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Cross Country Challenge 2007 Journal
(Page 5)
Indianapolis, IN to Erie, PA
(Country Mileage Tour)

current date and time 2008-05-13 | 17:39:39
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Number of Journal Entries online: 6
Day 38- Rest Day in Indianapolis, IN
Not to take away from how close a group we have become over the past few weeks, but it is kind of nice to check-in for a rest day and enjoy the opportunity to �do your own thing� for a few hours before falling back into our collective agenda. Being in the heart of downtown has allowed us to spread out and explore:

�A bunch of riders gave in to the lure of velocity as they hopped back on their bikes for a 12 mile ride back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Yesterday we saw owners of private automobiles paying $500 to drive four laps around the 2.5 mile track. Today our guys got to RIDE around the track for free! (Not sure exactly how this deal was negotiated) Although we had instructions to ride one lap only, at least a couple of riders snuck in an extra one. Cliff started out with everyone else, but was nowhere to be found at laps end. Perhaps he was in Gasoline Alley looking for some Gatorade��maybe he was in Pit Row looking for a lightening fast tire change.

�A van full headed out at 2PM to a local bike shop � Indy Cyclist � to pick up odds and ends

�Many began their day with a bit of leisurely bike cleaning. Support staff took the time to re-provision the vans and prepare for the �Country Mileage� leg of our journey.

�Brothers Tim & Jeff, along with visiting family (Mom, Dad, Jeff�s wife, and a dog and cat) spent the day out on the town

�Rocket, Arlene and Brian stepped out to lunch and met a flight attendant named Rose. She often flies in and out of Logan Airport and promised to keep an eye out for us as she flies over our route.

�Last night Jay B (he lives nearby, was with us from Salt Lake to Pueblo, and will be returning in Erie PA) dropped by to take our �International Riders� to his place for dinner so that they could experience some HOME BASED American Hospitality.

�Quite a few of us simply assumed the role of random tourist, ambling along the sidewalks. A favorite site was the Indianapolis, Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument. It is dedicated to the Indianan soldiers and sailors who died in the Civil and Spanish -American wars. For a moment you can imagine that you are in some European city as you stroll around this 284- foot high monument. Up at the top there's an observation tower from where you get a stunning view of the city.

Tomorrow its back to the Open Road with breakfast set for 0630h.

posted 2007-07-11 | 15:46:20 | article number: 1

Day 39 - Wednesday, July 11, 2007 Indianapolis IN to Richmond IN 72 miles
The lobby of the hotel featured three new faces as we packed up this morning. David L. and his daughters Alysen and Tracy have jumped in to ride the �Country Mileage� leg of the challenge. Too bad they hadn�t joined up with us earlier as they seemed to bring positive karma as we closed out the state of Indiana: today�s ride was a comfortable 72 miles, we had tailwinds the entire day, and the first 68 miles was a straight shot on route 40 east that didn�t require much navigation. For much of the day our route followed pavement markings for �RAIN� � the Ride Across Indiana � which will be held in a week or so.

En route to the only SAG stop of the day, at mile 38 by a firehouse in Dunreith, our morning was made complete by seeing Arlene back on her bike. Back in Missouri her camera dropped into her spokes and caused a bit of a tumble. She took things day by day, endured some long hours riding in the van, but has returned triumphant. This lady is no quitter! To celebrate her return, she was presented with a new camera at route rap. Brian and Greg came up with the idea and a bunch of riders contributed to the cause.

Just a few miles before the stop, our route passed through Knightstown. In 1985, Knightstown�s old high school gymnasium became the home to the Hickory Huskers in the movie �Hoosiers.� You can shoot a basket from the spot where Jimmy made the game winner as time expired, walk through the locker room where Coach Norman Dale retreated after being tossed from the game, or sit in the stands and relive the magic of what Sports Illustrated and ESPN called the greatest sports movie of all time. The film wasn�t simply about Hickory High School or a team winning or losing. At its core, it was about positive values, friendships, family and the strength of a community. The gym provided the perfect setting. As a result of this film, the old Knightstown gymnasium will forever be known as the Hoosier Gym.

By the time we rolled into Cambridge City, it seemed to be the right time for most riders to grab a bite of lunch. While in town we met up with a collection of fund-raising softball players from a girls team that is heading off to a national tournament. We told them stories, they told us stories, and someone managed to get a group shot of the lot of us. Best of luck ladies, our hopes are with you.

Over lunch Cliff continued to entertain with details on how he got separated from the group as he rode around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway yesterday. �I was tucked on my bars, head down, trying to get to 30mph. When I looked up the only thing I saw was a gruff security guard shouting at me to GET OFF THE TRACK NOW! as he pointed me the closest exit. I knew where I was�.I just didn�t know where you guys were. Security guy was probably picking on me �cause I was going the fastest!�

The high-spirited tone of the day continued as we made our way into Richmond, and extended into the evening meal at Ryan�s Steakhouse. A while back Gerard�s silent companion � a gnome that drives along with him in the van, and rides along with him on his Santana � went missing. Ransom notes began to appear and photos of the gnome in peril were posted along the route. A few days later Gerard drove up behind Howie and caught him red-handed taking a picture of his hostage. Tonight at dinner Gerard snuck up behind Howie again; this time with a bowl of whipped cream. Bon Appetite Howie! Revenge is indeed a dish best served whipped!

We closed out the evening singing �Happy Birthday� to Brian, accompanied by the Ryan�s Steakhouse Chorus. We were honored to be a surrogate for your family and friends back in England. Turning 40 after a day riding on route 40. Cool. Ride on brother, ride-on.

posted 2007-07-12 | 22:44:51 | article number: 2

Day 40 - Thursday July 12, 2007 Richmond In to Marysville OH 105 miles
The ABB Catalog has named this leg of our crossing �The Country Mileage Tour� and that would pretty much describe what we were presented with today. Having a �Bridge Out� on our route boosted our odometers to 114 miles as we pedaled back country roads, with lots of turns, very few cars, and a gentle tailwind helping us along. Arm warmers and jackets were not uncommon as we started out. It soon warmed up a bit � it never got hot though � and ended up feeling like a spring day. They kept it quiet, but Tracy & Alyson were spinning towards their first ever 100+ mile day; talk about ideal conditions.

Just before mile three we crossed the state line into Ohio, nicknamed the Buckeye State due to the prevalence of Buckeye trees within its borders. This tree grows especially well along rivers, streams and floodplains, and got its name because its nuts resemble the shape and color of a deer's eye. The state motto -�With God All Things Are Possible� may well have been cited by some of this group on some of our more challenging days!
The first SAG stop of the day was set up at mile 41. The rural nature of today�s route didn�t feature a lot of services, so the presence of a Port-A-Potty made this the perfect location!

Rolling into the community of Saint Paris at mile 67 we happened across a newly opened restaurant that made an appropriate lunch spot. It turns out that it was owned and operated by the Mayor of the town and his family. Only a week old, they had already built a reputation for home-made chocolate and home-made fudge. Some of us held off until desert, others sampled the fudge prior to the main course. Chit-chatting with the non-riding patrons (the place was busy) we answered all the usual questions � �where are you from?, where are you going?, how many miles a day do you go?, doesn�t your butt get sore?�. Even after all this time we take enormous pride in saying �We are riding across the country�

Seven miles further, at the second SAG stop, we learned that a bridge was out up ahead. By the time most riders had arrived Andy had spoken to a couple of construction workers about a bike appropriate detour and had chalked out the turns at each juncture of the modified route. All said and done this tacked on close to 10 bonus miles. Once we were back on route, we were able to return to watching the countryside whiz by. Corn fields and soybeans, barns and farm houses, and dogs that were fenced in or on a leash helped us pass the final 30 miles into Marysville.

The tranquility of Cliff�s day came to an abrupt halt around mile 90 when his rear derailleur broke away from his frame and lodged between a couple of rear spokes. Cliff was unscathed but his frame was bent so badly that he had to have it put down. Making an unscheduled stop at Performance Bikes he and Gerard located a new frame, and a new derailleur, then swapped over the rest of the old components. Perhaps the old frame sustained a stress crack from Cliff�s high speed pass back on the Indy 500 track! Maybe we should start calling him Mario Andretti.

Dinner was at Bob Evan�s with the Slow Cooked Pork Loin being a popular choice. When it seemed to be taking a little longer than expected for the meals to arrive, the tables erupted in laughter when someone remarked �I didn�t think they would wait for us to order before they even STARTED the slow cooker!�

posted 2007-07-13 | 09:17:13 | article number: 3

Day 41 Friday July 13, 2007 Marysville OH to Wooster OH 104 miles
Who says Friday the 13th is unlucky? We started out with cool temperatures but before long the temperature climbed a few degrees and we enjoyed another day of ideal riding conditions. Following a path of quiet country roads we were hanging out by the van, at a SAG stop next to a church in Marengo OH (mile 33) in no time at all.

Frederictown at mile 52 seemed to have won the Riders� Choice award for the most popular lunch stop today, with a couple of restaurants and a grocery store right on the route. Pausing for a moment, Tom and Mike recalled how far they had come since their early training days for this ride. Back then they would ride 25 or 30 miles in a day and return home, or back to their bike shop, dead tired but proud of their effort. Today they stood in rural Ohio, half-way through back to back 100+ mile days, full of vim and vigor, and ready for more. Well done indeed.

Another new rider � Greg � joined us enroute today. He didn�t arrive by car, or bus, or plane, or train. He arrived in style, on his bicycle, carrying his luggage in panniers. Leaving his bags and rack in the SAG van he jumped in to today�s route without delay. Greg has ridden with ABB on a couple of prior occasions and will be able to stay with us as far as Syracuse NY.

The second SAG stop was at a park, next to the Charles River Mill at mile 75. Gerard had set up a no-stakes Poker Run earlier in the day and had selected the SAG as the second card stop. Those who chose to participate picked up a playing card at load this morning, at the mile 33 SAG, here at mile 75, then at route rap, and finally at dinner. Tomorrow each player�s cards will be revealed, with the best poker hand winning. Prizes have yet to be disclosed.

In the miles before the dam at the Charles River Mill, the road began to get a little less flat, culminating in three steep climbs that some described as walls. Fortunately there were picnic tables at the park that served as cots for those who needed a moment to recover. When they asked what type of terrain lay ahead they discovered that as far as climbs go, there were �more to come�. Hearing this a lot of riders topped up their tanks � water and food and a little soft serve ice cream from a nearby dairy � before heading on.

The final 30 miles were tough but manageable, and by days end we had all made it to Wooster � headquarters for �Rubbermaid� products. Over on Market Street there is a 3 storey �Everything Rubbermaid� store where the entire product line is on display and available for purchase.

posted 2007-07-14 | 06:42:22 | article number: 4

Day 42- Saturday, July 14, 2007 Wooster, OH to Youngstown, OH 91 miles
Ten days ago we were observing our National Holiday. Today its Rob�rts turn to celebrate Bastille Day in honor of his native France. Had we only been thinking ahead we would have saved some of the Fourth of July cookies for today � red, white, and blue; bleu, blanc, et rouge � la meme chose!

Wisconsin calls itself the Dairy State, but considering the Dairy Farm we passed around mile 5, Ohio may be a close second. This place was huge with one central milking parlor and a series of other buildings, all very business like in appearance. Definitely not Old McDonald�s farm. The theme of well turned out properties continued as we made our way down Coal Bank Road. It seemed just about every house featured well-groomed gardens or ornamental statues. Neighborhood pride was also on display as we rolled into the community of Canal Fulton as they were setting up the Canal-Fulton Days Parade. To stake-out a premium vantage point a lot of people set out lawn chairs and blankets hours ahead of time. Riders who showed up later on were in time for donuts as a street fair was in motion by late morning.

Our first SAG stop was at mile 35, outside of TJ�s Bar & Grill. TJ knew all about our cross country ride, so took no offence when no one bothered to drop in for a cold one. Somewhere in the ensuing 35miles Wayne must have found somewhere to do a little grocery shopping in order to supplement the bill of fare at the second SAG stop at mile 72. Everyone who sampled the maple candies and Gouda cheese extended their thanks.

Eight miles out from the hotel we found ourselves on a newly paved bike path that was smooth, fast, and well marked. Maybe some day there will be a path like this from coast to coast. For the final two miles of the day we were back on the road. As we approached Interstate 80 we could see the Best Western sign welcoming us into Youngstown. Good thing there were lots of other hotel around, because once we checked in the �No Vacancy� sign was turned on. Customers being turned away at the front desk couldn�t quite figure it out. The hotel was full, but the parking lot was empty. Hmmmmmmm�..

posted 2007-07-16 | 16:45:45 | article number: 5

Day 43- Sunday, July 15, 2007 Youngstown, OH to Erie, PA 96 miles
Based on the weather alone, today could have been counted in the �Exceptional� category. We started at 68F and ended at 74F; the humidity that can often make a summer�s day in this part of the country horrendous was nowhere to be found; and the isolated thundershowers that were forecast were a no-show. In addition to the weather, everything else seemed to be in sync.

It was a quiet Sunday morning as we pulled out of the Perkins parking lot after breakfast. There were no cars, a lot of traffic lights had been put in to flashing amber mode, parking lots in malls were empty, and runners were out for their weekly long runs. We were a suitable addition to this portrait of silence as we picked up our cadence on the way out of town. The only noise we could hear was a custodian out in front of a church, using a leaf blower to dust off the steps. It brought back images of the Sundays of old when that day of the week truly was a �common pause� day. Were we all at home, we may well have been going out on our respective Sunday club rides. The beauty of THIS Sunday was the fact that none of us were encumbered by the responsibilities of day-to-day life that can often squeeze a ride off of the Sunday agenda.

The first SAG stop was just outside of The Crossroads Family Restaurant. Some dropped in for a slice of pie and a cup of coffee, while others stayed outside and shot the breeze. At that particular time some heavy looking black clouds were building to the west, and the temperature took a bit of a dip. The clouds never did produce any rain for us, but they did serve as a �SAG stop catalyst� as riders decided to venture forth while the venturing was good.

We took a left shortly after the stop and found ourselves on a long stretch of straight out country road. Free of having to watch for the next turn, we could rubber neck all we wanted as we took in this particular 23 mile cross section of America. We saw garage sales being set up, we saw well manicured yards with brightly colored homes, and we saw a covered bridge on a cross road to our right. We met up with members of the Amish Community getting to where they were going in horse drawn buggies, and nodded silently to each other as we passed. Herb spotted a Motocross event to his left, and from behind, it looked like he was about to drop in for a lap or two as he edged across the pavement when he neared the entrance.

Marking the end of this stretch was a hard uphill right hand turn that dropped us at the top of a ridge. A few miles on we came across The Tarsitano Winery - a sure sign that we were approaching the moderating climatic effects of the Great Lakes � just before the second SAG stop at mile 69.

This stop at �The White Turkey Drive � In� in Conneaut OH is like no other we have been to. The whole scene is right out of the 1950s. The centerpiece is an open air root beer stand complete with barstools, counter top juke boxes, polite young ladies taking orders, and a menu that included root beer on draft, ice cream floats, turkey sandwiches, fries, and burgers. A couple of our European riders sampled root beer for the first time and issued a two thumbs up verdict. Playing in the background were hits by Patsy Cline, Elvis Presley, and the Beach Boys. A fitting way to celebrate summer.

One short mile further on we found ourselves being welcomed into The State of Pennsylvania. Every state has a list of significant events that have occurred there. The two that were listed at this state line were extra-significant; home of the Declaration of Independence, and Home of the Constitution of the United States of America.

The remaining twenty-some miles into Erie routed us along the Purple Heart Highway. There weren�t any visible tributes along the road, but the name alone made many riders realize how fortunate we are to be in good health and able to ride. As close as we were to Lake Erie, we still hadn�t seen it. However, the increasing prevalence of bait and tackle shops combined with meeting a steady stream of fishing boats reminded us of our proximity. Once we reached the airport we took the left fork in the road and effortlessly coasted down a bike route into the downtown area.

Arriving at the hotel, odometers were reading just shy of 100 miles. To make it an �Official� century a few riders rode down to the lake before parking their bikes for the evening.

During dinner Michelle took a moment to bid a heart-felt farewell to David, Tracy, and Alyson. They have only been with us since Indianapolis but they became an integral part of the group within hours of their arrival. Their enthusiasm was contagious and they will be missed. They are already making plans to get together again next summer for another installment of the Cross Country Challenge.

posted 2007-07-16 | 16:55:05 | article number: 6

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