Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mountain Pass at Caradhras

Alliance, OH

After singin and dancin and breakfast burrito-in
its time to ride.

88 miles today.

Now that I'm on the road, I'm back in my element.
No more ice. Just hills and traffic. 
There's also the occasional Keith Maddox's of the world, 
but you learn not to let them bother you.

Don't be upset with him.
 He can't heppit.
After riding for a couple hours, I cross over into a different state.

It's sunny, I'm nocking out miles, I got some tunes, snacks,
Feeling good.

Then hills.

The picture doesn't show it well,
but this hill loomed over me like a specter of Mt. Doom,
casting a shadow of despair and evil over the land.
I drop down into the granny gears and and fight back.

LOTR: Balrog 

A lot of people think I'm cool,
but that's a common misconception.

I'm actually a genuine nerd.

Nerd or not, hills I can handle. 
I eat hills for breakfast.
But hills with fully loaded panniers is pretty new to me.
Descending is even a challenge. There's a steep hill in Parma
that I frequently bomb down and clock anywhere from 35-45 mph.
With a fully loaded touring bike you don't do that.
I grandpa my way up, 
and slowly shimmy my way back down the other side of hills.
When I arrive in Pittsburgh, its dark, 
but I immediately notice its a city of monstrous hills.
I don't reach my hosts till very late, about midnight.
They live at the top of one of such hills.

They are also wonderful people.

Who made me food.

I might ask them if I can move in.

Bikelife Just Got Real

Why am I doing this again? 

So I start riding my bike.

The first leg of my route takes the Ohio Erie Towpath Trail 
to Akron, and from there to Alliance. 
A friend in Alliance is graciously putting me up for the night. 
The ride is about 65-70 miles, 
I wanted to take it easy the first day.
We'll see about that.

I can be into this.
It's very pretty actually, but just two weeks ago it looked like this:

 Guys, its not even Thanksgiving, why is it so cold?

So I'm cruising along having a good time.
This would be a great time for music/audiobooks but I discovered
none of the files saved on my mp3 player as I intended.
I can get over it.
What I can't get over is Ice.

Great big slippery sheets of it. 
Even if you go really slow things can happen.

This is the spot where I fell.
The first time.
I won't tell you how many times I slipped on the ice and fell,
we're just going to recognize that I got very good at falling without hurting.

This is the spot where a few weeks ago Phil went over his handlebars.
That center-barrier-divider thing is intended as an obstacle.

I also encountered insurmountable obstacles.

The Towpath trail will be CLOSED
 from Frazee House to Station Road Trailhead
7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
The Towpath trail will be open weekends and evenings.

Oh well. Guess I'll go home.

So I go through the "barrier" to struggle with (gingerly-tiptoe-over) more ice sheets
which also cover both bridges on the Towpath.

They have taken the bridge
We cannot get out
Drums in the deep


Between miles of slippery sheets of ice
and the short span of sunlight this time of year,
its crazy dark by the time I get to Akron.

Darkness leads to cold.
Cold riding leads to exhaustion.
Exhaustion when you're not even close to your destination and its dark and the back country roads have no lights so your mind plays tricks on you and the temperature dropped to 17 degrees and your bikelights are dying and you think you might pass out
leads to suffering.

Remember how I said I only wanted to do 65-70 miles on the first day?
Ya know, to keep it "easy."

Luckily, I know a person in Alliance.

She came and picked me up in HER CAR THAT I RODE IN.
No shame. I don't need your permission.

The night ended in hot tea, mountains of spaghetti and baby pictures.

Thank you so much.