Brothers and sisters:
In July I told the International about the bicycle trip I planned from Cleveland and Lake Erie to Cincinnati and the Ohio River. The sole mission: carry a bottle of water from lake to river, from CLE to CIN via US 42.
There were more than a few moments both prior to and in the midst of the adventure when I questioned the sanity of continuing what many believed was a quixotic folly.
My first stop on my way out of town was to see my Granny and tell her I was finally attempting the trip we had so meticulously planned in my very early youth. Her headstone marked her passing but, in that moment surrounded by silence I could hear her voice urging me forward.
The first two days were filled with hills and heat until south of Cardington, the terrain flattened and I found US 42 laid out as flat as possible all the way to Delaware. The heat took a physical toll that was difficult to overcome. My body drained of strength and fluids barely came out for day three to Xenia. From Delaware through Plain City, London, and South Charleston, the head wind checked my progress and the ubiquitous farmland taxed my spirit. Barely a soul to be seen. I kept my head down and willed the front wheel to move forward. Ever forward.
I understand the lure of farming. There is purity in the solitude of the practice that keeps a man grounded to what is important: his family, his land and his God. The crops slowly rustling in the precursor wind sang a melody that was not entirely unfamiliar to my suburban soul. Was that my Granny’s voice again urging me on?
Just out of South Charleston the clouds, which all day threatened rain, finally opened up and drenched me before I could don my poncho.
Oh well, it’s only water.
I found a rail trail paralleling 42 to Xenia just as a second front featuring thunder, lighting and high winds caught me out in the open. This is a very dangerous combination and situation. After checking into the Ramada, I showered, dried off and planned for my final assault.
The trail I found on my way in would serve as the starting point for my finish. I rode an easy and quick 18 miles through Spring Valley and Corwin before rejoining 42. I was forced off the road by a semi carrying stone and after putting myself back together decided that lunch in Lebanon was in order. The Golden Lamb is reputed to be one of the best restaurants in Ohio and I can tell you the spinach chicken salad is primo.
Weather reports said rain south of Lebanon was a given. After lunch, I put on the poncho and rode on. A few miles out of town, I crossed a railroad track and went down hard on the pavement. Skinned knee and bleeding elbow later, I once again righted myself and swore I’d be damned if I was going to fail.
When I reached Sharonville the road became hilly again but, this time I rode my brakes down hill in the rain instead of working my shifters up hill in the heat to climb. The momentum continued until I arrived in downtown Cincinnati and, at the foot of the Roebling Suspension Bridge, poured the bottle of lake water into the river.
I sat on a swing, called my wife and told her I made it. I could feel my Granny sitting on one side and my seven year old self on the other and they both were smiling.
Four days and 260 miles later I can report to the International I made it.
Until next month,
Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.