Day 7: Copley to Youngstown

Today was a real mental test of mind over pain. The knee problems mentioned in my last report worsened. The day started out in rain. What more could I ask for?

As I began the ride, my knee felt a little stiff, but it was manageable. I was in home territory so I felt comfortable with the roads, knowing what lay ahead, including the pit of water I knew would be at the bottom of Sand Run Road. I warned everyone I could about it so that they would not go speeding down the road only to hydroplane in what was sure to be high water. However, it turned out the road was closed and the part of the road where the water was gushing was blocked off. We had to climb onto the limestone hiking path to get around the river of water and then ride to the other side. A lot of people got flats right after this point. Gatorskins rock — I had no problems.

After breakfast with Michael and Randy, I headed off on the shorter route (70 miles), which involved a climb up Theiss. Sure seemed tougher to climb than it had a couple weeks ago when I climbed on a Thursday night ABC ride. Additionally, when I got to the end of it, I realized my knee was really hurting. The next several miles down Bath Road to Graham were extremely painful. But there was no drug store (that I knew of) along the way where I could purchase a full knee brace. I resolved to continue on the route to Kent where I figured I’d eventually run into one.

This involved several miles on the rolling stretch of bike path between Silver Lake and Kent. As I turned onto Middlebury Road in Kent, I had a mental breakdown right before a really easy hill where the pain in my knee was throbbing so bad that I started to cry–mostly I was crying because I was afraid I was going to have to sag out of the ride only 15 miles in, but I was also crying because of the pain each little climb caused my knee.

Finally, I got myself composed and continued on to Route 59 where the route, thankfully, turned down 43–right past a CVS and a Walgreens. I stopped into Walgreens and purchased a knee brace and a bottle of ibrophin which I promptly took. At first, the knee brace only seemed to help moderately. I had to climb out of Kent on Summit Road, which is a big hill, but I forced myself to press on. I figured I could push on for the next 10 miles and see how I feel. I did not want to give up on this ride.

Fortunately, I figured out that I needed to gear really low on all the hills. Therefore, bumps I would normally have taken in my middle ring I now had to take in my granny gear. I spun a lot to try to maintain some semblence of speed. By mile 35 in Edinburg, I resolved to push through this ride. I decided I would ride slow and take it at my pace but that, damn it, I was going to finish this thing. I’d come so far, I couldn’t give up now.

This attitude resulted in me pushing forward non-stop. I only stopped to grab an occasional picture, more water, and once at McD’s to grab two cheeseburgers which I wolfed down. I knew that if I stopped to rest for any length of time, I would end up quitting. I took more ibprofin and pushed on. Pretty soon, it seemed as if my knee had numbed enough to be tolerable.

I was on my own all day as Michael and Randy took the 100 mile route. Probably a good thing because I would have held them back I was so slow. And because it would have been so easy for me to sag out when by myself, there is something to be said, I think, of my emotional and mental stamina. I won’t even let myself bail on myself.

The only thing that sucked about being alone is the portion through the ghetto of Youngstown. It was a little dicey in spots. One road along the route contained houses that all had their windows knocked out. Ikes!! (I was told later that I hadn’t even seen the true ghetto).

I was glad to see Youngstown State University ahead, even if it was uphill. I climbed slowly and got there with a sigh of relief. I’d made it. Yeah, my leg was very stiff and sore when I removed the knee brace. But I’d made the 70 mile haul anyway. It is completely true that I have to be in really bad shape to drop out of a ride. I hope this survival attitude continues to get me through everything in life. I’ve always said that I excel at suffering. Though, I do seem to grumble a lot about it.

Tomorrow is just 32 miles. It will be uphill. My goal is, if anything, to make it to the PA border. Then my mission is considered complete. But I hope to finish this out so that I don’t hate myself the rest of the year. I only hope that I didn’t ruin my climbing leg for the rest of the season. Right now, my right leg is basically along for the ride as my left leg has switched to doing all the work. I am so frustrated I could cry. I thought I was invincible. I’ve never had knee trouble before. This os very disheartening…

Anyway, I’m off to the beer tent to drown my sorrows in crappy beer and reflect on the good things that happened this week. Ice my knee and put the brace back on. Good grief, I’m a cripple.

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Day 6: Loudenville to Copley

Today was not as painful as I anticipated. I actually got quite comfortable with the dull ache in my legs and worked with it. Up more hills. Yesterday’s hilly hell made today seem rather easy. Funny how a really hilly segment of a bike route can put everything in perspective.

Today was much more pleasant with 70-degree weather and general cloud cover all day to keep the heat from getting the better of us. We rode from Loundenville through a lot of scenic unknown places and ended up In Funk (yes. really). Then to Wooster and lots of familiar ground through Medina.

Had ice cream at Hartzler’s in Wooster–Mint Chocolate Chip. Lunch at the Buehler’s cafe in Medina to finish on the first steep, then rolling, Ridgewood Rd to end at 70 miles at the Copley High School.

Mars Dad kindly traded my other tent for my structurally unsound one, and then whisked Michael and I away in his luxurious (because we didn’t have to ride our bikes) taxi for dinner and beer at On Tap in Fairlawn… Good beer, at last! It was fun watching everyone else walk or ride the two miles to Fairlawn. For one night, we had it easy!

The odor of Icy Hot permeates my tent as I am having bad pain in my right knee. Bought a runner’s brace at Dick’s; hope it helps. I’ve never had problems with my knees before–a testament to the understated difficulty of the route to Loudenville.

Hoping for good weather tonight and to Youngstown (no t-storms). Not planning to do the optional century. At this moment.

Day 5: Millersport to Loudenville

It all began with the sound of a single rain drop falling on the top of my tent.

Splat.

Then: splat, splat a minute later. Splat-splat. Splat-splat-splat.

Splatsplatsplatsplatsplatsplatsplatsplatsplatsplat….

And the rain began. I figure I’m good; I’m in a tent. This tent survived a torential monsoon one time in Port Clinton. All is good.

Wrong. An hour later, I feel water splat-splatting on my nose. And another. And I realize my mattress is wet at one corner. I get out my flash light and I note that there is a very large puddle in my tent. Stuff is getting wet. I realize that evacuation is necessary. In two trips, I move the contents of my tent to the high school and sleep in the hall.

That is how my day began… My ride started in the rain and lasted 60 miles of the 73. Through steep uphills and downhills, yielding wet squeaky brakes.

All I can say is that I survived, whining aloud and in my head. I hate rain The Peppermint ice cream at Velvet Ice Cream helped only temporarily at mile 32. Chilled me before we started climbing again.

Legs tired. Pride scarred on the one hill I walked and shouldn’t have–Blacksnake Road. But I am still in the game. Though I’m stuck in the community gym.

Tomorrow: 69 miles to Copley. Anyone want to pick us up and take us to Wolf Creek? Dis girl hasn’t had a decent wine all week. Mostly cheap beer. =(

At least go to my house and bring me my other tent? No? Hmmph.

4am newsflash

Apparently my tent is not as structurally sound as it should be. The rains came and a lake formed in my tent. had to relocate all my stuff to the hall of the high school. Nice.

Guess it’s time to retire hubby’s old tent… In retrospect, I should have brought my other one. It’s bigger and newer.

Day 4: Grove City to Millersport

Today we played tourist. We gladly passed the turn off to the long route–88 miles–In preference for the 52 mile route. It was nice to ride a casual pace on sore muscles and stop in the towns along the way.

First up: Ashville and the Ohio Small Town Museum which contained an eclectic mix of antiquties from both Ohio past (and particularly Ashville). The neatest was the Jetson-Looking futurist traffic light that was designed by a town resident and it also was in use there for years. Ahead of it’s time they say. Even better, they got James Earl Jones to record the little dialog describing its history. Really!

Next up: Slate Run Living Historical Museum. Much like Hale Farm near my home, this park contains a farm set up in the style of an 1800s farm. I had a blast looking at the animals (except the pigs whose pens I could not rid my nose of the smell of for miles after we left). It was worth the extra four miles round trip it added to our day.

Lastly, we lunched in Canal Winchester (where sadly there are no longer reminents of a canal). We went to the Barbershop Museum where the curators gave us all kinds of fascinating (and scary) information about barbers and their tools of the past. Which included knives for bloodletting. Yeah.

Millersport is on the shores of Buckeye Lake. Surprisingly quaint. I had an all-berry smoothie at Weldons Ice Cream Factory in lieu of fattening ice cream.

Tomorrow: 70 miles to Loudenville. Expect some hills. And 70% chance of rain. It’s gonna catch up with us eventually. Baaah!

Day 3: Springfield to Grove City

Don’t say I told you so. But, yes, I did end up doing the century route after much teasing from Randy (and some from Michael). Apparently all you have to do to get me to do something really stupid is question my “manhood” as a cyclist. Throw down the gauntlet, and I always am there to pick it up.

Yes, I am in pain.

But I am glad I did it. It was another sunny day, albeit it sweat-drenchingly hot, spared only by a pretty forceful wind in some directions. The wind was both our enemy and our salvation.

We got to watch a plane crop-dusting some field which I got a great picture of. Saw more of places in Ohio that I never knew existed. Empty roads in the middle of nowhere. I rode about 20 miles with some women from Maine who we met on the bus. I chatted and rode for quite some time with Jill. A real fun group–we keep taking pictures of each other whenever we meet up.

Today I had a chocolate malt at Graeters in Grove City–made with chocolate ice cream AND syrup. Yum. Probably skipping ice cream tomorrow.

Tomorrow: “Rest Day” of 52 miles to Millersport. Regular route… No optional 86 miles for me.

Day 2: Eaton to Springfield

Beautiful day for cycling–80 degrees and sunny. A little hot but I’m not going to complain as it wasn’t raining or t-storming on my parade. One significant hill outside of Dayton–Burkhart Rd–that was long more than steep with a traffic light right before the top that turned red right as I got there (and, of course, after Michael had made it through).

We were woken last night at 2am to idiots riding dirt bikes (the motorized kind) on the field where are tents were. “Hick entertainment” claims one of our cycling companions who said he used to ride them too. The bad part: the a-holes ran over one girl’s bike! Fortunately, it did not cause too much damage other than the victim’s feeling of having been violated by idoits who dont respect and have hurt her “baby.” I completely understand… I’d be incensed.

In case you’re wondering, I skipped ice cream last night but enjoyed some today at Young’s Jersey Dairy–Espresso Chocolate Chunk in a chocolate-dipped waffle bowl. If you’re going to go down, go down GOOD and HARD.

Enjoyed watching Lance stand in the 3rd place spot on the Tour de France podium. Young’s had the last stage of the Tour on for us as we ate. Yay, Lance!

Tomorrow’s ride: 52 or 100 miles to Grove City. Yes, I’m now tempted since 52 miles is pretty easy and now I’m warmed up and I could have done more today. It depends on the weather and my mood tomorrow.

Day 1: Optional Ride to Indiana

I got up at 6:50am, ate the all-too-tasty Kashi Island Vanilla shredded wheat cereal, kissed the kitties goodbye and fretted over them like a mother, and then took off for New Castle, PA to register for XOBA.

Great exciting atmosphere at registration. Met up with Michael, Randy, Tony and Michelle. Spent three hours on the bus to Eaton. I met some ladies from Maine and we chatted about our biking adventures. I frightened them with tales of my past sky-diving adventures…

After dinner and briefing by Director Walt, the five of us dodged out of the evening program for a 20 mile round trip to the Indiana border. No sign of welcome to pose by–just the road sign for State Line Road. Close enough? We think so!

Route was gently rolling. Farms smells, corn, black cows. We got chased by an Ohio dog on the state line. All in a easy day.

Tomorrow: 58 miles to Wittenburg!