Niles, OH to Erie, PA.
Well after our late night out (dinner at 7:30 pm) I slept like a log. The log awoke to a spectacular view of Lake Erie at 5:30 am (routines are hard to break). Finally I had to get up and find some coffee. I really wanted to post each and every day on the trip so was a little disappointed I couldn’t find the energy to write last night, so this will be yesterday’s post. I will post today’s post tonight if any of that makes any sort of sense at all.
Rain. Yes finally our luck ran out and we had rain. I actually messed up with my gear, which made the day maybe harder than it should have been. Having looked at the forecast I had to decide if a 40% chance of rain warranted me wearing my waterproof bib/tights, shoe covers and rain shirt and risk getting very hot and sweaty if the sun came out or not. Having had a few days of getting hot and having to ride in wet shirts, I thought no I would just take my rain jacket in my pocket. Big mistake. It rained properly for a good part of the first 60 miles. Once I got wet it was just a case of trying to ignore the wet fabric, puddles and road spray and keep moving forwards.
Before we got the real rain we came across another road closure. At the first sign and as usual some of the riders stopped to talk about the road closure. Also as usual they laughed when I carried on by them to go check it out for myself. When I got to the actual road work I found no one working, and some holes along the edge of the road. It was no problem taking our bikes through.
Further along the road we came across what looked like a huge wooden flag. It turned out to be the back of a ‘Drive In’ movie screen now not in use, but still in place. I went to take a look at the other side, and found that the old drive-in had become a flea market. I like that they left the screen in place, as a monument to a different era.
Straight after the first SAG we got really, really wet and still had to ride 30 miles or so along a fairly flat miserable road. To be honest I couldn’t tell you what it was like as I spent most of the time watching for pot holes, puddles and a way forward through the water. Just before the 2nd SAG the rain stopped and up came Barry and Ken. I tagged onto the back of these two and let them carry me to the next stop. This SAG stop was at a ‘Root Beer’ stand which I think is famous around these parts. Like the drive-in movie screen, it was really like a blast from the past but this one had survived and was thriving. Not being a fan of root beer but being cold, wet and hungry, I went for for the healthy option of chilli cheese fries, coffee and a large vanilla milk shake. I know that this choice didn’t really contain all of the nutrients, minerals and fiber that I may have needed at this point but to be honest it tasted good, cheered me up and not a single guilty thought entered my mind.
As we stood around after filling up on comfort food and drinks I was beginning to feel the wet under my ‘rainproof’ jacket and the cold was setting in. Barry had asked Dana if Tom was about with the truck that contains our luggage in order to get a jacket and was told he would arrive shortly. I wasn’t sure whether to wait, getting colder and miserable as I did, or to get on my bike, suck it up and get moving to warm up. This time I made the right decision and went with the Colonel. I managed to get a new shirt, warm jacket and waterproof over jacket out of my bag and onto my body. Warm and dry, the world became a great place again.
The rain stopped and for once I was hoping the sun wouldn’t come out. Luckily it didn’t. Feeling pretty good physically with only a 30 mile flat ride ahead I didn’t push it, and enjoyed just rolling along at a steady 15 mph. Just after the SAG we passed into Pennsylvania, a state I know a little more about than most. Deirdre’s family mostly live in this state, all be it on the eastern side in Philadelphia so we spend a lot of time there during the year. After the first state sign a few miles further down the road was the Old State Line. Apparently the Erie Triangle was purchased by Pennsylvania in 1792 for $151,640.25 which seems like a good purchase for a port and some waterfront properties.
Just before we hit Erie I was caught by Kathy, Bruce and Mark so I tucked in behind them, and took a ride for a few miles. As we entered Erie they pulled up but I carried on as I was keen to get to the hotel. As I rode around a square I noticed an individual with an orange golf shirt standing on the corner. He seemed to be looking at me and I thought there was something familiar about him! As I looked more I realized that this was indeed someone I knew. Don had driven down from Toronto that morning and was standing on a corner in Erie, PA. I stopped and we just laughed knowing he had managed to arrange with Deirdre to meet me on route all in secret! Typical Don. It was a great surprise and made the day a great one.
After washing Irma and myself I met Don and we headed off to a local bar for a beer (or three) and catch up. We laughed as we usually do and swapped stories about the past few weeks. One of the barmaids asked about the ride and chatted to us about wanting to do something similar. If you are now reading this you should try and see through as many dreams, crazy ideas and bucket list items as you can while you can. None of us get a second chance in life. We went back to the hotel to pick up the ‘three amigos’ for dinner. The restaurant was about 15 minutes away and the table was booked for 7:30 which was positively late for us bikers. However, the ‘late’ dinner was well worth it for a really good meal, some fun conversation and a few hours with friends away from the roads and hotels we have been accustomed to for the past few weeks.
What at the start was a wet, miserable and cold day became a surprisingly great day which is sort of ‘Erie’!