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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bike & Build Riders Entering Ohio

Pedaling through Pennsylvania

My Photo BY Eric Rowell..................Eric's pictures
Its crazy to think that tomorrow we'll be entering Ohio. In less than two weeks our group of thirty one has made it across Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, and now Pennsylvania. When you look at the map of the whole country it doesn't seem that impressive, but we're starting to feel like RI to OH is quite a feat in itself. Just one more hilly day ahead of us before we trade in the Appalachians, Catskills, and Alleghenies for the the plains of the Midwest!

They say the Appalachians are harder for cyclists to ride than the Rockies because the roads are steeper. In the Rockies there are switchbacks the whole way, but most of the Appalachians are straight to the top. I really think some of the toughest days physically (like to Roscoe and to Binghamton) are behind us. It also seems like I'm becoming more mentally and emotionally prepared (like the long cold, rainy days you'll read about in this post).

So anyways, we left Wellsboro and made it to Coudersport 50 miles later on the 15th. It was a pretty hilly rain with just a little rain but not too bad. We stayed at the Alliance Church in town where they fed us pizza and wings (delicious!), and then we hit the bed pretty early.

We woke up the next morning to rain on our way to Warren, PA. A 58 mile was in store, and Brooke and I were "sweep" for the day. This basically means we're the caboose of the group, staying with the last rider to make sure everyone is okay. The cold rain was miserable before lunch, and it seemed like we were swimming in it at times.

We arrived at lunch and decided to wait a while before getting back on the road. We warmed up in the van for almost an hour before the two of us took off again (once again at the back of the pack). We had given enough space so we were able to move at a pretty quick pace, and the afternoon was much more enjoyable, although still cold and wet.

This was probably the hardest day so far mentally because it seemed to grind out so slowly. The afternoon was more enjoyable though as the sun peaked out just a little, and Brooke and I were able to pass the time talking. Our host in Warren was the YMCA, so we were treated to an evening of saunas and hot showers. Definitely a big plus. We also had our second Affordable Housing meeting where several of our group members explained to us the history of Affordable Housing in the United States during the 1900's. Then we went to sleep in the gym which was great until basketball players came in at 5:30 to shoot some hoops while we were still asleep.

Today (the 17th) we woke up to more downpours. The temperature had dropped over night, and the high was only 55 degrees! Bundled in my jersey, arm warmers, knee warmers, a long sleeve jersey, and my rain jacket (hey, I'm not used to riding in the cold OR the rain) I hit the road with the first group. We were lucky enough to have Pastor Sam Gibb of the First Presbyterian Church in Franklin (our host for tonight) meet up with us this morning and ride the whole day.

The morning was cold, cold, cold, wet, and a bit sketchy at times as we had to spend quite a bit of time in construction areas. The weather broke a little bit at lunch time as we got to Pleasantville (ironic I know), where we had our trailer set up at a local diner. the lady who runs it was nice enough to let us bring our food in, and some of us decided to eat there. I had delicious buckwheat pancakes, and they definitely warmed my cold body up. After one quick uphill out of Pleasantville we were pretty much downhill, flat, or rolling hills the rest of the day.

Pastor Sam took us down some awesome bike trails to make the day shorter and safer, plus he set a great pace for us to follow. We held about 20 mph for most of the afternoon as he pulled us along at the front of the pack. We didn't even have to take turns up front, he did almost all of the work. It definitely made for a great day. My legs are feeling good tonight, and I'm ready for the next few days. We got to Franklin, showered and saunaed at the Y, and then Pastor Sam took us all to Subway for dinner! The church is also feeding us breakfast in the morning before we leave town. Hopefully it will warm up and dry out in the next couple of days.

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