5/20 (Posted late)
Today I made 75 miles, to Salamonie State Forest, Indiana. This leaves me about 45 miles short of where I wanted to be by today, fourteen riding days into my trip.
When I woke up at the Bittersweet Inn I could hear that the wind was blowing. I already had diminished expectations for the day, given that I was running through my hotel and meals budget too fast, and campgrounds were either 75, 102, or 120 miles upwind. I fixed on the 75 mile run to Salamonie State Forest.
The wind was WNW at 10-20 mph. Riding into the wind is like pedaling up a constant gentle hill – it’s not that hard on the legs, but you just can’t maintain any speed. The only way I can ride all day is to take it very easy on my legs and knees, so I had to be satisfied with nine miles per hour.
Wind turbines were spinning in western Ohio. To me, they look like a graceful addition to the landscape, and no more of an industrial intrusion into the pastoral landscape than the dairy barns, grain silos, and agricultural tanks dotting the landscape. This part of the country is devoted to production – there is precious little wild land, just the occasional wetland or wildlife preserve. Food production is just another form of energy production, like wind turbines. Back in Erie County, OH, yesterday, yellow signs sprouted in the farmscape reading “No Wind Turbines in Erie County.” I understand the instinctual fear and opposition to whatever is big, imposing, and new. But wind power is not a matter of “progress” – it’s a matter of salvation.
I ran down state line road on the Indiana border. On my left side, signs welcomed the traveler to Ohio, but to my right, no signs hinted that you just entered Indiana. But I felt welcome in Munroeville, where a man came running down his driveway to greet me. Neil wanted to know if I was staying at the community center (Munroeville welcomes bike trekkers with free indoor camping). But Munroeville was too far for yesterday’s ride, and way too close for today’s. I did go food shopping in the Munroeville Dollar General, since it seemed that would be the last food store I would see in the 55 miles to Salamonie.
The terrain changed in Indiana, slowly but surely. Copses of blessed trees to break the wind became more frequent west of Hoagland, and the road began to rise and fall gently in undulations that would eventually be worth calling hills. The rest of the ride was a matter of grinding slowly into the wind, head down and on the dropped handlebars in the open areas, relaxing with my head up in the shelter of trees, and rejoicing when the route dropped south and the breeze turned briefly into a tailwind. There was some rain, and mostly overcast skies. With temperatures in the 50s, my fingers were cold again. Too cold to play this guitar I have been lugging around – I couldn’t fret anything but a G chord. But my knees, feet, and legs felt fine. My butt, not so much.
I made the campground by 530 pm, where I ran into the first long distance cyclist I have seen since Pittsburgh – a young woman from Michigan who is cycling to North Carolina to see her grandmother. Salamonie State Forest is a gem of woods and wildlife in this agricultural landscape.
Tomorrow should be interesting. The winds will blow from the east, so I was counting on making a big day, but it will be in the 40s and raining. My phone battery is almost dead, so I won’t be able to post this until tomorrow