Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania… fast

July 21, 2008

It’s happening fast now, states clicking-off like fireworks.

Indiana; Sweet rememberances of the 27 years we spent there, nothing changed, yet nothing is the same. Our entire family was able to be together for 24 hours in West Lafayette. Nostalgic, defining and strange to¬†experience the state-of-the-family now and simultaneously my mind could see them¬†in their¬†youth. How I love them all. How proud I am of them all. As Jean wrote, we lost the “3” as in Three Generations. It was hard to see Ian get sick in Illinois and then decide¬†it best to return¬†home. We miss him. However, try to imagine what I felt like having both my sons riding with me for two fabulous days! One of my friends from Indiana, Zach (an excellent rider), joined in for a day and the four of us, raced, sprinted, hammered¬†into Ohio. Competitive Spirit¬†is alive and well between the boys and had my brother Rob been there, well….¬†

Ohio; I think I know now why many cross-country riders take the northern part of Ohio. It’s flatter. Half way across this amazingly terrain-diverse state our central route got very “hilly”. “Hilly” (as in Ohio hills) is defined as abrupt grades of 10% or more but not lasting more than 500 yards followed by an immediate similar decent and followed by another climb and descent etc. etc.¬†This was eastern¬†Ohio and carried to ridiculous extremes in Pennsylvania (later). I can remember¬†Peter and I noticed¬†“hills” near Mt. Vernon, which¬†was not on the original route but construction, traffic and bad shoulders pushed us to look for alternate. This is not uncommon in the east. Here, I will reassert the fact that secondary roads do not share the same logistical parameters to get you from one point to another as do the main roads. Among other things, secondary roads go in straight lines (whenever possible) and do not “give a hang” about hills. An example if this happened east of Mt. Vernon. While coming down a hill I looked up to see the next challenge. Honest, this sucker was so steep it looked like a wall. A blacktop wall. I said in an earlier post that my Garmin GPS bike computer was toast and in for repairs (it’s back now). This device would have told me exactly what the % grade was (not that you care.. but this is my story). Anyway, I’ve climbed 16-18% in Door County and I will swear this was 20-22%!! Short, yes maybe 150 yds and when at the top??? Turn sharp right and PLUNGE 150 yds at 40 mph and then.. yep!

Pennsylvania; We have heard about the mountains and secondary roads¬†of this state. By this point of the ride¬†Peter and I are also; in shape, reasonably fearless, confident of handling a bicycle in most situations and unintimidated by mere danger. There is also a new mental framework: purposeful, hard-core, dig-in, get nasty and get-it-done. Jean, however,¬†does not quite see¬†all things like¬†this. So, we are on Route 40 (Pen DOT Bicycle Route S¬†) towards Washington PA. Welcome to the East; as in¬†old, populated, poor roads, bad shoulders, drivers with bad attitudes (as in “get off the road, A..H…!”). Things were getting ugly; that is until yesterday. The Great Allegehny Passage Rail Trail has been JUST the right thing at the right time. A real breath of fresh-air has put this¬†trio of¬†voyagers¬†in a renewed sense of joy and spirit of discovery. First, Jean no longer CAN follow us and must meet us at certain junctures. This is good for her as she does not have to worry about us being flattened on the next corner AND she can go and do whatever she wants until lunch and after that, dinner. Peter and I are riding 1-2% grades with no traffic, nice surface, park-tourist environment, shade, beautiful streams, country etc. etc. What’s not to like? NOTHING. We are loving it all the way to Washington D.C. So that’s a change of route from the stated plan to go north of D.C. and come down to the Atlantic through Delaware. We are working on a new route to be announced later. So that’s it for tonite from Cumberland MD. It’s been a blast!

  1. zach Said,

    wow you guys clipped off a helluva week there…last week at this time you all were waking groggy in gas city indiana…now you’re in maryland?!…you guys must have looked at those hills w/ vengence in mind…hahahaha…a couple of animals you 2 have become on this trip…attacking hills like a mountain lion…10%, 16%, 22%?!…that’s some chain-chuckin’ boys…but you know that…keep goin…you’re almost there…good luck w/ those last couple days into washington and the dip in the atlantic…i’ll see you in the Door!

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