Bicycling 4,174 Miles Across the United States

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August 7th – Lewiston to Brockport, NY and August 8th – Rest Day in Brockport

MIle 47: View of the Erie Canal Trail that we biked for abut 45 miles today. While not paved, it was very hard packed dirt with fine gravel – not difficult for a road bike to travel. We will bike a total of 95 miles on the Erie Canalway Trail.

August 7th Statistics:  Lewiston to Brockport, NY

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 64.4 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 15.6 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 4.1 hours
  • Today Ascent – 455 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 45
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,478.4 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.3 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 86,310 feet

Today was another perfect day for biking.  After 20 miles of biking on country roads, we arrived in Lockport, NY to begin our 95 mile ride over two days on the Erie Canalway Trail.  While the Erie Canalway Trail was not paved, it was hard packed dirt with fine gravel in most places and not difficult for road bike travel.  It was very lightly travels by casual bikers, runners, and hikers.  Except for a 10 miles stretch where the canal drained (see photo below of explanation), it was a very beautiful ride.

Our destination of Brockport, NY is a quaint college town (SUNY-Brockport).  Dale was a professor at SUNY-Brockport prior to starting Classic Adventures.  After 2,000 miles on my tires, I decided to replace them at the Brockport bike shop even though the tires seemed to still have some life in them.  I have ridden nearly 3,500 miles without a flat tire and hope to maintain that record until I reach the Atlantic Ocean.  Besides bike servicing, I used our rest day in Brockport to do laundry and catch up on my blog.

Dale and Diane hosted a reception at their beautiful home on August 8th for the cyclists continuing to Freeport, ME – Doug, Jim, Robert, and me as well as 7 new cyclists, Bill from Southington, CT, Susie and Dave from Grand Rapids, MI, Steve and Sharon from Los Gatos, CA, Mollie from Coral Gables, FL, and Greg, a fellow Delaware Valley resident from Valley Forge, PA.  Three more cyclist are to join us over the next several days.  Unfortunately, one person had to cancel at the last moment.  The evening was very enjoyable and made a family event with the addition of two of Dale’s and Diane’s son’s (Nate and Benton), their wives and children (including a 10 year old boy who is an accomplished pianist and played for us).  Their son Nate is featured in my early posts as he biked with us from Anacortes, WA to Minot, ND.  Their son Benton has been the owner and president of Classic Adventures for the last 10 years.  Dinner at the Hamlin Station Bar & Grill completed the perfect start for the final leg of the tour for the new group of cycle adventures.

Mile 12: View of the countryside I biked through this morning near Pekin, NY.

Mile 20: View of the locks at the beginning of the Erie Canalway Trail in Lockport, NY.

Mile 20: View of the water falls which are part of the locks in Lockport, NY – Doug, Dale, Jim, and Robert on the bridge.

Mile 22: Dale, Jim and Doug biking the Erie Canalway Trail shortly after leaving Lockport, NY.

Mile 29: An example of one of the dams on the Erie Canal (near Gasport, NY).

Mile 35: View of the countryside next to the Erie Canalway Trail. Interestingly, the crops we passed today were very diverse, e.g. grapes, corn, apples, and tomatoes (I could not identify the crop in this photo).

Mile 43: At one point the Erie Canal was completely dry and I didn’t understand why. It became apparent near Albion, NY (shown in photo) that a canal side wall had collapsed and a 10 miles section of the canal had been drained so repairs could be made. Immediately after Albion the Erie Canal was full of water.

Mile 54: View of the Erie Canalway Trail near Holley, NY.

Mile 60: Map of a portion of the Erie Canalway Trail (Lockport to Rochester, NY). We will bike a total of 95 miles on the Erie Canalway Trail.

August 6th: Angola to Lewiston, NY

Mile 58: Jim, Robert, and Doug at Niagara Falls, Canada.

August 6th Statistics:  Angola to Lewiston, NY

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 76.1 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 15.2 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.0 hours
  • Today Ascent – 1,348 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 44
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,414.0 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.6 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 85,855 feet

Today was the most perfect day for biking of the entire tour so far – sunshine, low-mid 70s, low humidity.  We could not have had a better day for seeing Niagara Falls.  The roads were good for biking (actually better than much of the bike paths on the route so we often biked the roads) and we had minimal riding through unsightly areas of Buffalo.  While riding into Canada on the Peace Bridge was easy and quick, the return to the US via the Queenston Bridge required us to wait in line (mostly in the sun and exhaust fumes) for about 45 minutes with hundreds of cars and trucks.

I almost forgot a milestone today – I biked the entire day with Doug, Jim, and Robert and even led the group for part of the ride.  This is quite a change from a month ago.  I can clearly tell that I am a stronger rider every day.

 

Our evening was spent in Lewiston, NY.  After dinner at Maci’s Italian Restaurant, I decided to walk the town and relish the beautiful evening weather – glad I did.  As I walked into this quaint town I heard music.  There was a concert in the town square with hundred of people in lawn chairs enjoying it as they sipped their wine.  Further along there was a restaurant with a solo artist playing guitar and singing smooth jazz to a small crowd.  As I reached the Niagara River waterfront in Lewiston it was buzzing with activity.  I again heard music (this time rock & roll) coming from one of the many restaurants there, the ice cream palor was packed, and the walking path full of couples.  A nice way to end the day.

Mile 13: This is a view of Buffalo from Old Lake Shore Drive near Hamburg, NY. While the straight line distance to Buffalo was about 15 miles, it took us 30 miles to bike to it.

Mile 38: Robert and Doug biking along Amvets Drive pathway in Buffalo (taken with my iPhone as I was riding on the road).

Mile 40:  View of Buffalo from the Peace Bridge to Canada.

Mile 41:  Another view of Buffalo from the Peace Bridge to Canada.

Mile 56:  Approaching Niagara Falls on the Niagara Recreational Trail.

Mile 57:  View of the city of Niagara Falls, Canada from the Niagara Recreational Trail.  You can see the rapids building just prior to Niagara Falls and the mist being generated by the Falls.

Mile 57:  Another view of the rapids just prior to Niagara Falls.  Amazingly, the steel boat stranded directly in the center of the photo has been there since 1918 when the sailors who were rescued grounded it.

Mile 58: View from the Canadian side of the American Falls (US) left and Horseshoe Falls (Canada) right making up two of the three falls of Niagara Falls.

Mile 58: View of Bridal Veil Falls and the American Falls, two of the three falls that make up Niagara Falls with the US lookout site in the center.

Mile 58: Photo documenting my visit to Niagara Falls.

Mile 58: Photo documentation of Doug at Niagara Falls, Canada.

Mile 58: View of Bridal Veil Falls, the smallest of the three falls that make up Niagara Falls.

Mile 59: Another view of Bridal Veil Falls. Note the US extended lookout platform on the left top part of the photo.

Mile 61: View of Whirlpool Gorge and the cable car that is suspended from six cables and traverses the width of the gorge at almost 1 kilometer (.6 miles) in length.

MIle 61: Another view of the Whirlpool Gorge and cable car.

Sunset view at the waterfront in Lewiston, NY.

August 5th: Erie, PA to Angola, NY

Mile 32:  The only field of sunflowers I have seen on my tour.  Unfortunately, the weather was heavily overcast which prevented the photo from being more brilliant in color.

August 5th Statistics:  Erie, PA to Angola, NY

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 74.4 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 17.3 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 4.3 hours
  • Today Ascent – 1,455 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 43
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,337.9 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.6 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 84,507 feet

Today had a 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms so we started biking early.  I left even earlier than the rest of group and didn’t see anyone except Doug until the end of the ride.  Good thing I did ride straight through – while I had a few sprinkles, I made it to the motel without any rain (same with Doug).  The other riders had to cope with some downpours before they arrived.  All of us were very lucky as shorty after the last person arrived, a very severe thunderstorm hit.  The rain was blowing sideways, the streets flooded, and, water started pouring from my bathroom ceiling.  I am clearly cursed when it comes to hotel rooms on this tour.  I quickly was relocated to very dry room and enjoyed a nap.

One comment about the scenery today – very beautiful ride with vistas of valleys to the south, Lake Erie and homes on the north, and grape vines on either side of the road.

Mile 15:  Shortly after leaving Erie, I biked on Route 5, paralleling the shoreline of Lake Erie.  For over 50 miles in both Pennsylvania and New York, I passed field after field of grapes on both sides of the road.  Not only were there numerous wineries, but I also passed several college research farms dedicated to grapes.  This is a photo of a grape field with a stately home on Lake Erie.

Mile 16: One of the wineries I passed in Pennsylvania.

Mile 24:  Arrival in New York State – the 12th state on my tour – 3 states to go.

Mile 35:  An example of the road conditions in New York, wide and smooth shoulders (but not as smooth as the road which I road unless traffic was coming) that were great for biking – moderate traffic.

Mile 44:  A view of the Lake Erie shoreline near Van Buren Point, NY.

Mile 65:  A unique store fixture at a gift shop near Silver Creek, NY.  It looked like it might be for sale if your interested.

Mile 70: This is June & Gary Feeney from Bay City, Michigan.  They are completing a loop around Lakes Erie and Ontario.  When we met on the road near Irving, NY they had biked 1,100 miles over the last 48 days.

Mile 71:  Another unique store fixture on an indian reservation.  I am at a loss to see the linkage between the gorilla and duty free tobacco, ice, and night crawlers.

August 4th: Mentor, OH to Erie, PA

Mile 52: Back home in Pennsylvania after biking 3,200+ miles (although I am 400 miles from home).

August 4th Statistics:   Mentor, OH to Erie, PA

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 79.3 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 15.9 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.0 hours
  • Today Ascent – 1,198 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 42
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,263.5 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.7 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 83,052 feet

What a difference a day makes.  Once we left the Cleveland area, the roads improved, the scenery improved, and the traffic improved. The only downgrade was the temperature (mid 90s by the end of the ride today).  It is hard to believe that I ended the day in my home state of Pennsylvania (400 miles from home).  I started biking early to avoid the afternoon heat and biked the entire 80 miles only stopping for water.  I didn’t see a person in my group until the Comfort Inn in Erie.  It worked out great as I passed a large Trek bike shop a mile before the Comfort Inn and was able to get my bike serviced (new chain and cassettes, and cleaned & oiled) on the spot.  I still reached the hotel by 2 pm just as Doug arrived by bike and Dale arrived in the SAG wagon.  Since our rooms were not ready, Doug and I researched the best ice cream in town and road our bikes to Sally’s on Presque Isle (see photo below).

Unfortunately, I realized after several hours (and trying to take a nap) that the room was not cooling down (it was up to 87 degrees based upon my bike computer) – the air conditioner was not working.  The hotel (which was very nice) was sold out and didn’t have another room available, so they replaced the entire air conditioning unit in my room.   When I got back from a great dinner at Sarafini’s Italian Restaurant down the road from the Comfort Inn, I found that the replacement air conditioner didn’t work either.  Happy ending – while the front desk was working on a solution, I got a call that the hotel had a cancelation and a new room with perfectly working air conditioning was available.  I slept very well.

Two couples who rode this cross-country tour last year with Diane and Dale  joined us for the ride today and shared great stories of their tour last year and other tours they have taken.  One couple, Ron & Judy, biked Vietnam with Dale and Diane several years ago and had biked with Classic Adventures to Greece.

A positive comment I failed to make yesterday was the beauty of the homes (modest home as well as the estates) we passed on Lake Erie.  This was particularly true in the suburbs on either side of Cleveland (even if the roads were great for biking).

Mile 8: A view of the Grand River near Painesville, OH at 7:30 am.

Mile 15: I saw hundreds of these mailbox protectors in Ohio. I don’t recall seeing any until I reached Ohio. They varied from very elaborate and designer protectors to unpainted plywood with no markings. After having to replace my own mailbox twice due to vandals, I will consider one for us if it happens again.

Mie 30: A bicycle on display in Geneva-on-the-Lake, OH. The bike is about 8 feet tall and covered in lights – I would have liked to see it lit at night.

Mile 53: Historical Marker – Pennsylvania

Mile 59: View on Route 5 in Pennsylvania today – Great roads and scenery (the black tar marks on the road were very smooth and the shoulders even better to ride than the road much of the day).

Mile 60: Historical Marker – Pennsylvania State Line.

Mile 64: Today’s ride was designated three different ways, 1) Lake Erie Circle Tour, 2) Seaway Trail, and 3) Bicycle PA Route Z.

Sally’s, Presque Isle: Doug and I arrived very early at the Comfort Inn (2 pm) and before the rooms were ready. After consulting the hotel staff on the best ice cream in town we biked a mile to Sally’s – A landmark establishment at the entrance to Presque Isle State Park. It was mobbed with people enjoying the ice cream (like the black raspberry I had).  This view only represents a small portion of the entire restaurant that was in two different buildings.

View of Presque Isle State Park Beach.

August 3rd: Milan to Mentor, OH

Mile 1: As I was leaving our lodging in Milan at 7 am, this was a view I enjoyed and decided to photograph.

August 3rd Statistics:   Milan to Mentor, OH:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 88.3 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 15.2 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.8 hours
  • Today Ascent – 886 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 41
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,184.2 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.7 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 81,854 feet

Without a doubt today was the most unpleasant day of biking of the entire tour so far (and I hope never repeated).  It wasn’t even the high temperatures and humidity that left me with such a opinion.  It was the route!  I find it hard to believe that the Adventure Cycling Association which selects and publishes the route believes this is the best route through the region.

The first 15 miles of biking was on country roads or next to vacation homes located on Lake Erie.  This was the highlight of the day.  The great roads and traffic I had experienced in Ohio up to this point disappeared.

About 40 miles from Cleveland the biking experience significantly deteriorated.  First, the road became 4 lane with primarily industrial and commercial establishments – road shoulders if they even existed were covered in debris, potholes, gravel, and deep cracks.  The traffic was heavy and constant with autos and trucks who had no interest in slowing down as we tried to navigate the road’s obstacle course.  As I approached residential areas west of Cleveland (Bay Village, Rocky River, and Lakewood), I was expecting road relief, but didn’t get it.  The road surface became even more cracked and jarring to bike, was uneven, and potholes were even more prevalent.  The roads and the shoulders (if they existed) were narrow as well.  Traffic was very heavy, but with more cars and less trucks, but no greater driver interest in slowing down as cars passed us closely due to on-coming traffic and the narrow roads.

Then the real fun started in Cleveland biking the “Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway” which included biking through downtown Cleveland.  Besides the continued bad road conditions, the route traveled through very run down neighborhoods (I passed two locations where police had individuals against a wall).   Unfortunately, my limited view of downtown Cleveland with one exception provided no motivation to ever go back.  The exception was the Rock “N” Roll Hall of Fame which was near the waterfront and the the Cleveland Browns Stadium.

The roads and bikeway leaving downtown Cleveland provided the worst riding conditions of the entire tour so far from nearly every perspective, road surfaces, traffic volume, rude drivers, construction, lack of shoulder, narrow roads which drivers didn’t feel hesitation in passing me without slowing down, and scenery.  I had to stop for water at a convenient store and for the first time on the tour felt I needed to lock my bike before I went it due to the bars on the windows/doors of the store and the cashier behind a bullet-proof window.  Glad the ride of over.

Mile 58: View of Downtown Cleveland and its lakefront beach park from Cliff Drive just west of Cleveland.

Mile 59: View west from Cleveland Lakefront State Park (Cliff Drive is located just to the left of the high rise condo’s in the upper right of the photo).

Mile 61: Historical Marker – Birthplace of Rock “N” Roll.

Mile 61: Rock “N” Roll Hall of Fame

Mile 62: For many miles I biked on the “Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway”. It is impossible to believe that the City of Cleveland designated this route as a “bikeway” – it was almost impossible to ride due to the road conditions, and for the most part when shared with traffic, the drivers with little regard for bikers. The only attractive element of the path was the sign.

Mile 64: Entrance to Burke Lakefront Airport Park.

August 2nd: Napoleon to Milan, OH

Mile 68: Today we rode 9 miles on the North Coast Inland Trail pictured here which runs from Fremont to Clyde, OH. While not very scenic, it was quiet, offered some shade, and was flat.

August 2nd Statistics – Napoleon to Milan, OH:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 94.6 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 16.7 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.7 hours
  • Today Ascent – 866 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 40
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,095.9 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.4 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 81,854 feet

There was not much of note today except that it was a long (95 miles) and hot (high 80s) ride.  Fortunately, the humidity stayed low (<30%), but you could hardly tell.  I didn’t take any meal breaks and made good time so arrived first at the hotel (1:45 pm), even before the SAG wagon.  I treated myself to a Southwest Salad at McDonald’s across the street from the hotel while I waited for the luggage to arrive and our rooms to be available.  Dinner was at Applebees, my 4th dinner at Applebees during the trip, which has turned out to be a reliable place to have a good, if not varied, dinner.

Mile 32: Another small windmill field near Tontogany, OH.

Mile 70: Another view of the North Coast Inland Trail between Fremont and Clyde, OH.

 

August 1st: Decatur, IN to Napoleon, OH

Mile 19: For 4 miles today I biked on Stateline Road which separates Indiana and Ohio (photo). As you may remember, I noted hundreds of windmills in Illinois. Interestingly, I didn’t see any windmills during my travels across Indiana (ending with the scene on the left side of the road above), but as you can see above on the right side of the road, windmills were erected over many square miles in Ohio at the Indiana state line. I wonder why?

August 1st Statistics – Decatur, IN to Napoleon, OH:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 76.0 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 15.3 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.0 hours
  • Today Ascent – 354 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 39
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,001.3 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.0 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 80,424 feet

While the scenery in Indiana as I left the state this morning was similar to what I have seen over the last week, the scenery in Ohio changed quickly when I entered the state, not for the better.  Population density was much greater than Indiana and Illinois based upon numerous and unattractive homes I biked past.  I found little interesting enough to photograph during my first 40 miles in Ohio.  The scenery did seem to become more attractive as I paralleled the Maumee River past Defiance, OH.  I can say that the roads in Ohio were great.

The excitement today was a incident that I would describe as the closest near miss bike accident I have ever experienced.  As I was biking into Defiance, OH, a woman in an SUV traveling in the same lane and direction as I was (no other traffic), turned right, at a green light directly in front me.  I don’t know if she didn’t see me, thought I was turning right, or thought she was farther ahead of me.  Regardless, I had to slam on both brakes (I was traveling about 15 mph) and began to slide left and right as I fought to keep the bike upright.  I started to fall to my left side, but was saved from falling by hitting my shoulder against the rear of her SUV.  By that time I had been able to get my shoes unhooked from the pedals and kept myself upright.  She kept going (I suspect hearing my commentary as she drove away).  Fortunately, no damage to me, and more importantly, to my bike – only a temporary rise in my blood pressure and heart rate.  I was so upset I forgot to stop at the Dairy Queen in Defiance as I had planned.  I’ll have to have a double desert at dinner tonight.

P.S.  Talking about desert, since the tour started I have lost 2″ in waist size (and probably 10 lbs) and need to buy some new pants and belts at LLBean in Freeport, ME.

Mile 11: As I was biking at 7:30 am, I took this photo of myself with my iPhone.

Mile 18: Since I didn’t get a photo of the welcome to Indiana sign when I arrived, I decided to get it as I left. This sign was on Highway 30 near Monroeville, IN.

Mile 18: Welcome to Ohio.

Mile 55: I did not Photoshop this fountain on River Drive (Maumee River) in Defiance, OH. The blue water is what was flowing.

Mile 62: A stately home on River Drive near Defiance, OH.

Mile 65: Little did I know that Florida was in Ohio.

July 31st: Wabash to Decatur, IN

Mile 15: View of the Salamonie River just downstream from the Dam. While it appeared low, upstream of the Dam looked 15 to 20 feet low.

July 31st Statistics – Wabash to Decatur, IN:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 66.6 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 17.3 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 3.9 hours
  • Today Ascent – 918 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 38
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 2,925.3 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.0 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 80,070 feet

The weather was terrible at 7 am when we met for breakfast, torrential downpour, lightning, and high winds.  You could see on weather radar that this system was quickly moving past Wabash.  Since we had a shorter distance today (63 miles), we decided to reconvene at 10 am.   Perfect timing – The sun was out and streets were already beginning to dry.  It turned out to be a great day to ride with the minor issue of high 80s temperatures.

The notable event of today was my missing two turns.  Fortunately, I only added about 4 miles to my distance since I was easily able to get back on track thanks to my Garmin 800.  The scenery was no different than over the last five days so I only took a couple of photos.  Our lodging in Decatur was over 13 miles off route – Indiana simply doesn’t have good lodging near the bike route.

While Decatur appeared to have every fast food chain represented on the streets I biked, Dale and Diane spent 2 hours trying to find a good place for dinner.  When we left for dinner and they said that they had identified a buffet restaurant, I was apprehensive – I had no reason to be.  Dinner at “Back 40 Junction” was great (with the exception that it was mobbed, justifiably).  None of the very large selection of buffet items (salads, breads, appetizers, fish, meat, sides, and deserts) tasted “institutional”.

Mile 32: View of Edward Roush Lake (part of the Wabash River), near Huntington, IN.

Mile 44: Doug and Robert taking a break in the shade for ice cream in Zanesville, IN.

July 29th and 30th: Monticello to Wabash, IN and Rest Day in Wabash

Prichard Family Get-Together in Wabash:  Left to right – Steve; Brother Tom and wife Judy; Jonny (in front), son of Wendy; Brother Paul; Brian (in back) friend of Wendy; Keith, son of Paul; and Wendy, daughter of Paul.

July 28th Statistics – Monticello to Wabash, IN:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 62.4 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 15.7 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 4.0 hours
  • Today Ascent – 1,068 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 37
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 2,858.7 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.3 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 79,152 feet

Today’s ride had its challenges and rewards for me.  About mile 35, I missed a turn and didn’t realize it.  After some miles, the road I was on suddenly turned into a very rough gravel road.  As Nancy knows, I always resist going backwards, so I continued on the gravel road thinking it was the right road and that I had just encountered a short gravel area – wrong.  After three miles of very difficult riding I intersected a paved road and turned in the direction of the planned route.  Somehow, I again missed the intersection with the planned route  (so much for being bright and having a GPS).  I continued south until I intersected Route 16 which I knew would take me back to the planned route.  However, Route 16 had a barrier saying “Closed”.  Now the reward – I ignored the sign and began riding on Route 16.  It turned out that Route 16 had just been repaved and the only remaining task was to paint the lines.  I had 13 miles of Route 16 to myself and made great time on a perfect road surface.  When I eventually arrived in Wabash, I found that my route for the day was 5 miles shorter than the route taken by everybody else (dumb luck).  Along the way today I biked through Sitka, Denver, Chili, Metea, and Twelve Mile, Indiana, cities I don’t remember from my Indiana growing up days.

Upon arriving in Wabash, the Charley Creek Inn (see photos) was everything Dale and Diane had described – clearly the best lodging of the entire tour so far, maybe the entire trip.  I have not been in Wabash for probably 50 years, so I didn’t remember or recognize it.  The town is trying to remake itself as are so many similar small midwestern towns (like Anderson) which have lost their way over the years.  While I was very impressed with the effort in Wabash (the Honeywell Center, Charley Creek Inn, Wabash River Walking Path, cleanliness, and museums (closed both days I was there), it was still hard to ignore the fact that few people were around.

However, the highlight of Wabash was a visit from family.  My brother Tom and his wife Judy drove several hours from Nashville, Indiana to visit.  My brother Paul flew up from Saint Petersburg, Florida and combined a visit with his children who live in central Indiana with a family reunion in Wabash.  Joining Paul in Wabash was his son Keith (who is a junior at Ball State University studying social work), his daughter Wendy (who graduated from Ball State in medical technology several years ago, has been extremely successful in her career, and and is starting her MBA at Ball State this fall), Wendy’s son Jonny and Wendy’s friend Brian.  We ended the day with an outstanding dinner at the Charley Creek Inn restaurant, Twenty, and desert at their ice cream/candy parlor.  It was great to see everyone and start the planning for a complete Prichard family reunion next year, all brothers and spouses, children and spouses, and grandchildren.  It just occurred to me that I need to preference the term spouses with the word current.

Tom and Judy brought a special item – boxes of family photos, photo albums, movies, and negatives they found at our father’s home when they were cleaning it out after he died.  The boxes included special items from our grandparent’s photo studio, i.e. antique glass and regular negatives (from the late 1800’s) and numerous photos of our ancestors (many not identified yet) and Anderson, Indiana from the late 1800s to the 1980s.  We decided to split the items up and assign each brother a task of converting different items to an electronic version that can be shared by all.   I look forward to seeing them all again soon when I return to Anderson for my 45th high school reunion at the end of September.

Mile 0:  Best Western Plus, lodging in Monticello, IN – Great facilities.

Mile 12:  Unexpected hill encountered outside Buffalo, IN.  Turns out it is a landfill with several new hills being built.  Very clean, well planted, and no smell.

Mile 20:  Two fellow cross-country travelers (east to west tour) we met on a quiet country road in Indiana.  Unfortunately, I can’t find the piece of paper I had with their names, but I can tell you that he is from Germany on a vacation biking across the United States.  She is from Boston and is relocating to Seattle to start graduate school.  They did not know each other until they met on the road.  Yesterday, we met another traveler riding, Dick, who appeared to be similar in age to our group.  Dick was riding from Bar Harbor, ME to his home in Des Moines, IA.  Last year he road from Seattle to his home, so this summer he was completing the other half of the tour.  Several years ago he completed a different transamerica ride from the southeast US to the northeast US.  I estimate that we have met several dozen bikers riding cross country since we began out tour.

Mile 24: At the intersection of County Road 900N (our route) and Indiana State Road 35, we unexpectedly crossed the “Panhandle Pathway”, a 21mile hiking/biking trail in central/north Indiana.

Mile 50: Interesting descriptive street sign in Chili, IN.

Charley Creek Inn: The Charley Creek Inn is without a doubt the best lodging of the entire trip so far. It is a completely restored hotel with an art galley, fine wine store, ice cream and candy parlor, and gourmet restaurant off the lobby.

Charley Creek Inn: Bathroom of my room – beautiful and high quality.

Wabash, Indiana – Mural

Wabash, Indiana – Paradise Spring Historical Park, Officer Cabin from the 1820s.

Brother Tom and spouse, Judy on the Wabash River Walking Path

Wabash, Indiana: Historical Marker – Modoc the Elephant.

Wabash, Indiana:  Historical Marker – First Electrically Lighted City in the World, 1880.

July 28th: Watseka, IL to Monticello, IN

 

Mile 25: First view of Indiana – glorious day.

July 28th Statistics – Watseka, IL to Monticello, IN:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 76.7 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 14.5 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.3 hours
  • Today Ascent – 576 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 36
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 2,796.3 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.3 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 78,084 feet

Rather than retracing our ride back to the main route (our hotel in Watseka was 6 miles off route), we individually choose country roads for the first 15 miles to Iroquois, IL to rejoin the main route.  It was a beautiful day for riding.  On the route I picked, I happened upon a ranch of Clydesdale horses.  Unfortunately, the lack of sunlight and distance of the dozen or so Clydesdales did not allow of a photo.

Leaving Illinois was a sorrow.   Our biking in Illinois was clearly the most in any state on rural and little traveled roads which provided a unique private experience.  Additionally, the roads overall were the best for biking of any state on our tour.  The miles and miles and miles of farms and ranches were particularly beautiful when the sun came out.

It was with nostalgia that I biked into Indiana, my home state for the first 23 years of my life.  Mile after mile of biking the country roads brought back memories of rural Madison County.  The small towns I passed through reminded me of places like Lapel, Elwood, and Middletown near my home in Anderson.  Biking through Buffalo, IN was surprising as I didn’t remember that Indiana had a city named Buffalo.  At the end of the day (with an 11 mile off route bike ride due to the lack of lodging on the main route) we reached the Best Western in Monticello (one of the nicest hotels on our tour so far).  I remember visiting Monticello as a child on vacations and to visit relatives (which relatives I don’t remember).  We passed many vacations homes on lakes and rivers in the area in Lake Freeman and the Tippecanoe River where my family used to vacation.

Mile 1: Last view of Illinois at the Morris Cemetery on the Indiana border. Only our map indicated that this was the state line between Illinois and Indiana (no welcoming or departing signs).

Mile 29: Our first SAG rest stop was at a community park in Brook, IN. I don’t think I have ever seen a water fountain inside the mouth of a lion.

Mile 39: Crossing Interstate 65 near Rensselaer, IN.

Mile 39: Robert crossing Interstate 65 near Rensselaer, IN.

Mile 39: View of Indiana farmlands from Interstate 65 overpass.