I was up shortly after sunrise, as usual. When I came down from my room upstairs in the big farmhouse, down to the kitchen, something smelled good. My warm showers host, Kurt, was up early and had made some pancakes. We went out to the screened back porch and he soon had a thermos of fresh coffee to go along with the flapjacks. We traded a few more life stories and I got my fill of breakfast. I knew I wouldn’t be looking for second breakfast today.
The sun was shining as I left the farmhouse and the Ritchies. I wanted to get an early start as rain was expected in the late afternoon. I had beat the rain to Richmond yesterday and I wanted to be dry when I arrived in London, OH. The early miles went quickly. If there was a “Welcome to Ohio ” sign, I must have missed it. I did notice that the signs for the National Road had changed and now included a symbol shaped like Ohio. With Kurt’s pancakes as fuel, I went more than 20 miles before I finally needed a break at a gas station. I drank some milk and, more importantly, sat on something other than the bike saddle for a while. I was able to get past the Dayton airport before I took another break. At that gas station I had a nice mentoring conversation with a former speech therapy teacher.
I was saving my stomach real estate for Springfield. It was going to be the biggest town I would ride through today and would have the most options. As I entered from the east, I went through some rather run down areas. When I arrived at the Buckeye Sports Lodge, I thought I better secure Hidalgo safely to a lamp post with the lock and cable. Even though High Street in downtown was pretty empty, I took the panniers inside with me, since I couldn’t see the bike from inside the restaurant and bar. Lunch was a big, juicy burger and salad that needed 2 beers to keep the meal balanced. When finished, I slowly made my way east on High Street. As I got past the town center I went through a stretch of homes that looked like it could have been the backdrop for an Andy Hardy movie (Mickey Rooney all American boy of the 40s). It was just a classic image of the kind of thing you’d see in a Norman Mailer painting. Ohio just gives you such a sense of what middle America and the Midwest look and feel like. It is a mix of patriotism, farm, and factory.
My final push to London went smoothly along the National Road. I had to fight the wind as I headed south to London. Earlier, I had made a reservation at Andrea’s Bed and Breakfast. There were a few “hostel” style beds available and I reserved one as I wouldn’t need more than a shower and a place to sleep. Plus, breakfast was included. This place was amazing. It was a large home, with additional buildings in back, where the hostel rooms were located with their showers. The owner/manager, Susan Lockhart did a superb job of creating a welcoming atmosphere. When the rains rolled in, she even went to get my dinner from a local restaurant so I wouldn’t have to walk in the rain. This has been a fantastic place to spend the night. There were 2 other groups of cyclists that made it in after me. There are a couple of guys that are camping on the porch as I write this. Hidalgo has already turned a few heads. What a great addition to the adventure.
The Lone Rider