When it Rains, it Pours

27 07 2010

The three of us before saying goodbye to Alan and Bonnie

7/18/10
Mileage:  79.49
Average:  16.9

After having a lovely breakfast with Al and Bonnie we were extremely sad to say good-bye.  But it had to be done because we still had about a 2 hour drive ahead of us to get back to Farmington, Missouri.  We had so much fun hanging out and talking with Al and Bonnie.  We are so grateful for everything they did for us.  If you are reading this, thank you so much.  We love you both. 

While driving to Farmington, we ran into a horrible storm.  With the windshield wipers running at full speed we still could not see more than a couple feet in front of us.  When we arrived in Farmington the storm wasn’t letting up, so we sat in the car for about an hour to wait it off.  Then Alex and Colin were off again and like usual, it felt weird being back on the bike after a day off.  Also it felt weird not having one of our members, Joe, with us.  With the rain still coming down, we decided to leave Farmington and give biking a try.  After 10 miles into the ride the rain stopped.  Luckily it stayed cloudy for most of the day which meant a nice break from the scolding sun.  The ride went pretty smooth and much quicker than we imagined.  Before we knew it we were riding over the Mississippi River into Illinois.  The first town we entered upon crossing the bridge was Chester, home of Popeye.  It is fun to learn quirky facts like this while passing through different towns.  While in Chester we tried to find our friend John because we were trying to coax him into coming up to New York on his way to D.C.  We needed to show him our maps but unfortunately we weren’t able to find him.  Since we started so late and had about 40 miles ahead of us, we had to move on.  We ended at Murphysboro, Illinois and stayed at Murphysboro Lake state park.  We found a beautiful site right on the lake surrounded by blooming water lilies.

This location allowed us to learn another inanimate object that Bandit is afraid of: lily pads!  While walking on a dock we quickly learned that he was a bit weary of the large green objects floating near by.  After falling asleep pretty early we all awoke to the sound of thunder in the distance around midnight.  Quickly, we got out of our tents and put on our rain flaps.  As soon as we had the rain flaps on, it started to pour.  Soon the storm was directly above our campsite and the thunder seemed to make our hearts skip a beat; it was so loud and powerful. 

7/19/10
Mileage:  112.50
Average:  19.5

With a high mileage day in our plans we got going early.  Our goal was to get from Murphysboro, Illinois to Owensboro, Kentucky because we don’t have maps that navigate us between these two towns; which means we didn’t know where there was camping.  The total mileage for the ride would be about 140 miles, quite a bit more than what we are used too.  But we knew we could do it, if we started early enough and were smart about it.  The first 70 miles were on a two lane highway.  It wasn’t ideal but it had a nice shoulder and it was pretty much flat so we were able to average about 20 mph.  We had wished we were on the back roads actually seeing the country rather then seeing commercial towns and a whole lot of cars.  However, we didn’t know what other way to go, so we sucked it up and moved as quickly as we could to get off the highway.  

Once we crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky we got off the two lane highway to a smaller road.  It still wasn’t ideal but it was much better than before.  We couldn’t believe that we had finished another state and were going to be in Eastern Standard Time the next day.  Then, when we reached about 110 miles we could see a storm on our left and we could tell that it was coming our way.  What we have found out about storms in the south is that they happen quickly and are quite harsh.  We thought we were going to be able to get in 5 miles before it hit but oh, were we wrong.  The wind started to pick up and we weren’t moving at all.  Then the rain came and it started to down pour within seconds.  Hurrying as quickly as we could, we got off our bikes and ran into a Walgreens where we decided what we should do.  Once Brittany caught up to us we decided we were going to be done for the day.  The main reason was because we had a hotel room for the night.  Mrs. Reynolds, Alex’s girlfriend Megan Reynolds’s mom, was gracious enough to get us a room for the night.  Thank you Mrs. Reynolds, it was wonderful to have a place to stay for the night!

  From Harrisburg, where we stopped, we drove to Evansville Indiana were our hotel was.  While at the hotel, we didn’t do much besides eating and relaxing.  While watching the rain continue to come down on and off throughout the night, we were increasingly thankful to have a warm and dry place to call home for the night.  We decided to sleep in a little bit since the next week is going to be tough until we get to Colin’s Aunt and Uncles house in Medina, Ohio. 

7/20/10
Mileage:  90.3
Average:  18.5

After filling out stomachs as much as we could at the continental breakfast we departed from our lovely hotel.  Again, thank you Mrs. Reynolds.  It is amazing how having a hotel for one night is such a relief.  I know we are getting sick of bugs and sweating non-stop throughout the night.  We haven’t commented yet about how Bandit is not only a chick magnet but also a tick magnet.  Brittany and Colin have taken off 10 or more ticks from him.  There have been a few times during the night when Brittany has had a tick crawling up her neck, arms, and legs.  So yes having a gift like a hotel is huge.  Not only does it mean not having a bug bite for the night but showers and a warm bed. 

After sleeping in, filling the cooler and water jug with free ice, and packing up, we finally started biking around 12.  For most of the ride we followed the Ohio River which was really pretty.  Colin absolutely loved a old Mansion that they biked by and for about 20 miles couldn’t think about anything else.  After biking by it Colin said to Alex “That house is going to be the house Brittany is going to rebuild for me.  Just like in one of my favorite movies: The Notebook.  It has so much potential and its right on the Ohio River!”  Alex had no clue what to say to Colin’s masculine comments. 

At the end of the day we guessed we were only about 5-10 miles away from the Eastern Time Zone.  We couldn’t believe it, home is just around the corner.  It’s so close we can feel it! 

We stayed at a wildlife management area a little outside of Stephensport, Kentucky and didn’t actually know if it was a campsite or not.  There were some really sketchy bathrooms that none of us even wanted to check out.  Since it has been so humid we haven’t been putting on the rain flaps and of course during the middle of the night we all had to get up and put them on.  Since Colin and Brittany didn’t have time to put stakes in their rain flap the water still managed to come into the tent; which actually didn’t feel so bad since it was still so warm.  Since Joe has left us it has rained everyday.  Before that we probably only had about 1 or 2 days of rain.  The only plausible explanation is that Zeus is so upset, every day he is cries.  There is no way it has anything to do with the heat wave the north east has been facing, it just doesn’t make sense.

7/21/10
Mileage: 110.82
Average: 18.2

  While sleeping at the Yellowbank Wildlife Management Area a severe storm came through and dumped buckets of rain on us. The tents might as well have been in a lake because if we hadn’t been weighing them down I’m sure they would’ve floated away! We were lucky to not have a drop of rain through the first half of the trip, but we certainly have gotten our fair share through the Midwestern states. After packing up our damp belongings we continued on through the remaining part of Kentucky – for now at least. After crossing the Ohio River into Indiana we made our way into Corydon to find a bike shop where we could restock our depleted supply of tubes. Unfortunately the only bike shop in town had closed its doors for good so we had to move on after a short break and hope we didn’t get another flat. After another 20 miles of rolling hills we found ourselves riding through New Albany, one of the suburbs of Louisville across the Ohio River.

  We had planned to meet Brittany here, but before we knew it we were already past the city so we decided to meet Brittany another 20 miles past where we were. The plan for the night was to camp in Madison, Indiana at Cifty Falls State Park so after making it through the next few small towns we arrived at the park. After assuring the attendant that we already had a site (thanks to Brittany for going ahead to get one for us!) we started in to the park. Before long we realized it was not going to be easy to get to our site. The first mile in the park was up one of the steepest hills we’ve seen since Missouri (and at the end of 110 mile ride none the less!). After we reached the top of the hill we were happy to finally be at the camp site…we thought. After another few miles of winding our way through the state park we finally made it to the site and were happy to find that we had showers for the night! 

7/22/10
Mileage: 114
Average: 17.8

  Luckily we avoided the rain last night except for a few sprinkles here and there, but consequently the air was very humid to start the day today. We were excited about today because we would be making our way into Ohio via downtown Cincinnati and then would be hopping on a bike path for about the last 30 miles of the ride. Also we were planning on cutting off about 100 miles of the map that we were using. From Madison (which is a nice little town right on the Ohio River) we crossed back over the Ohio River into Kentucky – I told you we’d be back! From there, our route wound through rural northern Kentucky with views of the river from the south bank. By the time we reached the small town of Glencoe it was time to take a rest before going off the maps. We found a small convenience store where we picked up a couple of slushies to cool off and luckily the place had free Wi-Fi for Brittany to get on the internet for planning purposes. After getting talked at for about ten minutes by a local we decided to move on.

  From Glencoe to Cincinnati (about 35 miles) the route was determined by Google Maps and really consisted of staying on the same road for almost the entirety of the detour. The ride up to this point had been relatively flat with only a few short ups and downs, so we were surprised to find that those 35 miles included a significant amount of large ups and downs followed by a long steady climb before descending back down into the Ohio River Valley and the city of Cincinnati. Our maps indicated that there was a nice pedestrian/bicycle bridge that crossed the river into the heart of the city so we decided to give it a shot. The Purple People Bridge (yeah, we’re wondering about that name too…) turned out to be a nice safe route across the river that avoided the busy traffic of the major city. Now that we had officially made it into Cincinnati, Alex’s birthplace, Alex was excited to find a branch of Cincinnati’s staple fast food restaurant, Skyline Chili. The chili was just as tasty as Alex had remembered though not quite as filling as he had hoped and Colin was able to enjoy a vegetarian burrito. The remainder of the day’s ride included a quick tour of the residential section of the city before hopping on the Little Miami Scenic Bike Path. After spending the last 30 miles riding with traffic it was nice to relax on the beautiful shaded path. Just simply by coincidence we were crossing a road about a mile from our final destination and here comes Brittany making her way to pick us up. We decided it was a good enough sign and called it quits for the day. We headed just down the road to a private campground that specializes in canoe and rafting tours of the Little Miami River. The beautiful site was right along the river and provided us with showers and nice pavilion to pitch our tents under.

 7/23/10
Mileage: 110

  Luckily we’ve noticed that as we’ve been making our way north, slowly, but surely, the air is becoming cooler and less humid. The indicator of this is we’re now finding that it is in fact possible to get a little chilly at night when sleeping on top of our sleeping bags. The morning air quickly heats up however and we were happy that we would be spending the majority of today’s ride in the shade of the bike path. Now that we were outside of downtown Cincinnati the bike path was not nearly as crowded as it had been yesterday. The end of the Little Miami Scenic Bike Path brought us immediately to the Ohio to Erie bike path. We are very impressed by this set of trails as we have ridden a paved, traffic-less path for nearly 100 miles from Cincinnati all the way to Columbus. The Ohio to Erie trail becomes more patched together north of Columbus with roads and dirt trails, but as its name suggests it goes all the way to Erie, Pa. South of Columbus our route left the trail and we made our way around the west side of the city to Delaware State Park to camp for the night. The nature of bike paths is that they are flat, straight, and easy to ride, but with that comes monotony when riding for as many miles as we did. Thus, there is not much to say about today’s ride other than it was relatively uneventful. Delaware state park again provided us with showers (I know, we’re getting spoiled right?) and a nice place to rest up before making the final ride to Colin’s aunt and uncle’s house in Medina.

7/24/10
Mileage:  101
Average:  18.2

After a goods night sleep we were all ready to get going since tonight we were hoping to be at Colin’s Aunts and Uncles in Medina.  We guessed that it was going to be about 115 miles.  This isn’t that much more than what we have been doing for the past week.  At one point during the day we could tell there was a storm that we might have been biking into.  On top of a hill we stopped and Alex checked the weather on his Iphone.  While he was checking, the storm had pretty much passed.  But it was so cool to be on top of this hill while looking below over the town knowing it was pouring on everyone down there.  We pressed on and didn’t get rained on at all during the ride. 

With only about 1.5 miles to go and only about two streets away from our destination, Colin’s bike Hufflepuff decided to get a flat tire.  Even though it was horrible timing it answered one of Colin’s questions about if he should get a new tire or not.  Within a couple of minutes after changing the tube they were off again.  Colin made a comment that he loves how quickly he can change his tube now and before the trip he had actually never changed a tube before.  Once there, Colin’s Aunt, Uncle, Cousin Carson, and Brittany were all out back swimming in the pool and within seconds so were Colin and Alex.  It felt so good because it has just been so humid for the past couple of weeks and we just finished our last long ride for the trip.  The pool felt amazing!

Then we devoured homemade Mac and cheese and corn on the cob courtesy of Dan and Melissa.  After talking for awhile and entertaining Colin’s baby cousin Carson, who is three years old, we all dispersed to our rooms for a good nights sleep.  We are not sure what we are going to do while we are here, I think we would be happy with just hanging out and relaxing for the next two days. 

7/25/10-7/26/10

Rest Days In Medina, Ohio

We all slept in as much as we could.  The plan for Sunday was to pretty much just relax but we decided it would be fun to go watch a Baseball game in Cleveland; The Cleveland Indians versus Tampa Bay Rays.  About an hour before we were going to head up to Cleveland, Colin’s stomach started to not feel good.  He was hoping that it was just going to go away and he would be ready to go.  However, he ended up getting worse and sent Dan, Melissa, Carson, and Alex to watch the game.  Brittany drove to Oberlin, a short 30 minutes from Medina, to visit with her brother, his girlfriend, and her family.

After a day spent apart, we all gathered for a variety of pizzas prepared by Brittany and Colin.  Christopher and Erika joined us from Oberlin for the feast.  For dessert, strawberry shortcake thanks to Dan and Melissa!  Once again our bellies were full and we grew quite tired.  Spending a day in a house made us realize how much easier it is to get things done and how comfortable we actually have it while home. 

On Monday, we returned to our normal routine by taking part in the chores of the road life: cleaning the car, cleaning the bikes, checking the fluids in the car, cleaning out the cooler, working on the post, doing laundry, etc.  We did manage to take a few hours to return to Oberlin; this time Colin and Alex made the trip as well.  After visiting with Erika’s mom, Christopher and Erika gave us a tour of Oberlin.  Upon returning to Erika’s house, Christopher gave each of us a ride on his motorcycle.  After saying our goodbyes we returned to Medina where there was a delicious dinner waiting for us.  We spent the remaining time finishing our chores and getting ready to leave in the morning.  Once again, we have been lucky enough to have a place to call home for a few nights.  Thank you Dan and Melissa for everything you did for us; it means the world!   

Next stop, NEW YORK.  See you in one week!

In gratitude,

Alex, Colin, and Brittany

Riding in the rain!

Chester - Home of Popeye!

Beautiful water lilies by our campsite

Sporting their EZTribute shirts!

Two owls looking for dinner near our campsite at Clifty Falls

I guess it can't always be a beautiful sight...

An attractive bunch - Britt, Alex, Chris, Erika, Colin, Melissa, Carson, and Dan

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