Monthly Archives: September 2014

Ride to Chatham

Yesterday I had the best ride ever.  I got up and for once had nothing planned until the evening. The weather was cool and clear and a perfect day to be on the bike.  The wife went off to work and I pulled out the map.  What small town close by hadn’t I gone to.  Chatham hit me right away.  I play poker at a house off Smith Rd. in Medina and Chatham is south of that.  Smith Rd. looked like a great place to ride so off I went.

I’m always surprised at how quickly I hit farmland when I leave my house.  All you see are soybeans and corn a quarter mile away.

Soy Bean Field

As a rule I try to avoid Route 18 and Route 301 as there is heavy traffic and the speeds are quite high.  Nevertheless I used both of them for a short bit.  I turned south at Penfield onto Route 301.  A guy in a mid-sixties corvette buzzed me coming very close.  As he passed I could see the smirk on his face in the mirror.  Not very bright as the car is very recognizable and I do go to car shows occasionally as I own an MG Midget.  I wonder what he would think if I walked close by his car at a show with a bunch of keys hanging from my belt?  Don’t think I’d do it but then again…..

South of Penfield Route 301 calms down and there is less traffic.  I saw the familiar barn on the corner of Smith Rd and Route 301 and headed west.

another old barn

What a day for a ride!  This was the first ride in a long time that I was taking it easy and taking a lot of pictures.  Felt great.  This part of Smith Rd. was heavily wooded and just ahead was a branch of The Black River.

black river

I felt strong and the road ahead was straight and easy.  Then suddenly it seemed as though I was going slightly uphill for miles.  Just kept going on and on.  I’m in a lot better shape than before so it was no big deal but it was surprising.

long road with gentle slope

Once on Smith Rd. I thought about taking it all the way to Medina but thought again.  It was a bigger city and I’d prefer to go there when I was going to stop for a meal.  Instead a couple miles before Medina I headed south and then took a right on Rt. 162.  There was traffic but everyone gave me a lots of room.  Nature was everywhere around me.  I saw countless buzzards and hawks.  I scared a groundhog into running almost into my wheel.  It wasn’t long before I was in Chatham.

welcome to chatham

Chatham didn’t have much but more than many small towns that I’ve been to.  I found this online.

Chatham Township is located near the southwest corner of Medina County and is the second largest township in Medina County, measuring approximately 16,876 acres or 26.37 square miles. Approximately 5500 acres of land is deciduous forest, while over 6000 acres of land is currently being used as cropland. These totals account for 68% of Chatham Township’s land.

I found a general store and two monuments.  The first one was kitty corner from the general store and the other was in a park across from the store.

monument 1 chatham


chatham general store

I was beat from the constant uphill so I sat on a bench in the park and relaxed.  A lot of traffic passes through town as it is on the corner of Route 83 and Route 162.  I recovered quickly as I have finally learned my lesson and ate before I rode.  Plus I’d been drinking my water.

monument 3

monument 2

park and general store

I left Chatham with expectations of some more climbing but almost immediately it was all downhill.  It was exhilarating.  I was riding between 22 and 25 miles per hour for a couple miles and able to maintain just below that for a while after that.  Soon I was in Spencer.  I needed a break so I sat on the steps of an old building and drank some water.  I looked around and saw a sign that told me I went to Chatham two weeks too early.

chatham festival

Oh well.  Here is a picture that I missed on my last trip to Spencer. The town hall/historical society.

Spencer town hall

It was time to head home and get ready for the poker game so I headed north.

ohio barn

I was tired but felt great.  I took my time, taking more photographs and breaks than usual.  I ended up going 38.8 miles and it was a perfect ride.

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Posted by on September 26, 2014 in Uncategorized


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A Sleight Change in Direction

For the past few months I’ve been obsessed with a site called  It has journals of people who tour on bicycles, both in America and around the world.  I originally read it because I’m fascinated by Standing Stones.  I followed a few people touring the Outer Hebrides and visiting the Stone Circle and Row of Callanish.  I read journals of people touring the United States coast to coast and they were all interesting.  Everyone had different personalities and different adventures.  Some were far more eloquent than others.  Then I found Jeff Arnim.

Jeff traveled across the country all by himself on a bike from Key West to Washington state.  His journals were incredibly well written and the photography is as good.  If you read this journal you will want to start touring.  It had a profound effect on me.

He tried again in 2013 and this one was a disaster.  He rode east from San Diego and was defeated before he made it.  It’s still a great read but if you read this one first you will probably swear off touring.

As we speak he is doing another tour from Oregon to California.  It’s interesting to read new entries in the journal in real time.

Getting back to the changes for me.  Reading his journals has forced me to reexamine my writing.  I want to do a better job of writing and sharing my experiences.  I’ll be upping my game but both in the narrative and in the photographs. You’ll see a lot more photographs. If it’s not your thing then scroll down.

I’m going for a ride tomorrow.  I’ll let you know how it went.

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Posted by on September 25, 2014 in Uncategorized


My First Bike


When I was fourteen my mother remarried a man named Don. I read long ago that evil can’t enter your home unless it is invited. In this case it was true.

A few months after the marriage I came home from school and saw a brand new ten-speed bicycle in the driveway. I walked in and asked about the bike and Don came out to look. We walked over to it and you could tell it was brand new. It was the most beautiful machine I had ever seen. He told me to take it for a ride. I told him that it was new and didn’t want to mess it up. He laughed and I shouldn’t worry as it was mine. I looked at him with surprise and he said a boy of my age should have a bike so he picked it up for me.

Part of the surprise came from the way he treated the family. We had very little money and when he moved in refused to pay for anything. That included utilities and food. After a few weeks of that my mother refused to feed him so he bought his own groceries that were separate from the rest of the family. When he married my mother I expected things to get better. I was wrong.

I got on the bike and took off down the road. I knew how to ride but had never had my own bike. The bikes that I had ridden had been three-speeds with coaster brakes. This was the real thing. It didn’t take long before I had the gears down. I couldn’t believe the pure joy, exhilaration and freedom I felt.

Every day as soon as I got out of school I’d be on the bike. I’d ride until dark, spiraling farther and farther from home. There was a long stretch by the junior high school that I would use as a time trial. I’d push myself to see if I could beat my previous time. I would fly down the road and every day I got a little stronger and a little faster. Whenever I was on the bike I was happy and free.

It had been nearly a month since I got the bike when I came home and it was gone. It wasn’t in the garage and I ran into the house and told Don the bike had been stolen. He got up, followed me to the garage and told me it wasn’t stolen. He said since I didn’t appreciate it he sold it to a guy at work. I was devastated. I tried to talk to him but he put his hand up and said, “You don’t appreciate anything. You don’t deserve shit!”

It wasn’t the only time he did anything like that. My mother had always wanted to play the organ and one day while she was at work one was delivered. My mom was overjoyed and every spare minute she was practicing. She was playing simple melodies the first week and by the third there was actual music. It was great that she was finally enjoying herself after so much hardship.

Nearly a month to the day while she was practicing Don walked in and placed a payment book on top of the organ. My mom looked at it and told him she couldn’t afford to pay for it. We barely got by as it was. He said if she didn’t appreciate it then it was going back. I was glad that my mother was at work when the men came to pick up the organ.

After that the few times that he would give anyone in the family anything it was declined. When I was in high school I was taking a drafting class and he came into my room and gave me a complete set of drafting tools. I refused them and told I’d rather flunk out. As soon as I got out of high school I moved out.

I have a great bike now. It is light-years beyond my first bike in technology.  It has a carbon-fiber fork, it’s incredibly light and shifts like a dream but pales in comparison. I get incredible joy when I am riding it and when I have a tailwind or I’m going downhill, I’m fourteen again, happy and free.

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Posted by on September 15, 2014 in Uncategorized


Short Ride to Elyria

I got up this morning and knew I had to get on the bike.  It’s September and I no longer have any excuses.  I’m still getting back into shape so I decided to do a short ride into Elyria, where I was born, and visit my sister.  I got ready and made sure I had both my water bottles and had a small breakfast an hour before (not making the same mistakes from last ride) and was out the door.  As soon as I hit the porch I realized how hot, humid and windy it was.  A part of my wanted to go back into the air conditioning and practice my guitar.  After a few seconds I decided it was important to Harden The F**k Up (H.T.F.U) and get on the bike.

It was very windy and I was able to cruise easily at 20 mph or more.  I drank a lot of water and enjoyed the ride.  People passed and nearly everyone gave me a lot of room.  I got to my sister’s house in record time and had an iced tea and a slice of low-carb pizza.

I owe my sister a great deal.  When my brother and then my mother were dying she helped shoulder much of the responsibility.  I had the time to run people to the doctor or chemo but she did much of the heavy lifting.

After a nice visit I headed back and found the wind that helped me was now in my face.  It was brutal.  I just put my head down and kept pedaling.  I am getting more fit and could feel the difference.  Into the wind I rode between 10 and 12 mph.  That was ok and about four miles from home I took a five-minute break to drink more water and rest.  I got back on the bike and within 100 yards a tan dog appeared and was running alongside my rear wheel.  It wasn’t chasing or any problem, just running beside me.  After a half mile it ran into a yard, then appeared again at my wheel for another half mile.  I didn’t know what to do.  I stopped and tried to shoo it away but I couldn’t get it to leave.  After another half mile I hit a patch of trees blocking the wind and sprinted.  It wasn’t much of a sprint getting up to 16 mph but it was enough.  The dog stopped and a little ways down the road I looked back and it was just standing there looking at me.  Then it turned around and ran back.

The ride was 26.6 miles and was very enjoyable.  I really want to ride every day in September.  It will get easier when the humidity passes and when I drop some more pounds.  The metrics:

Elyria Ride

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Posted by on September 1, 2014 in Uncategorized