Day 7: Wauseon, Ohio (83.22 miles, 552.31 total miles)
What a difference a day makes.
I woke up around 6:30 a.m. and tried to fall back asleep but failed. After about half an hour, I got up, packed up my things and headed out. The first thing I noticed upon leaving was that it was chilly, but sunny. The second thing I noticed was that the flags on the houses across the street were all hanging limp. There was not much of a breeze. I took this as a good sign. The hotel did not have any food service so I bike a mile or so until I came upon a Burger King where I got some fast food breakfast.
Disappointed by my experience on the North Coast Inland Trail yesterday (which I improperly referred to as the Great Coastal Inland Trail), I decided to avoid it and headed down Route 20. Now, Route 20 is a busy route, with lots of trucking and traffic. There was also a section under construction with a lane closure. Now, the traffic will often give me a wide berth when conditions are good, but when they’re feelings squeezed into a lane and you’re on the shoulder, it’s not an enjoyable experience. I made it through the construction zone okay but once I got to the town of Clyde, Ohio (birthplace of the legendary Rodger Young), I decided that I would turn to check out the bike trail after all. It would certainly have less traffic on it and it might be paved. When I got to the bike trail, I was delighted to see that it was, in fact, an asphalt surface.
I had to duck off the trail for a bit to use a restroom and when I came back, there was a train passing by. I’m fond of trains and enjoyed just sitting there watching this one roll by.
I continued on the trail and found it to be really enjoyable. Without the headwinds and with this delightfully flat terrain, I could make some really good time. In fact, I was able to do something I hadn’t been able to do in days: use my highest gear (20th) on something other than a downhill. I was able to use 20th speed for sustained periods of time and get to a cruising speed of about 17 mph. Were my bike not laden, I could definitely have gone faster, but even so I passed every other cyclist I came across.
The trail broke off after a few miles and I passed through the town of Freemont, which had signs marking the bike route. When I picked it up northwest of town, it was even more enjoyable.
Now, it was flanked by rows of trees and made its way through farmland. There were frequent crossings, but the roads themselves did not appear to be used much. I found I was making really good time. I passed through the towns of Lindsey and Elmore, the latter of which had a bike shop and a bike-up window at an ice cream shop. The ice cream shop would fill your water bottle for free. I took them up on that and also bought a chocolate milk for my muscles.
I got back on the trail but suddenly, the trail went from paved to almost non-existent: two barely discernible tire tracks in the grass. As this was my only way forward, I biked along for another half mile until I came out on a roadway that I was supposed to take. I went my way zigzagging on these large square blocks of roads, tracking the Interstate and crossing it a number of times. At one crossing, I stopped to take a picture of the farmland below and noted that it was just noon and I’d already gone about 40 miles. This was exactly the pace I was hoping for when I came to Ohio. I was glad that on my third day in the state, I actually got to cruise the way I was expecting.
I wound up on a nice straight road called Genoa road that would take me directly to Route 20. Suddenly, as I was crossing a major intersection, I could see that the road was closed ahead. There was a detour but who knew how many miles it would add on to my trip. So I biked ahead intent on discovering how long this construction was and whether I could go around it. When I got up to the site, there were a handful of construction guys around; I guess the rest of them were on lunch break. I asked how far this construction went but as they answered I could see that it went only about 100 feet—they appeared to be repairing a bridge. They said I could walk my bike through, which was a huge timesaver. As I was walking, one guy said, “Don’t try to bike back this way once they’re working again.” I said, “Don’t worry, I’m only going one way today.”
I continued along Genoa and reintersected Route 20. As we approached Perrysburg there was more construction. There was a huge backup of cars as they were doing a one-lane alternating flow. I just cruised on up the shoulder and when I got to the front, the flagman motioned for me to go behind him, which I did. The pavement was bumpy, as it was being resurfaced, but the bike handled it just fine.
I eventually came to Perrysburg and traveled through the neighborhoods headed toward the river crossing. As I was going through the neighborhoods, I came across a lemonade stand. I love coming across lemonade stands when I’m out biking. I came across one in suburban Maryland a few weeks ago and had a nice conversation with the young people running it about the trip I’m on right now. So, I stopped and bought a lemonade. The three boys were also selling apples. As I was standing there, one of the boys said, “I’ll go get some more apples,” whereupon he crossed the street to a group of apple trees on what appeared to be public land, and picked a few.
Continuing on down the road, refreshed by the lemonade, I headed toward the bridge. As I was waiting to make the turn, a guy in a white van shouted at me, “Nice bike, man!” I turned and said, “Thanks” and he continued: “Raleighs roll!” I said, “Yeah, I’ve come 500 miles on this one.” “Raleighs roll!” he repeated before saying, “Be safe!” and driving off. I crossed over the Maumee River (it travels north to Toledo and the lake), and then made my way through the streets of Maumee.
Eventually, I came upon the Wabash Cannonball Bike Trail. This is another trail built on old railway lines and like the railway lines that run nearby, it’s rail straight. Now, I was a little wary of what this trail would be like; I’d done some research online and it appeared that this section of the trail would be paved. And boy, was it. It may be the most beautiful bike trail I’ve ever seen. Good pavement, dotted yellow line down the middle, and, to top it all off, white lines on each side. All this thing needed was rest stops (though it did have a couple of bathrooms along the way), and it would be the closest thing to a bike highway that we have.
After nine miles of cruising along this absolutely beautiful trail, suddenly the trail just shifted to two dirt tracks, not unlike the trail I’d been on earlier. Well, I was not about to spend the last 11 miles on that kind of surface so I turned and headed back up to Highway 20. I got on the road and continued on. The bike trail must have been traveling at an angle, because when I was on it, my Google Maps said I was only 21 miles away from my destination. Having biked 9 on the trail and then biking another two up to the main road, I figured that I had, at most, 12 miles to go. (The math is not that difficult.)
But this leg really wore on and finally I saw a sign for Wauseon, the town I was planning on stopping in, that said “7 miles”. That didn’t seem possible. I should be closer than that. But I just put my head down and kept biking and in another 25 minutes or so I was at my hotel.
Getting here so much earlier than usual means that my evening will me more relaxing than the last few have been. I took the opportunity to go for a swim and soak in the whirlpool. I am doing this blog now so that after dinner I can read or just relax and watch a little TV. I’d been getting into something of a vicious cycle getting in late, not sleeping enough, getting up later in the morning, and then getting in all the later at the next destination.
But the winds were favorable today and I was able to keep the pace I’d hoped to do. I am 552 miles into a 760 mile trek. Here’s hoping the remaining three days will be more of the same.
The map of today’s route, with elevation data.