Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Peace, I had done (Nov 27th)

Last night I looked down and realized that my coat's entire front had become crusted with white ice.

I stopped under an overpass and beat the coat against the wall for a bit, but the ice wouldn't break off.  So I bivouacked under a pine tree a short distance from there, not too far west of Alexandria, Ohio.

There was too much ice on my boots to easily get them off, so I scraped off what I could with a knife and slept with them on until they started to thaw (dangerous business that).  Once they loosened up, I removed them, threw them into a plastic bag, then took off my cotton jeans and used them to soak up the little bit of moisture that had leaked off the boots into the bivvy (turns out cotton is good for something after all).  I had already removed my overcoat.

The bivvy is warm enough, I was wearing enough woolen undergarments (especially on my legs), and I timed it right so that I didn't get soaked or cold, and my bedroll stayed more or less dry all night.  I was warm and cozy, but still, dangerous business that. 

I put the bag with my boots in them back into the sack so they wouldn't freeze.

This morning my red overcoat was frozen as stiff as old rawhide.  The bike's brakes still work, but the shifters are caked with ice and unresponsive.  The bike path through Granville towards Newark and Newcomers is choked with snow.

So I took the slushy roads fifteen miles as the crow flies (but closer to 20 or 25 as the biker rides) to the town square in Newark.

Winter has been nipping at my heels state by state since I left Idaho.  There was a dusting of snow on my tires on Halloween, but I outran it.  Well, it has finally caught me.  Perhaps I could press on.  Home is less than 300 miles from here, even biking; Pittsburgh and my mother's school apartment only about half that far.

But it's Thanksgiving tomorrow, and a few snow sodden days of biking seem poor trade compared to a holiday with the clan. 

So it is, with a surprisingly light heart and in my last set of dry clothes, that I hereby declare my journey over.

Katelynn is meeting me here in Newark at the "Simply Rising" cafe and bakery where I am treating her to lunch.  I will be riding home with her this evening.

It may seem a shame to come so far only to fail on the last leg before home.  The funny thing is, though, I don't feel like I've failed at all.  Quite the opposite, in fact, though I'm not sure exactly why.  Sorry to let you all down one last time, but in the end this was something I was doing for me (wasn't it?). 

I don't know how many thousands of miles I've travelled.  My phone won't tell me (It's fritzing again), so I will have to tally that up later.  I need to tally up the donations as well, send out a few personalized thank-yous, and see that I donate an equal amount, myself, to nonprofits as promised.  I'm still thinking Chestnuts and maybe Rails-to-Trails.  I'm giving myself six months to make said donation(s), but I should be able to afford them much earlier than that if the tutoring in early 2014 goes well.  So there will be one or two more posts sometime in the future just to complete things.

I don't know what else to say.  I'm going home friends.  It's not far.  The thought of it makes my heart swell.  Thank you all for following with me.  Be well; be warm.

Peace, I had done.

The storm.

Rough storm last night. Had to bivvy early.  Managed to stay mostly dry and warm, though.  More about it later. Trying to make mileage now.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Heading for Home. (Ohio, nov 25th)

Winter has been right behind me state by state.  I think it's about to catch me.

I biked yesterday after (hopefully) fixing my phone and didn't stop until 6 am.  The cold didn't seem to bother me much.  I'm in Ohio now; Dayton to be exact.  There are many good bike paths in Ohio and I aim to follow them again until as late as I can keep going. 

I've taken to waking late so that I can eat lunch buffets for breakfast and then biking long ways when the traffic is low to nill.

A fellow at Rob's diner in Brookville called me inspiring this morning.  Then a woman named Cathy (not the one from Rossville,  a different Cathy) bought me breakfast, and a Veteran in the men's room talked to me about Korea and gave me a ten to help me on my way.

I don't know how inspiring I am, and I never ask for these hand outs.  Usually someone sees the bike helmet and starts asking questions.  All I do is talk: Tell them how I came to be here, and how good I feel, and how much I thoroughly (even desperately) want to be home.  People are kind, it would seem.

Right now I am letting my phone get a good charge and resting up before another hard push.  I need to try to cross Ohio before the snow hits too hard.  I've made it this far, though. 

If the weather shuts me down, that's okay.  I feel like I left the old anxieties somewhere in the Idaho Deserts.  I'm ready to be home. :)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Slow going.

The weather slowed me in Illinois, and my equipment has been giving me trouble in Indiana.

After I wore a hole clean through my rear rubber (leaving Illinois) my phone then started fritzing.  The Verizon guy said it's probably because I took too many photos and used up most of the memory.  So currently I am uploading said photos to the cloud, a slow process that is costing me a lot of mileage, but hopefully one that will fix the problem.

After all, I use this phone not only for photos and updating this blog, but also to find restaurants, crosscheck maps, and keep an eye on the wind and weather.  It is the source of most of my information and when it isn't functioning I am riding a bit blind.  Granted, I can improvise (and have) when the phone was down or out of batteries, but I don't like to be out of contact for long.

I guess I don't mind taking things easy today, being that it has grown mighty cold out, but honestly the cold hasn't really bothered me yet (so long as I am pedaling with the wind). 

On the plus side the Verizon guy gave me a free, rechargeable external battery (and was awesome to talk to) and the people of the town of Advance were very nice company (My phone died, so I went east until I saw their water tower, steered for it, and used the computer in their library to reorient myself).

In other news, I have also upgraded my visibility.  I have gotten a bigger, brighter blinker for the back of the bike and have a bright construction worker vest covering my pack.  There were too many people getting too close for my liking as they came up behind me.  The vest seems to have done the trick, but I still stay off of state highways now as if they were the interstate (because they might as well be the interstate at this point).

The guy at Dunums gave me a huge discount on the safety gear. :)

The sleep sack still keeps me toasty warm at night even at single digit temperature. :)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Indiana

Rossville is a wonderful place.

The Mayor, who introduced himself as Dick Queen, recommended a little cafe on the edge of town, known as Merita's.  My server, whose name is Katherine (or maybe Catherine), just bought me breakfast out of the blue. I was just telling stories as I normally do.

And she called me "kiddo" :)

I'm really starting to like this town.

Nov. 22nd.

I'm still in Illinois friends.  I waited the better part of the last two days for the storms to pass.  I read two novels cover to cover sitting in a bookstore and later a library.

The rain let up last night about seven or eight and I biked long through the fog and mist (some 40 or 50 miles extra miles in the eerie gray oblivion).  I often could barely see the road, but the path was easy, there was no traffic, and the night felt warm. 

I made the last town before the border, Hoopeston it's called, and I would have kept going but I ran into a hitch.  I have finally worn the rubber of my tires clean through. 

There is a hole the size of a quarter in my rear tire now.  I can see the hard "tuffy" strip poking through but still protecting the tire from a blowout.

I have seen no bike shop for at least 100 miles and it was another 50 miles to the next one in Layfayette, Indiana.  So I have decided to turn south some 23 miles out of my way to reach a closer shop in Danville.

The rain caught up with me, though, in the wee hours of the morning, so I took shelter in a small park in Rossville Illinois.

I was woken this morning by the mayor of Rossville.  He brought me coffee. :)