Monday, September 08, 2008

Fremont--Mentor, OH –125 miles—August 26th

There is a saying in the 12 Step Program—“Plan but don’t plan the outcome.” I’ve been learning anew about that this trip with everyday re-routes, bonus miles, and today’s steady 20 mile head wind with gusts to 30, thanks to Gustav who finally made his way this far north.

Additionally, my Garmin (GPS) was not my friend today. Today’s route, which I had loaded into my Garmin from my computer back in the route planning stage of this trip, involved more than 50 data points (my failure to check that out when I built the route) so it would not navigate for me. That’s a helpless feeling given my trip history of losing my routes due to construction. And, sure enough at mile 4.5 my “blue” road was closed and I was re-routed onto US 20.

Now US 20 can be bike friendly in parts of the country, but this part was not. It, too, was under construction, one lane in places, with many, many 18 wheelers bustling by with their loads. I, next to them, was no more than the many frogs I saw hopping across the roads; and they were the lucky ones, those that were still hopping.

Glad to see Clyde (a town) where I was able to buy a useful map of eastern Ohio’s County roads. After only a few more miles on US 20 I found County 113—a good road, a safe road, and one which I soon realized I had ridden last year on my way from home to Chautauqua, NY.

Noon came in Amherst, a western suburb of Cleveland. I was falsely wooed into believing I was making good time and progress, after all I was on the west side of Cleveland and only had to go to the east side. So, I treated myself to an actual stop for lunch at the Quarries, a restaurant highly recommended by the locals. Quarries was the place for social lubrication for the stubble-bearded old men who daily harvest memories of their farming days. I routinely forget, despite a simple order in places like the Quarries, the food preparation time is huge. The only thing I could eat on the menu was mashed potatoes, green beans, and peaches; order-to-table time was at least 25 minutes and came to a total of $8.44, cash only. Oh, and the green beans and peaches were both canned. Not my favorite meal, but indeed memorable.

Equipped with no Garmin and my County Road map I braved Cleveland on the early side of rush. I ended up in Whisky Island Park almost close enough to touch the Cleveland Indian’s Progressive Field. But close enough is not good enough when I needed to be on the OTHER side, east side of the field. An SOS call to Walt, a PAC Tour friend who lives in Cleveland and works in Erie, who got me off the island and back on the road. But, I still had to negotiate downtown Cleveland essentially mapless.

Given 25-30 mph head winds, route-seeking, and following the coast’s curve of Lake Erie it had become 5:00ish and I was only half-way across Cleveland with 30 +/- miles to go before I sleep barring no further unforeseens.

Alas, there was another unforeseen. Believing I was only 10 miles or so from this night’s Super 8 Motel, I turned on the Garmin to guide me in. By this time I had been on the road for 12 hours, and had had only 2 nutrition bars, long ago mashed potatoes, green beans, and peaches. I am now hungry, anxious, lonely, and tired—a variation of AA’s well known H.A.L.T. (hungry, angry, lonely, tired), if unaddressed, the ingredients for relapse. While not vulnerable for relapse, I was clearly vulnerable to decision making errors. And that’s just what happened. The Garmin said something about OH RT 2 West, which is basically an interstate. Desperate to get to the hotel I got on RT 2 West now to be told by the Garmin to get off RT 2 West and go on RT 2 East. I was in a never-ending exit interstate loop. I did get off RT 2, found the piece of paper with the address of the motel, but no phone number.

I called Kirk blubbering and blundering through my story of tired woe and ended with please, please help me find my ^&*($^$)&&))&^(%&^$) hotel. He was awesome. I gave him my location; he Google Mapped the solution and talked me through the last 4 miles without my having to get back on RT 2.

A humorous note to my long, wearisome day: the street sign for the road on which the Super 8 lived was on the opposite side of a 4-laned, islanded, busy street—making seeing the sign difficult in the waning civil twilight. Decided to pull into the Comfort Suites and ask directions, but then saw a single story, low budget looking motel next door and a patron in the parking lot. Thought that had to be the Super 8. Rolled up to the patron and asked if, indeed, this was the Super 8. Well, it turned out to be an extended care facility. I figured that would be a good fit. The Super 8 actually turned out to be directly across the street behind the Bob Evans. But, there was no street level or sky scraper signage for it. Hard to find even not being H.A.L.T.

Pix: Passed through Milan, OH, the boyhood home of Thomas Edison; sacred corn fields, and finally entered Cleveland--map-less. Click on each of the pix to zoom in.

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