September 6, 2016 § 2 Comments
Evan finished 11 straight weeks of work at Camp Belknap in New Hampshire, so he was physically and mentally exhausted. What better way to recover than an immediate road trip to New York for a full day’s ride?
We decided to go for this ride so we could get positioned on the Erie Canal bike path and know what conditions we’ll face as we go towards Albany in 2017. If our next segment looks like what we faced here, we’ll have an excellent time.
The first half of the day was spent at Trailside Bicycles, where we had to replace a broken tube. Once we got rolling we hardly stopped all day, except a quick lunch in Spenceport where we met a pair of bikers crossing the Northern Tier from east to west. The trail was just a few feet off the canal, so we were blessed with wonderful views and flat terrain. Our only hill of the day was a jaunt through Rochester. We rolled up to RV&E Bike and Skate in Fairport, where we’ll store the bike until 2017.
Can’t wait to get going again! We’re the luckiest guys in the world.
June 9, 2016 § 1 Comment
That’s a wrap for this trip!
Our very long day put us ahead of schedule, and we had a much shorter route to reach the spot where we’re storing the bike. Another perfect day! The wind was at our backs all day, we never got too warm or too cold, and our entire route had ample space for us to pedal safely. We left Pennsylvania pretty quickly, lunched in Barcelona to prep for my semester in Spain next spring, then made our way to the outskirts of Buffalo. We don’t think we’ll ever bike in the city proper – urban biking is tricky and it would be more direct to head straight east from about where we are now.
Both of us feel great, aside from the usual bike saddle pains. Tomorrow we’re looking forward to a quick tour by car of Buffalo and Niagra, with a jaunt into Canada for Niagra Falls and maybe my very first adult beverage.
In keeping with the “America” part of “Me, My Dad, and America,” I kept an eye on the nation as we traveled past it this week.
- Ohio wins the Most Patriotic State award – we couldn’t go more than a few miles without seeing a home covered in American flags.
- Upstate New Yorkers love their guns and hate Governor Cuomo for trying to take them away.
- 6 Trump signs, plus a moving truck with all sides just covered in his name.
- 3 Hillary signs.
- 3 Bernie signs, including two still up after Hillary clinched the nomination. Stay hopeful, you dirty hippy millennial socialists.
A million thanks to Susan at Dan’s Moving and Storage in Dunkirk for her great generosity! Greater Buffalo doesn’t have a bike shop big enough to store the bike for us so we had no idea what to do with it, until Susan volunteered some space in her warehouse. Yet another excellent person we encountered along the way.
These four days of our tour have been four of the best we’ve had – strong tailwinds the whole way, gorgeous views, and great conversations on and off the bike. Dad and I learn more and more about each other every time we fly west to bike east, and we’re so privileged to have this opportunity. There are only so many more days ahead of us before we complete what we started over a decade ago, and we plan to make the most of each of them.
Erie Canal, you’re next! See you soon.
We spent a half hour at the Mazza Winery for Dad to sample the offerings of the Erie Wine Country. Unsurprisingly, he liked it.
June 8, 2016 § 1 Comment
💨 💨 💨
85 miles, and neither of us hates the other! A long but rewarding day for the Sayles boys. A strong wind out of the northwest pushed us along the lake and kept our spirits high. The first half of the day sped by quickly because we were both pretty focused on keeping track of some pretty complicated directions through the lakefront towns. After refilling our tires at a bike shop in Ashtabula, however, we hardly made a turn for the rest of the day. We had a bland lunch at a Bob Evans full of old people, then decided that even through we’d already covered about the same distance as yesterday we felt ready to double it and get into Erie, PA. A great decision! Today’s ride was one of the best of our entire journey, with perfect riding weather, a state border crossing, and a variety of scenery from farms and forests to great homes and a Great Lake. Dad was excited by the huge vineyards we saw, and embarrassed by the animal noises I made whenever we passed livestock. I loved the photogenic quaintness of the townships we passed through, but almost stood up and left when Dad kept pulling out his corny jokes for the servers at dinner. You give some, you get some.
It was stunning to both of us when we realized that we’d entered our first state with an Atlantic coast. Suddenly the end feels much closer, and that’s pretty bittersweet. Luckily we’ve still got a few more rides, a few more states, and a few hundred miles before we wrap up. Here’s to what lies ahead!
June 7, 2016 § 2 Comments
No, not Mentor-on-the-Lake. Just Mentor.
A much shorter day than yesterday – we only traveled about 40 miles in total. (Dad prefers that I use terms besides “ride” to describe our ride, since we aren’t sitting idly. Our “adventure,” our “travels,” whatever.)
We started our day with a ride (an actual ride, in a pickup truck) up the road to Cleveland – our map had us on Route 6, which turned out to be way too busy and in really terrible condition, so we elected to skip it. After a delicious breakfast and a quick stop in Joy Machines Bike Shop, we took Dad’s first Uber to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was awesome – we spent way too long in there learning about the history and performers of the music which led our whole country to burn our morals and worship Satan. Amazing how much fear there was about cultural progress in America! Thank goodness that kind of fear-mongering will never ever happen again.
Around 2:30, we left the museum to continue east. Urban biking is much more stressful when on a 12-foot machine that can barely turn! Luckily we got out of downtown quickly, and connected with a nice lakefront bike trail for a few miles. Gorgeous! We wound our way through the suburbs for the remainder of the day, coming to a stop at a Hampton Inn in Mentor. It was a trek of less than 50 miles, but we still rewarded ourselves with Dairy Queen once we had settled in. Then, we punished ourselves with the latest X-Men movie.
Looking back on the day, it stands in such stark contrast to our rides out west. South Dakota was the same scene every day, with no real changes in the landscape or the towns we passed through. Here, the only landscapes we saw were designed by landscapers, and all the towns were remarkably diverse. On the lake side of I-90 we saw enormous, Gatsby-esque homes where the rich spend their summers, and across the highway we biked through a few pretty rough neighborhoods where some homes had holes in their roofs and boards for windows. The disparity between the two sides of town was pretty shocking.
Special thanks to Joe and Jonathan, who gave us that lift to Cleveland. And to the kind sould at Joy Machines and the Hampton who helped us store our beast of a bike. Three more days to Buffalo!
At the Hall of Fame. I forgot my razor.
Our first close encounter with the lake!
When we checked into the hotel in Mentor, Dad was very excited to see the bridge we crossed as we left downtown.
June 6, 2016 § 4 Comments
*Actually Elmore. Thanks, Dad.
A long first day for the 2016 ride! Fremont Cycle, the shop where we stored the bike, has a second location. Dad thought it was in Clyde, which is to the east. Thinking we could get a five-mile head start on the ride, he had the bike transferred to the second shop. Today we learned that shop is actually in Elmore, 20 miles to the west (the wrong way). Oh well!
We wound up on a great bike path most of the way back to Fremont, and the weather was very nice. Even though we covered a lot of road we already biked last summer, it was really enjoyable! An hour and a half into our ride, once we’d passed 2015’s ending location, the wind picked up behind us and pushed us most of the rest of the 50 miles we needed to go. Ohio is flat as ever, so the ride was rarely challenging.
We finished in Lorain, a suburb of Cleveland, and we’re staying at The Beacon B&B. It’s charming, and the bed I’m blogging from is incredibly comfortable. Strong recommend.
Today was our first sighting of Lake Erie! It’ll be off our left shoulders for much of the week as we head towards Buffalo. Five days, four nights and three states for two guys on one bike.
The Northcoast Inland Trail brought us back to Fremont.
Our map led us to this closed road. We asked a foreman if we could proceed, and he told us it was closed to protect us from falling concrete. Dad patted his helmet and we rode on anyway.
Thunderstorms rolled through at dinner, but the sun set below the clouds across the lake. Red light was spilling everywhere! I wish I’d brought a better camera to capture it.
September 2, 2015 § 7 Comments
Happy surprise! We found a few days to ride before Evan went back to school. We took the opportunity without a second thought because we needed to position ourselves to be able to get through Cleveland for our next ride. So, two days after Evan got out of his 10-week job at Camp Belknap, we were Ohio-bound. Go Buckeyes!
We meet amazing people every day we’re on the road. Our first lucky encounter of this trip happened before we even saw the bike: in fact, it was because of Dan that we saw the bike at all. Dad had arranged for a cab company to take us from Fremont, our destination for this ride, to the Hampton Inn in Defiance. For some reason, these plans fell through. Dan is the owner of Fremont Cycle and Fitness and he volunteered to take us an hour or so west, keeping him away from home until well after 11:00pm. We can’t thank him enough!
Our first day started at the same Hampton Inn we used to end our May ride. We picked up the bike from R Bike Shop and pedaled away. Dad, being the independent soul he is, tried to steer the bike off the map we use. However, Master Navigator Evan saved the day with his gentle and always-accurate guidance. Despite his perfect directions, we did have to pass through Florida (, OH) to stay on track. Lunch was in the predominately German town of Napoleon (go Wildcats!) at Season’s Eatings, a charming vegetarian local-food cafe with great food and a great owner. Eat local: good for the taste buds, body, and local economy! Robin, the owner, told tales of good ice cream in a town not far away. We were tempted, and Rita’s Dairy Bar called to us all the way from Grand Rapids (, OH). A root beer float and a sundae fueled us past a massive Campbell’s Soup factory (thank goodness we weren’t hungry anymore—it smelled of Chicken Noodle Soup for miles around) and into Bowling Green (go Bobcats!). Our lodging for the evening was another Hampton Inn, just south of Bowling Green State University (go Falcons!). One employee, Erik, was incredibly friendly and helpful from the moment we walked in. We meet such amazing people!
Day 2 was considerably shorter. We put about ten miles in before a storm rolled in, filling the fields with rain and the air with thunder. We hid inside a grocery store in Pemberville until most of it had passed, then pedaled on to Gibsonburg (go Golden Bears!) for lunch. It was sunny by the time we finished our meal, and we were set to make the last push to Fremont. Despite a quick farm stand stop for some Arnold Palmers, we made it into Fremont Cycle and Fitness with time to spare. The bike will stay under Dan’s care until we come back next time. Fremont is a great town, and we look forward to seeing it soon. Until next time, go Little Giants!
We rented a lime green Fiesta and parked it in front of Fremont Cycle. Dan says he’ll miss seeing it out his window.
How is it that biking 50 miles is exhausting, but we can make it to Florida with no problem?
The Campbell’s factory, featuring the largest soup can on Earth.
Our view from Rita’s Dairy Bar in Grand Rapids.
Most of the towns we passed through looked like this square in Gibsonburg. They must have bustled with activity at some point!
May 21, 2015 § 3 Comments
We made it to Buckeye country!
Today was an excellent way to end our three-day ride. After two long days, a forty-mile segment with the wind generally at our backs was pretty much a cakewalk. We started just east of Fort Wayne thanks to a lift arranged by Dad’s friend Denis Clifford and Tim and Jeff Burns. It was cold for most of the morning, but we reached a balmy sixty degrees by noon. We reached our first stop, the Ohio boader, very quickly. From then on we hardly saw a hill! One of the counties we passed through had a one-foot altitude gain from corner to corner. One foot. After a great lunch at Past Time Cafe in Paulding, we took one road all the way to Defiance, where we stored the bike in R Bike Shop until our next ride. We’re in a great position to finish by the time I’m out of college, and hopes are very high about the remaining few states we have to cross.
These three days were wonderful, as always. We learned lessons – bring warmer clothes than one would expect to need, buy mold-resistant water bottles, and just because someone has lived somewhere for a lifetime does not mean their directions will be correct. We crossed into our final time zone, another new state, and met so many great locals. Everywhere we stopped, people were friendly and genuinely interested in our journey together. They say it’s amazing that Dad and I are doing this, and we certainly agree. When it’s just the two of us riding through empty fields, those are moments that very few other people will ever share. The unique bonding experiences that we have are so special, and we both know how lucky we are to have them. It’s great to know that throughout all the changes in my life – moving to Iowa, going to Tufts – there’s still this ride, this fantastic project that we’re working on together. That’s what’s amazing to me.
Until next time, may the roads be smooth and the wind always at your back. See you all soon! Be sure to subscribe with your email address if you haven’t already so you can get an update when we continue.
We were chased by at least one farm dog every day this trip.
Our sincerest thanks to Denis and the crews at Superior Sales and Service and R Bike Shop for making this trip possible. We really couldn’t have done it without you!