Sunday, July 29, 2007

Biking To Chautauqua

When I was on our Mediterranean Cruise I had a dream that instead of just riding my bike from Cleveland to Chautauqua I could ride from Chicago to Chautauqua! What a great idea.

So as soon as I got home from RAAM I began setting in motion all the little and big details of a solo, self-contained 500+ mile bike ride.

With my trusty Garmin I created a wonderful route that would land me in:
  • La Porte, IN at the end of Day 1, about 90 miles
  • Auburn, IN at the end of Day 2, about 100 miles
  • Fremont, OH at the end of Day 3, about 130 miles
  • Cleveland, OH at the end of Day 4, about 100 miles
  • Chautauqua, NY at the end of Day 5 about 120 miles
The next challenge was to find a buddy to ride with. Not an easy task. "Hey, wanna ride 500 miles with me to NY?" Even if they wanted to, to pull that off in a blink of an eye...well, now that's pretty tough.

But, I had the good fortune of spending the weekend in Muskegon, MI the end of June with my Desert Camp, recumbent friend, Denise. Her long-faithful riding buddy, Ken, another bent rider, was up for at least part of the ride. He would ride down from Muskeon, MI and meet me in La Porte and ride Days 2 and 3 with me.

Walt, a Transcon rider and one of the racers on Team 60 Going Hard, lives in Cleveland, OH. He and I began talking on RAAM about how to make it happen for us to ride some of my route together. What could work was he would ride west from Cleveland and I rode east toward Cleveland and we would meet on the road. We did just that, had lunch together, rode to my hotel and then he rode on home in Cleveland Heights. We met up on the road again on the following morning, Day 5, and rode about 50 miles together before he turned around and rode home again.

All five days were amazingly pleasant--good weather, good comaraderie, no mechanical problems, and courteous drivers. It was so pleasant that I have been smitten by the touring bug and am now questing after a long wheel based recumbent (maybe a Gold Rush??) that can better accommodate the weight of loaded touring while also increasing the stability. I'm fantasizing about an 850 mile ride to Columbus, GA to see Kirk's Mom, and a 950 mile ride to Keene, NH to see my friend, Barb. At least it's something to dream about.

A couple of funny sights along the way:
  • A sign which read: "Wigs and Food"
  • There was a hitching post outside the local grocery store, not for bikes, but for horses, you guessed it we were in Amish Country
  • Bowling Transportation (I thought this community had such avid bowlers they even provided transportaion to the local alleys. But Ken convinced me it was the name of a transportation company since they were recruiting, drivers, owners, and operators).
Probably the most amazing thing of all was that Daniel from Arizona, Katie, Aaron, and Mya from Chicago, Kirk, from Wilmette, and G'ma Mary and her three septa/octogenarian friends from Georgia, and I all arrived at Chautauqua for our family reunion within 5 minutes of one another. This will be the re-write of the classic, Planes, Bikes, and Automobiles. :))

Oh, while I was in Cleveland, I GPS'd the "You'll Shoot Your Eye Out" Christmas Story Museum. Hopped on my bike and rode the 12+ miles from my hotel. What fun it was. Watching that classic has been part of our family's Christmas Holiday Tradition since the movie was released in 1983.

There are a few pix from biking along the northern tier, including The Christmas Story House/Museum on my shutterfy.


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