On Saturday, we continued to monitor the weather after Friday evening’s impressive thunderstorms in southern Indiana, but, thankfully, we were able to ride all day Saturday without incident. After Dan and I nearly finished our customary graveyard shift (the thunderstorms cut short our rides), The Hollingsworth team of Mark and Isaac started early Saturday morning, moving us spritely toward the Ohio boarder. When their shift concluded, Kelly O’Connell and Steve Sedgwick took off with the baton, while the rest of sough the comfort afforded by an RV campsite: picnic tables for leisurely lunches, stationery bathrooms, large, clean showers, drainage facilities (Dumping grey and black water is as cathartic an activity as saying 12 “Hail Mary’s.), laundry facilities (And we discovered washing one’s clothes after 8 days in an RV is as decadent a treat as sipping champagne on the banks of the Seine.)
While we wiled away the time at the RV camp, speaking with families enjoying their vacation there and admiring larger RV’s, Kelly and Steve enjoyed a wonderful ride along the Ohio River. Yesterday I waxed poetically about the special significance and historical place that the Mississippi River has in American lore, but I could have just as easily been celebrating the Ohio River, which also has a rich and deep history. Because it flows westerly, the Ohio, which feeds into the Mississippi at Cairo, Illinois, was a convenient means for pioneers to reach cities like St. Louis. Because it separated Free states from slave states, the River has a clear place in American’s second fight for freedom, the Civil War. It has been featured in many works of art, including the iconic Boatman’s Dance, Huckleberry Finn (Remember that Jim and Huck’s original plan was to raft south on the Mississippi to Cairo, Illinois where they would then float to freedom on the Ohio River.), and Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Eliza crosses the dangerous ice floes along the Ohio and escapes to freedom). Kelly and Steve reported that their trip along the Ohio River featured scenic vistas and welcomed tailwinds. They finished their appointed round 30 minutes early, and we met in Ohio, the state. Kelly’s parents and her father-in- law met us near the Queen City, Cincinnati, and Kelly, stunned that we did laundry without her and eager to spend time with her family, gathered her laundry and Steve and went home for a few hours. We, after sending Carl Petterson and Greg Daniels on their way at approximately 5:30, descended on the local grocery store for victuals.
The evening passed uneventful, as Greg and Carl rode mainly on the Miami Bicycle trail in southern Ohio, enjoying the smooth surface. They gave over their responsibilities to Dan and me around 11:15 in London, Ohio. I rode the first 90 minutes, and then repaired to the Prius to support Dan. While traipsing along behind him, I was pulled over by a police officer. As polite as Dr. Henry Louis Gates was disorderly, I explained why I was seemingly riding the double line behind my cyclist at 1 in the morning: to make sure that I didn’t cast a shadow on the road for him. Luckily, he let me go without incident, and I continued to follow Dan before finishing my ride. Dan completed our shift beautifully, averaging well over 20 miles per hour through Fredericktown and into Butler, Ohio. Mark and Isaac awaited us and took off for Port of Canal Fulton, where we made the transition back to Kelly and Steve this morning. Mark and Isaac reported a challenging ride that started at 5 this morning, but a good one.
Canal Fulton, part of the famous Eric Canal system, has transformed the formerly vital canal into a living museum, so we have wandered around here meeting and greeting well wishers. Carl’s mother and dog visited with us this morning and supplied us with more homemade beef jerky—thank you, Mrs. Petterson—cookies, and potato salad. Greg’s wife and son visited with us as well, sharing cookies and Mediterranean Chicken Salad. After exchanging pleasantries and appreciations, we repaired to a local café for breakfast: pancakes, vegetarian omelets and other good breakfast fare.
Soon we will leave here, expecting to enter the Pennsylvania, the Keystone State, my family’s future home, which will be the final test for us. We have heard that the mountains of Pennsylvania are even more challenging than the Rockies (or even, perhaps, the Ozarks). The wind is blowing in such a way that I think rain will travel with us across the state line.
People, get ready, we are almost there. Of course, we never could have made it this far without our tremendous support: Erin, Gary, and Martha. They have driven us in the RV, taken hundreds of pictures, rubbed our weary muscles, shown tremendous flexibility, resilience, and patience, bucked us up, and supported us in every conceivable way. We eight riders bask in the glory of the task, but we could never accomplish it without their anticipating rough spots and quickly working to smooth them. At every transition they are there to assist us and guide us. Their work has not gone unnoticed by us. We appreciate all that they have done and know that when we arrive in New York on Tuesday morning they deserve as much of the congratulatory words as those of us who rode.