Northern Tier 2010

August 23, 2010

Terra Cognita

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

I’m not superstitious. That said, I wish I didn’t brag about the good winds I’ve enjoyed recently in yesterday’s post. Perhaps even worse was describing the directional fluctuations as breathing because this morning’s north wind gradually picked up an easterly component and gained strength all day. Further, I foolishly checked the forecast, and the wind should continue to get worse for the next couple of days. Optimistically, I’m hoping Mother Nature is taking one last deep breath so I can sail through New England when she exhales again.

If I can tough out a long day tomorrow I’ll make it to Cleveland, where I’ve already made arrangements for a place to stay, right on the route, through Warm Showers. I haven’t used the service before, but it is a database of people who agree to be listed as hosts for touring cyclists. As far as I know, there aren’t any camping options in the Cleveland area, so I decided to give it a shot. The first host I contacted is available so hopefully I’ll make it.

If I do make Cleveland, it will put me within a very long day’s ride of North East, PA. North East has been a family gathering place since before I was born, so I’m looking forward to get there and visit with my parents, a niece and a nephew. I hope the frequent indoor accommodations I’ve been getting recently haven’t spoiled me for the rest of the trip.

I’ve been riding high daily miles since leaving South Bend both because I’m anxious to reach North East and because I rode the South Bend – North East section of the Northern Tier in 2006. It is fun to see which roads and towns are familiar and which I don’t remember well; I’ve been surprised to see how much is in the latter category.

For tonight I’m camped in a county park just outside of Gibsonburg, OH. Wish me luck for an early start tomorrow so I have time to enjoy Cleveland.


August 22, 2010

On the Road Again

Filed under: Indiana, Section 08 — Henry Scott @ 8:00 pm

After several days of working, visiting and recovering in South Bend, I’m back on the road. Jennifer is a wonderful cook, and with her mother, sister, two nieces and a baby nephew in the house, she went into high gear, and there was a nearly constant stream of delicious meals flowing from the kitchen. I returned to South Bend about ten pounds lighter than when I left in June, but I think I put most of that back on during my visit.

My Uncle George cautioned me about getting too comfortable, and not wanting to start again, by referencing the honey-sweet lotus fruit eaters in Homer’s Odyssey — a very real risk given the comforts and easy calories of home. But, as much as I enjoyed being in South Bend, and look forward to returning for good, I didn’t feel at all vulnerable to staying put: proceeding to Maine is simply a matter of fact. Plus, several friends promised bodily harm if I didn’t get going in a timely manner.

Today I rode to Monroeville, IN and am back on the Northern Tier route; indeed, Monroeville is the connecting town between Sections 8 and 9. I used Google Maps and a gazetteer to choose a route, and the combination worked very well. The only tricky portion was around Ft. Wayne, but Google correctly pointed me to the Rivergreenway, and much of the ride in Ft Wayne was on multi-use paths following the St. Mary’s River.

The days of facing a south wind as I descended through Minnesota and Iowa now feel like a wind up, or perhaps an inhalation, and I continue to benefit from good winds as Mother Nature exhales and blows me through the corn and soybeans of Illinois and Indiana. I started early this morning thinking it would be a long day, but I completed the ride under sunny skies a little after 3:00 p.m.

Normally I’d push on, but Monroeville is another special destination for touring cyclists: ten minutes after arriving in Monroeville and calling a number provided on my Adventure Cycling maps, Warren Fluttrow met me downtown and led me to the Community Building in the city park. He let me into the large, air-conditioned common area and pointed me to the shower, laundry facilities and refrigerators. All of this has been provided, free of charge, to cross-country cyclists since 1976. Warren is shown in the photo holding Monroeville’s “Trail Angel” award bestowed by Adventure Cycling in 2005.

Monroeville has provided a very nice transition to life back on the road.

August 19, 2010

Extended Layover

Filed under: Indiana — Henry Scott @ 12:08 pm

Brief update: I’m going to stay in South Bend until Sunday, August 22nd. I have two pressing work-related issues to tackle, but this will also afford a better visit with family and provide more time to rest and tune up the bike.

August 16, 2010

The Last Hour Is Lost

Filed under: Illinois, Indiana, Section 08 — Henry Scott @ 5:00 pm

I didn’t feel it happen, nor did I see a sign along my rural route to let me know it occurred, but at some point today I passed back into the Eastern Time Zone and lost the last of three hours I gained when Jennifer and I flew to Seattle back in June.

The ride from Iroquois to South Bend was excellent. Yesterday I figured it was too far, but a great night’s sleep coupled with a dramatically lowered heat index and good winds made it a surprisingly easy 124 miles. Certainly the motivation to get home to Jennifer didn’t hurt, either.

I followed the Northern Tier as far as Rensselaer, and then I used maps at the public library to plot a route the rest of the way. This worked out very well, except for several unexpected sections of unpaved roads. That said, none were too bad, and the small county road gamble paid off in that many sections took me through winding tunnels of dense corn fields with essentially no traffic.

It is good to be home, and it will be fun to catch up with friends and family for a couple of days. My current plan is start heading east again early on Thursday for the final push to Maine. Anyone interested in grabbing a pint at Fiddler’s Hearth?

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