Finally… the long anticipated blog entry…
“I Reject Sweetest Day” (aka “Heidi’s Hiram Headwind”) Ride
Ride Mileage: 40 miles
Mars Girl’s shadow is at the bottom of the picture (yes, Martians cast shadows).
Having had such a successful ride in Wayne County on Labor Day, I decided to take the reigns of ride leadership with the ABC yet again on Oct. 20th with the goal being a stop at my alma mater, Hiram College. When I scheduled it back in September, I had no idea what the weather would be like or if the ride would end up taking place. It’s hard to tell in Ohio at this time of year just what kind of weather you’re going to get — it could snow, it could be 80 degrees. I almost couldn’t have asked for better weather, as the temperatures were in the sixties and quite comfortable for fall riding. I said almost because the wind was HORRENDOUS. Thus, the alias title for my ride.
I drove the route after work on Friday before the ride since I’d plotted it using mapmyride.com, which has failed me once horribly in the past, turning an innocent 63-mile solo ride into a 75-mile ride from hell. To my surprise, all of the roads I’d plotted on this particular route actually existed and did not appear pocked like the surface of the moon. It was just extra credit that these roads also turned out to be very scenic, many of them lined with trees exhibiting the best colors of fall. I also managed to keep the route off any significant hills (significant, mind you, by Cuyahoga Valley standards). It’s late season bicycling and I didn’t feel the need to torture anyone unless I’d warned them in advance.
The first half of the ride was with the wind. My route took us along Winchell Road from Aurora into cluster of houses, a church, and a cementary at a crossroads that calls itself Hiram Rapids. I have continued to receive the highest accolades about this road. I discovered it on accident during the aforementioned 63-mile ride. Lightly trafficked, Winchell is generally flat and meanders through farm land and tree lanes until it eventually dead-ends at St. Rt. 700. I wish I would have taken a photo at the cementary in Hiram Rapids; the image of the orange, red, yellow, and browning leaves across the gothic gravestones with the golden rays of the sun seeping through the tree branches awakened the excitement of autumn and Halloween in my body.
Unlike our human lives, the earth’s ending cycling is a lot more theatrical. You cannot dismiss the beautiful blaze of glory in which the leaves depart their short existence. After a spring and summer of green, indistinguishable in color to the leaves on all of the other trees except by shape, each leaf erupts into a powerful orange, yellow, red, amber, purple that sometimes differs in hue even within the same tree. As much as I love the warm weather of summer, autumn’s colorful collage takes my breath away and fills me with an intense adoration for the world we inhabit.
Most of the time, the autumn wind invigorates me. Its destructive force seems to imply that all you need to do is push your problems away forcefully and start over on a clean slate, as nature does each year. The wind moves my hair around me, tickling my scalp seductively, and promises like an inflamed lover to take me somewhere else — to the place where the wind ends, the land where it has blown everything to. The wind is like the people I’m attracted to — impassioned, steadfast, energetic, full with life, and ready to move on to the next great adventure.
To make matters a little more challenging, the route past Hiram was a little more hilly than the route out. Hills plus wind equals a bit of a challenge. I thought about how much easier the ride would be (because, again, it wasn’t as hilly as it could have been) had I done this on a windless day. Many times on this ride, I felt my whole bike quake and I pictured myself being blown sideways off the road, wheels lifted above the pavement before slamming into the ground, as though some giant invisible hand just pushed me aside.
Out of Mantua was a little bit rolling. We stopped a few times to collect our riders. Then, we went down Diagonal for a little bit (this is the same Diagonal I use on my Stow-Streetsburo-Kent loop I do from my house) to Barlett. Barlett to Page, and then basically ending up on Frost Road. This was probably one of my bad routing decisions as Frost is congested and has those annoying rain gutters on each side of the road which a rider can easily slide into and catch a tire on when trying to get back out of it. This is exactly what happened to me in Colorado when I had my first of two bike accidents that required me to be removed from the scene via an ambulance. That incident earned me stitches by my left eyebrow.
A good ride is one in which everyone returns unharmed. Despite two chain-popping incidents and the aforementioned flat tire, the ride was largely without incident. It was a sunny day and I got a good workout in… before going home to watch the Indians nose-dive in game six of the ALCS. But I won’t bore you with another diatribe about that!