotic Australian wood for hours on end. He would turn it around and around in his hands, feeling every bit of it in his fingers. He knew so much about wood, and would often point out a tree and then tell me how many yards of planking or pan handles he thought he could get out of that particular tree. As my mind wandered back to my younger years I found myself cycling alongside a river through a valley for a few miles, which was just about perfect.
After our second SAG we knew there was some serious climbing ahead. According to my Garmin, a number of hills had gradients according of 16% max and plenty of 10%-12% stretches. My ‘granny gear’ got a workout. While it was pretty slow going in parts, I made it up all the hills without stopping. After one climb I entered a village called ‘Funk’ which presented me with another photo op! I can honestly say while I cycled through Funk, I was definitely not in a funk today!
By now the temperature was pretty high. Like yesterday I changed my shirt at the 74 mile SAG so did feel fresher even if that was just in my head. Still more climbs until we had only a few miles to go. We descended into Wooster which looked quite a nice town. There seemed to be lots of activity in the central area and the shops were at least open and appeared to be surviving, unlike many of towns we have travelled through on this trip so far.
I got an update about ‘Mike Two’ from a friend. I hope he knows we are all pulling for him to recover from his injuries. Even though we all only knew one another for a few weeks he was and is still one of the team. We are thinking of you Mike and sending all of our best wishes for a speedy recovery.