Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Day 48 – Columbus, OH to Athens, OH (91 miles)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

This morning we left Columbus and headed out to complete the final stretch of our journey. Atlantic Ocean, here we come!

We had a gorgeous, hilly, rainy ride today. As we were riding along, I was reflecting upon some of the things I was learning that day. Lessons from the road:

1. Southwestern Ohio is quite different from “Ohio-as-I-know-it.” While I am used to the corn fields, soybean fields, wheat fields, flat land, and generally boring overall appearance of Northwest and Central Ohio, Southwestern Ohio is the complete opposite. It was gorgeous. The fields seem more lush and greener. The scenery is much more pleasant on the eyes. And the topography is like a completely different place – lots and lots of hills. Some hills were pretty brutal. But the good thing about a hill is that (usually) for every ascent, there is a descent waiting on the other side (although it opposite is also true, unfortunately…).

2. When your chain falls off while going up a hill, the most logical thing to do is pedal like crazy. Unfortunately, this happened to me today. We were going up one of the brutal Southwestern Ohio hills, and I wanted to switch in to my lowest gear. (This gear is lovingly known as the “Granny gear.” This is the gear that provides the lowest resistance and is, thus, easiest for getting your butt up massive hills.) While trying to shift in to my Granny gear, my chain decided to rebel. Instead of moving in to this gear, it instead jumped off of my front cog. Awesome. So now, whenever I pedaled, my legs were not moving my wheels. Nothing was moving my wheels (because the chain was no longer connected to the wheel). While I was aware of this fact, my gut instinct was to attempt to move my feet even faster (even though this did absolutely nothing to propel me forwards). This, obviously, did not work. Because this is not how you get your chain back on the cog. Fortunately for me, the hill was not so steep that I didn’t have any forward momentum. I was able to clip out at the last minute to avoid falling over sideways on my bike. Crises averted.

3. Rain while running is fun. Rain while riding is annoying. Rain while riding downhill at 40+mph feels like bullets. We experienced intermittent rain throughout most of the afternoon. It was pretty annoying. At times, the rain came down pretty fast. While this may not seem so bad, while traveling down some of the massive Southwestern Ohio hills, you can get going pretty quickly. Thus, the rain drops no longer feel like rain drops; they feel like bullets pelting you from every direction. Not a very pleasant experience.

4. If it is raining, put on your rain jacket; then the rain will stop. But make sure that you leave your rain jacket on, because the instant you take it off, it will start raining again. This was perhaps the most annoying part of the day. The rain would start. We would ride on for a while, hoping that it was just a short shower. However, at some point, we would realize the rain was going to continue for a while and we would stop to put on our rain jackets. Then we would take off again. Literally within the next couple of minutes, the rain would inevitably stop. We would start burning up from wearing our jackets (they are pretty much like wearing a plastic bag), but would leave them on for a bit with the expectation that the rain would start again. But it wouldn’t. So we would stop and take our jackets off and then start on our way again. Literally within the next couple of minutes, the rain would inevitably start again. Then the above process would repeat itself. So we found ourselves with a dilemma: leave the jacket on, swelter in the heat, and avoid rain, or leave the jacket off and get drenched by the rain. Tough decision…

5. Take daily mileages with a grain of salt. I learned this lesson a long time ago, near the beginning of the trip. But I am reminded of it on an almost daily basis. Even when we are expecting a 80 mile day, we have to consider this mileage to be plus/minus 10-15 miles. This seems to take in to account all of the potential problems/changes that can occur along the route. And it helps keep us relatively calm when we are already at 90 miles when we are told that it is only going to be at 83 mile day.

6. Always remember what your specific road markings look like. Today our support team informed us that they would be using white and orange paint to mark our route. Good think I listened. Around 80 miles in, or so, we ran across three arrows labeled with an “R” marked in yellow paint on the road. All of the rest of our markings had been with white and orange paint and labeled with an “R4,” so I was pretty convinced that we were not supposed to follow those other arrows. Other, however, were not as convinced. And because of this, they ended up riding 5-10 extra miles. That’s an unfortunate mistake.

End of the forty-eighth day. And it was educational.

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