I woke in the dawn twilight and listened for the wind. All I heard was a rooster crowing in still morning, and I knew I should get up and make some mileage before the wind started to blow and the afternoon storms raged. So I was on the road by 620 am, missing my coffee fix because it turned out that gas stations didn’t open before eight am on a Sunday morning in the small towns of west central Ohio, far from the interstate.
I followed a delightfully curvy road for a long time. So seduced by its curves I was that I missed the turnoff for Bowling Green, and didn’t discover it until I was two miles south of the Northern Tier Route.
By now, the wind was piping up from the south southwest, as forecast. Now, no good sailor will waste two miles of southing when beating into a southerly gale, so I confirmed that my westbound course would eventually intersect with the proper route again, and continued on Rte 105 west. I soon ran into an obstacle: yet another critical bridge closed for construction, with a detour that ran dead downwind. I stopped at the open service station for coffee and confirmed that to the south, the next westbound road should take me towards an eventual intersection with the Northern Tier Route.
This road crossed the interstate, but dead ended soon after another north-south crossroads. But just as I was about to make a u-turn I saw a fortuitous rail trail at the cul de sac – this one I had found by accident, not by Google. Just as I was celebrating my good luck, the branch rail trail hit the north-south trunkline, so I tacked south, frantically checking my charts for a westerly through route back to the rhumb line. But it turned out all the charted westerly reaches were blocked by an obstruction – the bridgeless Auglaize.
But I also realized that I was getting a lift on the starboard tack, since the tree lined paved trail let me make good progress even while pinching into the increasing southerly wind. So I stayed on starboard tack all the way south to Rudolph, where the Defiance Pike presented a 30 mile reach to the safe harbor of Defiance. Boy oh boy, did that south wind blow then on the open West Ohio Sea! If I had the right sails, I could have made a screaming reach of it all the way to Defiance. But my torso-sail couldn’t generate much lift no matter how I trimmed it to the wind, and I powered on, buffeted by rolling gusts on the beam, for three hours, finding brief refuge in the lee of occasional islets of trees.
And so I made the 65 miles into the safe harbor of Defiance before lunchtime and before the storms. I was hoping to find a lunch spot downtown, but all the downtown eateries seemed to be closed on Sunday, and as I left town there was a choice of KFC, DQ, Subway and Ed’s Ice Cream Factory. I nearly turned around for the KFC, reasoning that I was burning so many calories that I could indulge some of my favorite really unhealthy foods, but then reconsidered and decided I should give the non-franchised Ed’s a chance. The only non-beef on their menu of not-ice cream was popcorn shrimp, so I ordered some and asked to use the restroom, and I was informed there wasn’t one. Not even for emergencies.
Nor was there an electrical outlet, so I finished my popcorn shrimp hastily, and went the block back to the Subway, where the staff rally wanted to know where I was coming from and going to, where they had a restroom, and where they welcomed me to sit and watch the rain for a few hours while charging my phone, all for the cost of a six-inch sub. I made reservations for the night at the Bittersweet Inn in Paulding, another 20 miles on (per adventure cycling) or 26 miles on (per Google).
Adventure Cycling proved correct: it was an easy 20 mile ride into Paulding in the post squall line showers. Shortly before I reached town, the sun came out over the verdant flooded fields. And I got my fried chicken dinner at the very very local Red House Pizza shack.