Cleveland to Mentor, Ohio

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!


Quick study of the map at lunch.


We’ve never dealt with so much traffic!


When we checked into the hotel in Mentor, Dad was very excited to see the bridge we crossed as we left downtown.


Fremont* to Lorain, OH

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. 

Two Days in Ohio: A Me, My Dad, and America Special Presentation

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!

Fort Wayne to Defiance, Ohio

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.

  Jeff Burns, our driver this morning, was a total delight to have met. Thanks for the lift!

 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!

Peru to Fort Wayne

May 20, 2015 § 2 Comments

My sincerest apologies. I lied to you all yesterday. Today was the longest ride of our three-day trip.

69.5 miles into the wind today! We got an earlier start because we wanted to avoid a band of rain that would arrive by early evening. It was a bit colder today, but once we got moving it didn’t matter much. Powered by omelets from Peru and oatmeal from Bob Evans, we powered across rivers and through state forests to try to beat the storm. The wind was never with us, and that made everything just a bit harder. We passed signs mocking us with warnings—”SPEED LIMIT 50?” As if. The ride was slow and the weather bleak, but after a great deal of effort and a great many wrong turns, we made it to the world-renowned Hampton Inn by Fort Wayne International Airport. Huzzah!

We’ve been noticing a lot of nature along the route despite the absence of the sun. Deer, squirrels, and a huge variety of birds abound, as well as vibrant purple, white, and yellow flowers. Except for the farm fields awaiting this year’s crop, everything is alive and well!

It’s late and there’s another day of riding ahead tomorrow, so I must save my planned ruminating and philosophizing for a later time. See you from Defiance!

  Neither of us drinks much soda, but we lean the bike against vending machines all the time. Draw whatever humor or irony you can from knowing that and give me credit for your conclusions.


 We just missed having to wait on two freight trains over the course of the day.


 The start of a fairly significant hill leading up into the Salamonie State Forest.


 The Salamonie State Forest. It’s easy to forget about the farmland surrounding this place!

   It’s been a while since we crossed a dam. Seeing one of these from afar or from a car doing sixty doesn’t lend the same feeling of magnitude we feel when we cross – it’s truly amazing how humans have been able to tame great wild forces like rivers.

   The color palate of this year’s ride is pretty much entirely composed of earth tones.

Rensselaer to Peru

May 19, 2015 § 5 Comments

And we’re off again! This leg of our journey is shorter than most, with only three days of riding. However, they’re pretty long days; we expect to stop in Defiance, Ohio on Thursday. We’ve never biked so early in the year, so hopes are high that we’ll experience something new.

Today was our longest ride, on the order of sixty miles. Yesterday, as we arrived in Indiana, it was about eighty degrees, but the temperature never exceeded fifty today. Dad and I biked in long sleeves under overcast skies through countless farms. Winter ended not long ago in the Midwest, so the day smelled of freshly tilled soil as farmers began to plant the first soybean crop of the year. This part of Indiana is almost as flat as our ride last summer, with the addition of gentle slopes into and out of riverbeds. Despite the cloudiness our ride was still picturesque. Much of the farm scenery was the same as last year, but our last six miles were wildly different from anything we’ve experienced since the forests of Oregon and Washington. We rode south on the Nickel Plate Trail, a railroad turned bike path, through a gorgeous wooded area full of birds and brooks. Best of all: the entire trail was nearly perfectly flat, a welcome reprieve for our cramping quads after fifty miles. 

We arrived in Peru (pronounced PEE-roo or like the country depending on who you ask) at about 5:00, where we stopped at Breakaway Bike Shop for some gear and for advice for tomorrow’s ride before settling down for the night in Shirk Mansion B&B. It’s an amazing nineteenth-century mansion in the heart of Peru and we’re the only guests. Wonderful antiques, great woodwork, and Dad and I get our own giant suites. Lovely – but it’s also the most likely place to see a ghost we’ve ever visited. 

Looking forward to another (colder) day tomorrow!

 The largest hill we’ll see all week: a landfill with trash from as far as Chicago. 


We hadn’t seen a single bike path in years, but today we saw two. Go Indiana!


A stop in Fletcher, a sleepy lake town.


Sign in Fletcher.


Lots of old bikes scattered around the town!


Lake Fletcher.

    About eleven miles later was a great lunch at the Hoosier Hot Spot in Denver. Next time you visit, try the BLT sandwich!
The start of the Nickel Plate Trail in Denver. We passed two people in the first mile then didn’t see a soul until Peru. 


  Our view for the entire ride down the Trail, excepting some wooden bridges over rivers. Amazing to be in trees after years of corn, soy, and wheat!
Peru, Indiana: Circus Capital of the World.


 Dad’s room in the B&B.


 The richest man in the area built this mansion for his son. 


 The bike leans in the grand entryway.


The outside of the B&B.


Day 5: Rensselaer to Rensselaer

August 15, 2014 § 1 Comment

Well, that was fast.

Today’s mileage rivaled Tuesday’s, when we got our first flat tire. All we had to do was hop on the bike and bring it further into town to drop it off at Superior Sales and Service for storage until our next ride. Now we’re on our way to Chicago, where Dad will fly to Massachusetts and I will fly to Des Moines to get ready for college!

What an amazing trip it was. Not only was it a very enjoyable ride, but we saw some beautiful country and met the most incredible people along the way. We’re just blown away by how lucky we are to be able to do this every summer, experiencing so much together. Looking forward to a few more great rides ahead! Until next time, may your travels be safe and the wind always at your back.

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