Cold Rain And Warm Showers

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The last three days were all days of steady rain. Yesterday morning was quite cool with the temp in the low 60s and a hard, steady rain pelting the ground. I was sitting in our little edit studio / video equipment storage room doing a bit of work when the phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but I answered anyway.

“Hi, my name is Brenna and I found your name on the Warmshowers list. I’m at the McDonalds in Quincy and looking for a place to stay for today.”

Now, the Warmshowers list ( is an internet database of touring cyclists willing to offer a warm shower and a place to stay to other touring cyclists that might be passing through their area. I’ver been on the list for years, since back when I lived in Connecticut, but we haven’t hosted any cyclists since I moved to the Boston area.

Anyway, it turns out that Brenna had started out from Boston yesterday morning, then got caught in the downpour of cold rain and found herself trying to warm up using the hand dryer in the rest room at our local McDonalds. I gave her our address and soon enough she was at the door, wet and cold but in a cheerful mood. We muscled her heavily laden bike down the stairs and into our condo, and Brenna treated herself to a hot shower and threw her wet clothes into the wash.

Brenna turned out to be a delightful guest. SHe did her first ever bicycle tour last year, cycling from Vancouver, British Columbia to Winnipeg, Manitoba in 28 days. For her second tour she set her sights a bit higher. Brenna set off from Winnipeg back in June, rode the rest of the way across Canada to the Atlantic, then headed south bound fro New York City. She’ll be in New York soon after exploring Cape Cod and heading through Connecticut to catch the ferry to Long Island. Once she reaches New York she will pack up her bicycle and gear and fly to Cape Town, South Africa. From there she will be spending most of a year exploring the continent of Africa.

I took a couple of photos of Brenna before she left this morning, then managed to delete everything on the card when I put it into my computer. A quarter century in IT, and I go and delete everything by mistake. Sigh…

Brenna does have a blog, which you can find at Check it out; she is a very interesting young woman!

Jodi and I have been planning this year’s bike tour for months now. Heck, we started last winter, when we decided that we would go to Israel. Planning has been at varying intensities, as time and interest dictated, but recently we’ve been hard at it as we decided we would be going in October. We’ve got the basis of an itinerary planned, starting way up north in the Golan Heights at Mt. Hermon, the highest point in Israel, then heading south to Lake Kinneret, aka the Sea of Galilee, then northwest to Rosh Ha-Nikra at the Lebanon border along the Mediterranean Sea, then down the coast to Haifa, the Carmel Forest, and Tel Aviv. From here we have to make the stiff climb up to Jerusalem. The idea of visiting a city that has existed for over 10,000 years is incredibly exciting.

From Jerusalem our plan is to head south into the Negev Desert, first dropping down to the Dead Sea and on to Masada, then heading back up to Mitspe Ramon on the edge of the Ramon Crater, then finally continuing south along the Egyptian border to the resort city of Eilat on the Red Sea.

We finally settled on the dates for our trip, and on the 16th we booked our flights on British Airways. Two days later I woke in the morning to read the news that a group of militants from the Gaza Strip had infiltrated Israel from the Sinai in Egypt and attacked an Israeli bus along Rt 12; the exact route we plan to cycle into Eilat.

Now I am as aware as any American — and probably more aware than most — of the complex issues and conflicts that plague the region, and I know our little vacation factors not at all when compared to the life and death issues faced by those trying to live their lives and build a future on both sides of the border fence, but I can’t help wondering why the PRC finds it necessary to ruin my holiday!

Well, we’re still planning to go to Israel, but if things don’t quiet down between now and then, we will have to cut our itinerary short and avoid traveling in southern Israel. We’ll be spending some days in Jerusalem anyway, and we’ll have plenty of time to assess the
situation before deciding whether and how far we will venture to the south.


Rolling With The Wheelmen

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The last two Saturdays Jodi and I have been joining group rides with the Charles River Wheelmen. The CRW is a cycling club in the Boston area, and they have a lot of rides west of Boston in the area of Concord and Lexington. There are still a lot of semi-rural, quiet back roads out that way, and on weekends many roads actually have more cyclists on them than motorists.

We have been doing more cycling and less running this year than we have in recent years. For our bike tour this year we have decided to go to Israel. Since it is way too hot to cycle there during the summer months, we will be going in October. That pretty much rules out running a fall marathon. It’s just as well, as the last couple of bike tours we did with way too little training and we — or at least I — suffered for it. If we’re running 4 or 5 days per week as part of training for a marathon, there isn’t much time or energy left for cycling. So this year once I finished the Mount Washington Road Race last month, I put running on the back burner and am concentrating on cycling. If we’re in decent cycling shape when we start our tour it will be much more enjoyable.

So, we’ve quite enjoyed our rides with the CRW, and I expect we will be riding with them more through the summer. The rides we’ve been on have been small enough that the group soon breaks up and we don’t end up in a big scrum of cyclists, but we see other of the cyclists often enough to be able to chat now and then. It doesn’t hurt that the roads and scenery are nice, either!


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I ran Mount Washington last year and finished in just under 2:05, so my goal for this year was to try to break 2 hours. I really didn’t think I was going to be able to do it, as I entered the race under-trained and overweight. In fact, I told Jodi, who was waiting for me at the summit, not to worry if it took me 2:15 or 2:30 to finish, as I figured I was going to end up walking almost the whole thing.

But the weather was a lot cooler than last year. I think that was the difference. I think my ratio of running to walking was about the same as last year, but I tried to take slightly shorter strides while walking, at a higher turnover. When I got near the top I was madly doing calculations in my head trying to figure out if I had a chance to come in under 2 hours. For the life of me I couldn’t remember the exact course distance, so wasn’t sure exactly how much further I had to go. On the last section that was at a shallow enough grade, I forced myself to run even though both calves were cramping and starting to spasm on me. Finally, I could hear the spectators at the finish and knew I had one last curve, then The Wall — 21% grade — up to the finish. I looked at my watch and I was within about half a minute of 2 hours. Pushing as hard as I could, I crossed the line and stopped my watch at 1:59:56. Phew! Four seconds to spare!

Unfortunately this race does not use a timing mat at the start, only at the finish. My official race time is gun time, which was 2:00:22. The 26 second difference is the time from when the gun went off until I actually reached the start line. I am quite disappointed that my official time isn’t under 2 hours.


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It snowed yesterday, and today I went cycling. So goes spring in New England.

There were still bits of snow on the ground where it was protected from the sun, but the roads were clear and dry, and I’ve been itchy to ride for a couple of weeks now.

I did make a classic cycling mistake. I left home headed for Wompatuck State Park, which is southeast of where we live. The wind today is blowing out of the northwest at 15 – 20 mph. When you ride with a tail-wind, you never think to yourself how that tailwind is really pushing you along. No, when you ride with a tail-wind you think about what great shape you’re in, and how this hardly feels like work at all. Then it comes time to turn around and start making your way back towards home, and you realize that you really aren’t Lance Armstrong, you’re just a play thing for the wind. The trip back home was pretty tough, and the last climb up and over Penn’s Hill left me with rubbery legs, but I made it.

I’ve got a new Brooks saddle on my bike, and so far I think I like it. I’ll have to work up to some reasonably long rides before I know for sure though.

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Mount Washington – Again!

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The lottery for entry numbers for the Mount Washington Road Race was today, and I got a number! I ran Mount Washington for the first time last year, and when I got the email today telling me I got in again this year, I was ecstatic. Then, immediately, I thought about how hard running up the mountain is, and I almost wished I hadn’t gotten a number. If I had lost in the lottery, well that wouldn’t have been my fault, it was just chance.

After watching me suffer and enjoy the run last year, Jodi decided she would like to take a crack at it too. Unfortunately, she didn’t get selected. It would have been fun to stand on the starting line together, but not this year.

I ran 2:05 last year, so now I’ve got three months to lose a few pounds of useless fat — I’m on the cusp of qualifying as a Clydesdale — and try to get my legs and lungs in shape so I can try to come in under two hours. It’s important to have goals.



I finally got around to uploading the photos from our bike trip. We didn’t take very many photos. This seems to be the biggest effect of me no longer using a handlebar bag. Since the camera was stashed down in one of my front panniers, it often seemed like too much effort to get it out to take a picture. Maybe I am getting exceedingly lazy as I get older.

In any case, the photos we did take can be seen here:

The Data

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Below is the daily break-down and total miles for the trip. Before we started I estimated the route at about 750 miles. Turns out I was pretty close, with the actual miles cycled coming in at 773.3.

07/25/2010 55.6 Erie, PA to Geneva State Park, OH
07/26/2010 56.9 Geneva State Park, OH to Cleveland Heights, OH
07/27/2010 22.2 “Rest” Day in Cleveland
07/28/2010 51.2 Cleveland, OH to Vermilion, OH
07/29/2010 76.0 Vermilion, OH to Maumee Bay State Park, OH
07/30/2010 59.8 Maumee Bay State Park, OH to Trenton, MI
07/31/2010 15.7 Trenton, MI to Dearborn, MI
08/01/2010 0.0 Dearborn, MI
08/02/2010 67.5 Dearborn, MI to Algonac State Park, MI
08/03/2010 59.9 Algonac State Park, MI to Rondeau Provincial Park, ON
08/04/2010 51.6 Rondeau Provincial Park, ON to Port Stanley, ON
08/05/2010 66.5 Port Stanley, ON to Port Dover, ON
08/06/2010 62.6 Port Dover, ON to Port Colborn, ON
08/07/2010 56.3 Port Colborn, ON to Evangola State Park, NY
08/08/2010 71.5 Evangola State Park, NY to Erie, PA

TOTAL 773.3

Sunday, August 8


From the time we left the campground this morning, all we did was fight our way into the wind. We were riding southwest along Rt 5, following the shore of Lake Erie. Meanwhile, the wind was blowing straight out of the southwest, either directly into our face or just off the port bow. There wasn’t much fun in today’s ride, just hard work. At times we were actually cycling down hill, in the drops, pedaling away, and barely making 10 MPH.

As the day went on the wind only increased. We considered stopping and finishing the ride tomorrow, but there were a few things against that plan:

– The forecast called for the wind to stay out of the west or southwest through tomorrow – The forecast also called for a chance of rain tonight and tomorrow – There really wasn’t anyplace to stay anyway

So we pushed on. We cycled from 8:00 this morning until 4:00 this afternoon, and fought our way to Erie, battling the wind the whole way. We stopped for breakfast, and we stopped for lunch. Other than that, we just rode. Thank goodness Jodi is such a strong cyclist. I’m sure she pulled more than her share of the day today.

There are probably other things I should write about, but we are wickedly tired and all I can remember is fighting the incessant headwind, so I’ll quit. Suffice to day we made it back to Erie, and closed the circle on our trip around Lake Erie.

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Saturday, August 7

Back in the US, Back in the US…

Well, that’s it. We’re back in the US. Back in the land of rude and dangerous drivers. Welcome home!

It was chilly in Port Colborn this morning. The temp was only in the 60s as we left our suite and rode up to the main drag through town, Rt 3, where we had breakfast at Sambo’s. Sambo’s had been recommended to us as THE place in town for breakfast. After breakfast we rode back down to the lift bridge, where we had to wait a good 20 minutes or so as another lake freighter went through, then we crossed the canal and got on the Friendship Trail, which is a paved rail trail that goes all the way from Port Colborn to Fort Erie.

We took our time cycling lazily along the rail trail, enjoying the cool, dry weather, the sunshine, the other people out on the trail on a Saturday morning, and the farmers’ market we passed along the way. We didn’t finish the 20 or so miles to Fort Erie until after 11:00. When we arrived at Historic Fort Erie, there was a reenacters weekend event going on. We stopped to watch and wander around for as while, and got to see the reenactment of the British surrender.

We crossed the Niagara River into Buffalo, NY on the Peace Bridge. On the Canadian side the approach to the bridge is well signed directing pedestrians and cyclists onto the sidewalk, the entrance to which otherwise would not be obvious. When we reached the US side of the bridge we checked in with customs, whcih was a quick and painless process. Then we had no idea where to go. We exited out into a parking lot, which looked like it’s entrance was off a highway. No signs directing us which way to go. We followed a sidewalk around the side of the building and down a narrowing alley between the building and a fence. We barely squeezed through and found ourselves just past the area where motor vehicles went through customs, so exited out onto the street.

We made our way along the shore in Buffalo, using a totally unmarked bike path part of the way, then navigating city streets for the most part. The waterfront of Buffalo is made up mostly of abandoned industrial buildings, but you can see where new development is starting to spruce up the town.

Getting out of Buffalo entailed dealing with some aggressive drivers, a sad letdown after cycling in Canada, where not one driver ever crowded us on the road. We finally turned off Rt 5 onto Old Lake Shore Drive, which eased the traffic a lot and after stopping to buy something for dinner, we made it to Evangola State Park about 4:30. There was a sign on the office door saying there were no sites available, but I went in and talked to the young guy manning the desk. I asked if they had a spot somewhere where a couple of tired cyclists could pitch a tent. He said no, even their bad sites were full. I told him all we needed was a piece of grass somewhere to pitch our tent. He stared at the campground map and thought a bit. Then he said there was a spot under some trees we could camp. We walked outside together and he pointed across a field to a spot of nicely mown grass with a few big shade trees hanging over. Perfect!

After paying we cycled down here and it was a perfect spot. We are next to a regular campsite, and they had two picnic tables, so they let us use one of them. So, even though we are not at an official campsite, we have a flat, grassy area for our tent, and a picnic table to eat and type blog entries at. And we have way more room than the crowded campsites. Perfect!

We are 70 miles from Erie, PA, so we might finish our trip tomorrow. We don’t really want it to end, though, so we might putter along and make it last one more day.

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Friday, August 6

What a difference a day makes! Actually, what a difference a storm makes. The storm that chased us into Port Dover yesterday afternoon left lower temperatures and drier air in its wake.

For the most part, today’s riding stuck very closely to the shore of Lake Erie, and treated us to very quiet, minor roads. We took our time, stopping at a small cross-roads restaurant for second breakfast, at a lake-front mini-golf / ice cream shop / hot dog stand for hot dogs and soda (I eat about one hot dog per decade, so I guess I’m set until 2020), and along the side of the road somewhere to snack on a can of mixed nuts we were carrying.

We weren’t sure we were going to make it all the way to Port Colborn today or not, but I really wanted to because it is here that the Welland Canal, which joins Lake Ontario to Lake Erie, meets the lake. When we cycled around Lake Ontario some few years ago, we rode alongside the Welland Canal for part of a day. Now we are at the other end of the Canal, and that gives me some sense of joining the two trips.

When we got here we rode around town a bit looking for a place to stay. We stopped at an antique store on West Street, fronting the canal, and Jodi went in to ask if they could point us toward a place to stay for the night. The proprietor took us next door to a bar / restaurant that has a bedroom / kitchen suite upstairs, and that is where we are staying tonight.

The canal splits the town of Port Colborn in two, and they are joined by a lift bridge. The windows of our suite look directly out on the bridge, and we’ve enjoyed watching the bridge lift a couple of times and some of the lake steamers making their way into and out of the canal.

When we leave here tomorrow morning we have about a 20 mile ride along a bike path to Fort Erie, then we will cross the Peace Bridge into Buffalo, NY and will have to contend with rude American drivers yet again.

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Thursday, August 5

We really enjoyed our stay on Port Stanley last night. We lucked out and picked what is probably the best place to stay in town. The food was really good, and we ended up eating lunch, dinner, and breakfast at the inn.

The terrain changed a lot today. For the last couple of days the landscape was dead flat, and the roads were laid out in a grid. We rode through mile after mile of farm crops. I am guessing a lot, but it looked to me like a mixture of corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, tobacco, and potatoes. Being so wide open, we have been at the mercy of the wind, whether it was for or against us.

Yesterday we encountered a couple of instances where we would come to a steep, short decline down into a river valley, where we would find a town at the mouth of the river — Port Stanley being a perfect example default iconAug05.gpx

Short Term ForecastUpdated: Wednesday, August 4, 2010, 15:00 EDT

eveningEvening: 6:00 PM – 11:59 PM
overnightOvernight: 12:00 AM – 5:59 AM
morningMorning: 6:00 AM – 11:59 AM
afternoonAfternoon: 12:00 PM – 5:59 PM
Chance of thunder- showers Isolated showers Chance of thunder- showers Chance of thunder- showers
Chance of thunder- showers Isolated showers Chance of thunder- showers Chance of thunder- showers
Temp. 27°C 21°C 23°C 28°C
Feels Like 38 30 36
Wind SW 15km/h W 15km/h W 15km/h W 30km/h
Humidity 79% 83% 78% 66%
P.O.P. 30% 30% 30% 30%
Rain less than 1mm less than 1mm less than 1mm close to 1mm

24-Hour Precipitation Outlook

  • close to 1 mm of rain from Wednesday evening to Thursday afternoon; higher amounts in thunderstorms

Wednesday, August 4

Yet another hot and muggy day. This weather is taking a toll on me. Yeah, I’m sure it’s the weather. It can’t have anything to do with being old and fat and out of shape. It must be the weather.

Yesterday afternoon, and again today, I just didn’t have much power in my legs. Jodi did at least 75 or 80% of the pulling. Fortunately there was very little wind today, and what we did have was a tail-wind most of the time. We made really good time today, with Jodi pulling us along between 17 and 19 MPH for the first 20 miles, until we stopped in New Glasgow for breakfast.

A little later we stopped at a farm stand, and the woman running the place agreed to sell us half a container of cherry tomatoes which made a delicious snack. While we were seated at a picnic table outside of the farm stand, we enjoyed a conversation with a local who stopped in to do some shopping.

We finished our ride in Port Stanley today; making a slightly short day at about 52 miles. Still, my legs were burning by the time we got here. Maybe it’s because it is so flat around here, so the same muscles are doing the same exact motion all day. We’ve got a really nice room at the Kettle Creek Inn, and while checking in we had a fun conversation with the proprietress, who has cycled a big chunk of the Tour d’Afrique, from Tanzania to Cape Town, as well as touring in Cuba, the far east, and all over Canada. Being cyclists earned us a bit of a discount on the room, too, which is always nice.

Jodi is napping now, and I am probably going to do the same, until it is time to go in search of some dinner in a couple of hours.

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Tuesday, August 3

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, we were invited to dinner by a couple staying in the same campground last night. George and Dale were wonderful hosts in their well-appointed motor home. We spent a couple hours there enjoying their company, and the nice meal the served us. While we were eating we got to see several freighters pass up or down Lake St. Clair, making their way between Lake Huron and Lake Erie.

After a difficult night’s sleep, due to the hot and sticky conditions last night, we somehow made it out of the campground in record time this morning. We rode an easy six miles or so up the US side of the St Clair River, to the little town of Marine City, MI. Before taking the ferry across to Sombra, ON, we stopped in the local diner for a second breakfast. The ferry ride was quick and easy, costing us the princely sum of $1.00 per bicycle. We stopped at the bank in Sombra to try to get some Canadian currency, but they did not have an ATM. No worries, five miles down the road in Port Lambton there was a credit union with an ATM. With some coin of the realm in our pockets, we continued on to Wallaceburg, where we traded some of our cash for an ice cold bottle of Gatorade and a can of peanuts to snack on, then headed to Dresden for lunch. From Dresden we made a long, painful slog south into a strong cross wind, coming at us from about 70 degrees or so. Jodi was handling the conditions just fine, but the wind was shoving me around on the road and reducing my forward progress to a crawl. After an interminable afternoon of hot and sweaty grinding into the wind, we finally made it to Eatonville where the route turns east, but we continued south another 6k to Rondeau so we could camp here at the Provincial Park.

I had heard that the prices in Canada’s provincial parks were getting expensive, and they are indeed. One of the cheapest sites here set us back $37.50. Yikes!

Even with my wind-induced misery this afternoon, I do love cycling in Canada. The drivers are so polite! The roads around here mostly have no shoulders, and several times today we had trailer trucks behind us geared down to low and crawling along behind us waiting until it was safe for them to pass. That simply does not happen in the States.

It was wickedly hot and humid all day today; what Jodi refers to as “a steamer.” But over the last couple of hours it seems like a lot of the humidity has blown out and the air is getting fresher and drier. We are on a bit of a peninsula jutting into Lake Erie, and there is a nice breeze blowing. It will be wonderful if it continues all night.

Tomorrow we will probably strike for Port Stanley, and a night in a motel.

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Monday, August 2

What a great day of cycling!

We left our hotel about 8:00 this morning, using the sidewalk to backtrack west on Michigan Avenue. I am not a fan of sidewalk cycling, but the alternative was to cross 4 lanes of traffic to make a U-Turn down the road, and the intersection was around a blind curve, so we didn’t want to do that.

We rode down Miller Road past Ford’s River Rouge Plant. which is an awesome sight in itself, and is also an historic place and the site of The Battle of The Overpass. I was really happy to see it.

We continued into Detroit, using Fort St and Jefferson Ave to make our way through Detroit paralleling the Detroit River. I had heard a lot about the depopulation of Detroit, but it was still stunning to see it. Huge, wide boulevards of four and six lanes with almost no traffic, at 9:00AM on a Monday morning. Whole neighborhoods of abandoned buildings. Home, factories, and shops burned out and decaying into the ground. It was both sad and fascinating to see.

We rode through downtown, past the Ford building, past the General Motors building. On our way out of town we rode past a Chrysler Assembly Plant. Both south of downtown, and to a lesser extent north of downtown, Detroit looked like a very depressed city. Then we crossed the border into Grosse Point Park, and in the distance of one side of the street to the other, everything was wealth and huge mansions with manicured lawns and gardens tended by hired help.

We rode through the various Grosse Points and finally reached St. Clair, and a cyclist coming out of a side street called out to us. It turned out to be Dick Williams, who I connected with on the ‘net while planning this trip, and who has shared lots of good info about routing through the Detroit area. Dick was heading into Detroit to do some photography, but graciously offered to guide us through his neck of the woods. We stopped for 2nd breakfast with Dick and enjoyed chewing the fat along with our meal.

The cycling today was wonderful. Smooth pavement, no hills, and, for the most part, a tailwind. We also had Dick who pulled us for a number of miles. All of this added up to a relatively easy day of 65 miles ro so. We are now camped under a couple of nice shade trees, yards from the shore of the St. Clair River. We can easily see the houses across the river, in Canada, where we will be tomorrow. We are only about 7 miles south of Marine City, where we will get the ferry to Canada in the morning.

Oh, and a couple camped here in their RV has invited to dinner in less than an hour. Life is good!

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Dearborn, MI


Sunday, August 1

No cycling today. We spent the day at Greenfield Village, part of the Henry Ford Museum complex. We had a ride in a 1915 Model T; very cool. We saw the Wright Brother’s Bicycle Shop, and I think confused the woman interpreter there because we were more interested in the period bicycles and accouterments than we were in the airplane stuff. We watched part of a baseball game played by 1860-something rules. Toured a replica of Edison’s Menlo Park complex. Lots of other stuff.

Trenton, MI to Dearborn, MI

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We did a short (less than 16 miles) ride today to a Hampton Inn in Dearborn, less than a mile from The Henry Ford Museum, arriving around 9:30 this morning. I used Google Maps bicycle routing to plan the route last night, and downloaded it to my GPS. It turned out to be a very pleasant route, wending through quiet residential streets. The hotel is on Michigan Avenue, which is a 6 – 8 lane divided highway with a 45 mph speed limit and traffic moving much faster than the limit, but traffic was fairly light and we claimed the right lane for ourselves with no problems.

We left our bikes and panniers at the hotel and walked the mile or so to the museum. We bought our museum tickets in a package with the hotel room, which saved us a few bucks, and got us tickets to both the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. We spent all day today at the museum, which is amazing. We didn’t see it all, because after a certain number of hours we were just burned out and couldn’t take it all in anymore.

We are going to stay here for two nights, so we can spend tomorrow at the Village, then on Monday morning we will head out on our bikes. It’s about 10 miles from here to downtown Detroit, then about 50 miles north up the Detroit River and around the west side of Lake St Clair to a state park where we can camp.

It is nice to think that we can sleep late tomorrow morning ad not have to get up and get on the road.

The photo here is of a 10-person bicycle hanging the The Henry Ford Museum.

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Friday, 7/30

Good-bye Ohio. Hello Michigan.

Gosh, it was a beautiful evening last night. Cool, dry air with a light breeze, and a full moon that was bright enough pouring through the door of our tent that it actually woke me last night.

We started our journey today riding up one side of the river and down the other in Toledo. The east side of the river hosts oil refineries, landfills, and that kind of industry. It was interesting for a while.

One of the roads we planned to use was closed due to work being done on a railroad crossing, but with bicycles we just walked around the construction crew and went on our way. We shared the road with a ot of heavy truck traffic, but had no issues. The parts of Toledo we saw looked quite depressed, though I’m sure there are parts of town that are nice. We passed a lot of older, run-down homes that were obviously beautiful in days gone by.

The road north along the Detroit River was ugly, tedious, and difficult. The road must have been concrete in years past, and it has now been paved over. At every expansion joint in the underlying concrete, the pavement heaves and cracks. That makes ofr very uncomfortable riding.

Maybe it was just us and our mood, but it seemed that other drivers today were less polite, more impatient, and more aggressive today than they have been. I think we were also just tired after pushing hard for 80 miles yesterday. In any event, we set out planning to ride up the river to Wyandotte, then turning inland to Dearborn. Instead, we quit in Trenton. Our plan now is to ride to Dearborn tomorrow morning where we have reservations in a hotel, and tickets for the Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. The forecast tomorrow calls for rain, and depending on how bad it is, we may or may not take in everything tomorrow. If not, we can stay over another day. Whichever day we leave Dearborn, we’ll ride the ten miles or so into downtown Detroit, and north out of town along the Detroit River.The day after that we should be in Canada.

Hey Anju, if you are reading this, HAPPY AIRPLANE DAY tomorrow!

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Thursday, July 29

There were severe thunderstorm warnings last night for Vermilion, and we did get a couple of storms passing through, but it didn’t amount to as much as was expected. Still, the hotel we were in was really nice and comfortable, and the breakfast this morning (included) was quite good. We were completely satisfied that we got our money’s worth.

Today was our biggest day yet, and we were a bit trepidatious about it, but it came off as well as could possibly be expected. After the storms came through last night the winds shifted around to the north, so we had mostly side winds instead of head winds today. We are reaching the western end of Lake Erie, so are moving northwest rather than southwest, and we had a few sections where we rode due north today, which was tough going straight into the wind.

We left Vermilion about 8:00, and rode about 22 or 23 miles to Sandusky, where we found a restaurant serving breakfast. The meal was good, but the service was really slow, so we were there about an hour. As we were leaving, and retrieving our bikes parked on the sidewalk outside, we spent a few minutes chatting with a couple sitting at an outside table who were cyclists as well, then we headed back out on the road.

From Sandusky we headed to Port Clinton, on the other side of Sandusky Bay. The only was across the bay is on the Rt 2 causeway, which is a highway and is actually closed to cyclists. The being no other way, we got on at the last entrance before the causeway, cycled over the causeway and bridges on the wide shoulder, and got off at the first exit. The riding was not at all difficult, but my personality does not lend itself to breaking rules, so I was anxious the entire time. It was a relief to be off the highway and back on legal roads.

We rode 163 for a while, then eventually had to hook up with Rt 2 again. By this point Rt 2 is no longer a limited access highway, and was perfectly legal for us to ride on. But it still carried all the same traffic, including lots of semis. For most of the way the shoulder was extremely narrow and in very bad repair, so the riding was not even remotely enjoyable. We just took turns pulling in to the wind while high-speed traffic whizzed by our left shoulders.

About 70 miles into our ride we were finally able to get off of Rt 2 and onto some quieter roads. It was peaceful and nice, but by now I was getting tired and just wanted to get to our destination, so I kept pushing hard and we finally arrived here at the park with about 76 miles on the odometer. Phew, we did it!

Once we got our campsite we set the tent up and stashed our panniers inside, then rode the bike path down to the beach. We hadn’t yet sampled the waters of Lake Erie, and wanted to do that. Nope. Nyet. No thank you! The water was opaque green, with long tendrils of algae floating in the surf. We dipped our feet in, and that was enough. By the time we rode back to our campsite, we had a bit over 80 miles on the odometer, so today was an 80 mile day. We feel pretty darned good considering how much ground we covered today.

It is a beautiful evening out; clear, cool and dry, with a nice breeze blowing. The air feels wonderful, and yet most of the campers here and the AC running on their RV’s. I don’t get it.

Tomorrow we will be off to Toledo, and then we’ll strike north towards Detroit.

Allen & Jodi

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Wednesday, 7/28

Wow, I slept well last night! I slept for about 10 hours, and when we woke around 7:00 this morning, I told Jodi I could sleep for 2 or 3 more hours. You can’t make much progress by sleeping, though, so we got up and went downstairs for the small continental breakfast the Alcazar serves, then we set out around 8:00.

We retraced the now familiar route down to the lake-front, then along the lake-front bikeway and the frontage road towards the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I’ve never been a fan of bike paths, and this one is no exception. Poor signage and minimal maintenance make for a poor ride. The bikeway also uses a frontage road squeezed between the highway and the airport, and traveled by trucks coming and going from a landfill or transfer station of some sort. We had to yell to each other to be heard above the traffic noise.

After riding around the Rock Hall, the science museum, and the Cleveland Browns Stadium, we merged back onto city streets and made our way over to the Detroit Superior Bridge. It was 9:00AM, the height of the morning rush hour, and I was amazed at how light the downtown traffic was. It was trivially easy to make our way through town and across the Cuyahoga River.

Once we left Cleveland we entered Lakewood, where we rode by block after block of beautiful homes. We stopped in Rocky River for a mid-morning snack about 20 miles into the day, then we rode through Bay Village, Avon Lake, Sheffield Lake, and into Lorain. It was noon when we reached Lorain with 40 miles on the odometer, where we stopped for lunch.

The wind was out of the southwest today, givings us a full-on headwind. As the day progressed the wind picked up, and by now we were working awfully hard to keep our forward progress going. It was also getting hot and very humid. We decided to push on just a bit further, to Vermilion, and look for a place to stay there. It was only about another 10 miles from Lorain to Vermilion, but it was a good job of work. We were riding on a four-lane, 55 MPH road with no or minimal shoulder, the wind was blowing hard, the humidity was high, and the thermometer on my bike computer registered 101 degrees out on the road in the sun.

When we got to Vermilion we stopped for a root beer float and asked the woman who waited on us if she knew of a place to get a room in town. She recommended the Holiday Inn Express about a mile out of town, at an exit off the highway. It was a good recommendation and that is where we are now. We’ve had a dip in the pool and a shower. Jodi is napping — “resting her eyes” she calls it — and I am watching The Andy Griffith Show on TV and writing this blog. It looks like the promised storms are building outside, so we’ll probably order something delivered for dinner tonight.

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“Rest” Day in Cleveland


Tuesday, 7/27

As usual, Jodi and I started this tour pitifully under-trained. I’m sure we had less than 200 miles of riding this year before we started. For the first two days of the trip, we covered about 110 miles from Erie, PA to Cleveland Heights, OH. We’ve had fun, but are definitely feeling the miles, so we decided to take it easy today. Since we are here in Cleveland, the obvious choice of what to do was to ride to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (, so we did. Actually, the Hall of Fame is right on the ACA route, so we simply followed the route out of Cleveland Heights, down to the Lake front, and west along the lake until we arrived. The entire trip was only about 13 miles.

Once we finished at the Hall of Fame, we retraced our way about 9 miles back towards Cleveland Heights, until we arrived at The Alcazar Hotel (, which is a really neat 1920’s hotel. Nowadays it serves as a mixture of senior living, corporate apartments, and some hotel/B&B rooms. It was recommended to us by Ann, our host from last night (Thanks Ann, for your wonderful hospitality!), because it is reasonably priced, an interesting building, and situated in a neighborhood offering places to eat and things to do within walking distance.

We cycled 22.3 miles today, so it wasn’t really an off-the-bike rest day, but it was much more restful than cycling 50 or 60 miles.

The weather has been great since Sunday morning’s storms blew by, but tomorrow promises to bring more showers and storms in the afternoon. We are going to take a look at the map and try to figure a short day tomorrow that will hopefully get us under cover before the storms hit. Come Thursday, we should be dry again at least through the week end.

Today’s map might not look like 22 miles, but that is because we basically cycled out and back on the same route.

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Monday, 7/26

We had a good night at the campground. It cooled down to the low 60’s overnight, and the air was dry, or at least much drier than it has been much of this summer, so we slept well. We were up at 6:00 but didn’t make it out of the campground until almost 8:00. We did eat before leaving camp – a cup of tea, some instant oatmeal, a bagel, and some fruit — but by 9:00 we were sitting in a restaurant we saw at a small crossroads eating our second breakfast. If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then it makes sense to eat it twice!

It was only 63 degrees when we left the campground this morning, and riding in thr sunshine felt great. There was almost no wind, and we made pretty good time.

I had a flat tire yesterday, so I guess Jodi was conscious of the state of my tires and at one point told me she thought my back tire looked flat. We stopped so I could check, and everything was fine. Then I started off again only to hear Jodi call from behind “I have a flat!” Apparently Jodi had been riding all morning with a slow leak, letting her front tire get softer and softer. She was wondering why she was having such a hard time pedaling, and was worried that she wouldn’t be able to do her share of “pulling.” Well, once we changed her tube and got her tire back up to normal pressure, she was back in her usual strong form on the bike.

The town of Painesville has a beautiful town square, with the county courthouse on one side, a couple of churches anchoring either end, the town offices, and a bank or two; all of the institutions that lend solidity to a community. We stopped for a rest and a snack sitting on a bench in the town square, and passed a comfortable half hour or so before continuing on our way.

Somewhere after Painesville our route took us down a steep grade and we built up speed in anticipation of the upcoming climb back up the next hill. Unfortunately the road was under construction and we were stopped in a long line of vehicles being held by a flagman. When we were allowed to go we had to tackle the step climb from a standstill. Since the road was reduced to a single narrow lane a line of cars had to crawl up the hill behind us. We’ve seen a lot of road construction already, much of it with signs proclaiming that it is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

In early afternoon we passed through Gates Mills, which is a beautiful, and obviously expensive, suburb of Cleveland. We were overdue for lunch and passed a restaurant in an old building with an inviting outside seating area, so we stopped. What a wonderful lunch we had! The food was excellent, and for the area the price was much more reasonable than I had expected.

Finally, we pushed on to Cleveland Heights, where we are staying with a host in her lovely, comfortable house. We’ve had a meal with Ann and her friend Mary, taken a walking tour of the neighborhood, and swapped cycling stories.

Since we started this tour with way too little training, I am definitely feeling the miles covered the last two days in my legs. We are planning to take a day off tomorrow and be tourists in Cleveland. We might spend tomorrow night with another Warmshowers host, or we might get a hotel room somewhere in town.

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Monday, July 25

We got a surprisingly good night’s rest at the fleabag motel we stayed at in Erie (the Thunderbird Motel, if anyone is interested). We were up and out by about 7:00AM. It looked like it never did rain last night, and was still very muggy and quite warm. We rode a couple of hundred yards down the street to a breakfast place, under huge black clouds that promised rain, and sure enough, it started raining while we were eating breakfast. We dallied as long as we could, nursing several cups of coffee, and had the very nice folks working there fill all our water bottles for us. Oh, we filled the bottles there because both the hot and cold faucets on our luxury motel room served up hot water!

It looked like the rain was easing up so I put the rain covers on my panniers, we both donned rain jackets, and we set off. We only made it a half mile or so when the rain started coming down hard and we heard thunder. Instead of plowing and getting soaked we turned into a small office plaza and took refuge under the overhang in front of the building. We stood around there for at least an hour, probably more. Every time it seemed like the rain was letting up, another line of heavy rain and lightning came barreling through. Finally, during one of the lulls between downpours, we pedaled back a quarter mile or so to the local McDonalds, and sat out the rest of the storm there.

A few minutes before 11:00 we made it out of town with the last remnants of the rain dripping and misting on us. As the storms came through the wind shifted around from west to north, which was good for us as we were heading southwest or west all day. Side winds are no picnic, but they are a far sight better than headwinds!

We rode Lake Rd nearly all day, which was nearly flat and almost always smooth. In Pennsylvania is mostly had a wide shoulder, but once we crossed the border into Ohio the shoulder went away and we shared the narrow lane with motor traffic. The drivers here are much more polite than Boston drivers are, and we had zero problems sharing the road.

Coming into Conneaut we rode past an old fashioned drive-in and promptly turned around and went back, for a root beer float made with locally made root beer. Dessert taken care of, we finished riding into town and stopped at a diner for lunch. By now I was feeling the 30 or so miles in my legs, but Jodi was as strong as ever, so she pulled for most of the remaining 25 miles through Ashtabula, where we stopped to buy food for tonight and tomorrow morning, and on through Geneva-on-the-Lake to the park where we are camped for the night.

Geneva-on-the-Lake is a little touristy town, with a Main Street lined with touristy shops and teeming with people. We had to slow down for the jam of motor traffic in town, and enjoyed watching all the vacationing people along the way.

The weather cleared and the air dried substantially this afternoon. It is a beautiful evening now, and the forecast says it should drop into the low 60’s tonight; good sleeping weather. We are still in the eastern time zone, but about 600 miles further west than Boston, so it stays light later than we are used to. It is 7:45 now, and barely starting to turn to dusk.

Tomorrow, if all goes well, we will ride to Cleveland Heights, where we will be staying at the home of another cyclist we connected with through, which is an internet site where cyclists volunteer to host other touring cyclists in their homes.


Erie, PA

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I was up at 4:00 this morning, loading the car at 5L00, and we were on the road by 5:30. A few minutes after 3:00 we were here in Erie, zeroing in on the address where we were to leave the car parked for the next two weeks or so.

We drove through a couple of storms on the way here, and when we got here it was wickedly hot and humid. The local forecast says the heat index is over 100. While we were getting the bikes down off the roof of the car, mounting the panniers, and making sure everything was squared away, thunder was rumbling nearby and a few big fat drops of rain were plopping around us. We decided not to try to camp tonight, but to get s motel room instead. The campground is likely full anyway, but with the heat, the impending storms, and the fact that there are tornado watches up in some of the surrounding counties, it just doesn’t seem like a good night to sleep outside. Besides, we never did get those hurricane stakes for our tent. 😉

Being Saturday, and being a bit of a tourist area, all the decent motels are full, so we have a room in a typical flea-bag motel. The TV doesn’t work, there is an ashtray on the night stand, even though the clerk claimed this is a non-smoking room, there is an open electrical junction box in the wall next to the door, the bathroom door doesn’t close, and oh, the clerk also claims this room was “recently renovated.” Yeah right, just about 1976, I think.

But the AC works, the bed is reasonably comfortable, I haven’t seen any wildlife scooting across the floor or up the walls, and the water in the shower is hot, so we should get a decent night’s sleep, and in the morning we will be off.

Driving into Erie along 12th Street (I think) we passed block after block of old factories and other industrial plants. This must have been a humming working town in years gone by.

Good night from Erie, PA.