Northern Tier 2010

August 25, 2010

The Longest Day

Filed under: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Section 09 — Henry Scott @ 4:00 pm

I didn’t need good wind today — I had come to terms with splitting the 135 miles from Cleveland to North East into two days, but I needed perfect conditions to make it in one day, and that’s what I got.

I felt terrible for the first twenty miles this morning: my legs were incredibly tight, I worried that my congestion was the beginning of a cold rather than just allergies, and the rough pavement and urban riding of Greater Cleveland were getting the better of me.

In addition to a shower, a place to stay, and an insider’s guide to Cleveland dining for a hungry cyclist, Drew provided breakfast as well. He offered to make eggs, but I didn’t have much of an appetite and just had cereal and a bagel. I took the lack of interest in food as another sign that a cold was coming.

Despite still not being hungry, I stopped for a second breakfast in Willowick because I knew I needed the calories. I ordered what has become my usual: eggs and pancakes. Sitting near the front window I could see a flaccid flag on the street, but as I slowly chewed the first few bites it started to sway slightly. Before long the flapping had a decided preference toward the east, and it frequently revealed all thirteen stripes and fifty stars.

Suddenly my interest in breakfast became stronger, and the food tasted better with each bite. I was still a bit slow once back on the bike, but I figured the breeze would at least make it easy to get to my planned campsite in North Kingsville, where I camped in 2006. But, in addition to the tailwind, the road improved dramatically around Eastlake, and I could finally get into a smooth riding rhythm.

I don’t know what to make of the sudden change in how my body felt. The cold symptoms disappeared, and although still tight, my legs stopped complaining. Were the congestion, aches and lack of appetite just psychosomatic? I suppose I’ll find out tomorrow, but by early afternoon, I knew I was going to make North East, and I did.

I kept my stops short to ensure a pre-dark arrival, but I took time to revisit my favorite sights from 2006: views high above the Grand River east of Painesville; the incredibly active coal-transfer operation in Ashtabula, where U.S. coal is moved from rail cars to barges destined for Canada; and Sheldon Calvary Camp west of Conneaut — where I was a camper in my youth.

I felt stronger and stronger throughout the day (I suspect the wind continued to pick up), and I felt great for the final 50 miles from Conneaut, easily making it before dark. As I left Erie I caught up to three road cyclists out for a casual ride and took advantage of their draft. Before long we started talking, and two of them turned out to be recent Notre Dame grads now working as engineers at G.E.

My escorts turned back for Erie right at the top of a long hill leading down to Sixteen Mile Creek and my family’s home — gravity provided the final assistance to facilitate my longest day of this tour. As a side note, I’m confident that this will indeed remain the longest day — I was anxious to reach both South Bend and North East, but now I plan to go back to shorter riding days.

I received a very warm greeting from my parents and look forward to relaxing and visiting until Saturday, but I joked that since there was still some daylight I’d continue into New York. Of course I was kidding, but my legs were up for it.



  1. Enjoy your visit with your parents!
    Thanks for putting up with the chaos of three children during your time in South Bend. We all enjoyed seeing you!

    Comment by Kim Hock — August 26, 2010 @ 11:08 pm

  2. Nice that you made it all the way to North East. Enjoy!

    Comment by monika — August 27, 2010 @ 1:10 am

  3. Have a great time with your family this weekend.

    Comment by Lauren — August 27, 2010 @ 6:05 am

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