Tuesday 9th to Wednesday 10th August – Stages 77 & 78.
Tuesday 9th August – Perrysburg to Norwalk (Stage 77).
We decided on a 2 day stopover (rather than the usual single rest day) in Perrysburg because in addition to being a relatively cheap place to have a break, we needed to plot the remainder of our route to the East Coast. We made the most of the couple of days rest & for once didn’t do any sightseeing – it was a rare opportunity to rest the legs! We found an ideal little restaurant just across the road from our motel, where we ate a couple of nights & enjoyed a relaxing beer.
The big news is we now have a specific location to aim for & a date to arrive there by – we’ve chosen to finish in Brunswick, Maine & we have to be there no later than 1st September. We have an Amtrak train booked on 2nd September to take us to The Big Apple for some rest, relaxation & shopping therapy!!! Our return flight to the UK is now booked for Tuesday 6th September & I’ll be back in Bristol on the 7th.
In some ways it’s sad that the end is in sight, but our adventure has to finish at some point & most importantly, we’ll have seen everything (& a whole lot more) that we set out to see & experience. Sean & I couldn’t see any value in us riding to places for the sake of extending the trip. All good things must come to an end & Brunswick by 1st September looks like the best time & place for that to happen.
We’ve built in a couple of contingency days in our route, so we may well be in Brunswick between 30th August & 1st September. Now lets carry on enjoying our adventures on the bike!!
The weather forecast said to expect light showers today, but I watched Michael Fish say just before The Great Storm of 1987 “Earlier on today, apparently, a woman rang the BBC and said she heard there was a hurricane on the way. Well, if you’re watching, don’t worry, there isn’t!”. Anyway, here’s a couple of videos of what I watched from my balcony yesterday & why I’m a little nervous about today….
We left Perrysburg at 9am under overcast skies with everything crossed we wouldn’t experience anything worse than showers. Once we’d left town, we joined the familiar long straight roads with their intersections every mile. The first 38 miles of today’s ride only involved 90 degree turns – it’s out there now, I won’t mention it again in today’s post!
Our first treat of the day was watching what I now think is a crop duster doing his thing over a couple of fields directly in front of us. At the time I thought it was a pilot just enjoying himself, but we both think we saw the same plane later in the afternoon about 50 miles away & that one was definitely dusting crops.
Our second treat of the morning came when we stopped at Ideal Bakery in Gibsonburg, after about 26 miles. Tracy was running the shop & she was really friendly & interested in our trip. She also shared some of her travels to date, which is always good to hear. Recipes have been handed down for 100 years & the shop is now owned by the 4th generation of the Schell family.
The bakery also stars in the film Gibsonburg, which is based on a true story where a high school baseball team has a regular season record of 6 wins vs 17 losses (including a 13 game losing streak), yet wins 8 games on the bounce in the post-season to win the state championship – the first team to do so with a losing record.
I’ve included a couple of the newspaper articles that are framed in the shop – I could have sat there for a couple of hours reading them all & eating more of their cakes & pastries!!! In the end I stopped after the cherry turnover & chocolate chip cookie, both of which were delicious.
Kathi & John – if you read this, please could you also let Tracy know how much we appreciated her time & interest when we stopped by.
Gibsonburg also came up trumps with its water tower – a unique colour that appears to also attract the turkey vultures. In addition to the birds roosting on the water tower, we saw a solo bird on a telegraph pole & just across the road were 3 more (so a committee) perched on a barn roof.
3 treats in very rapid succession & there was more to follow. When I saw purple flowers calling out for an action shot I gave it all I had & managed not to fall off as I demonstrated my “look, no hands” skills! We also spotted our first non-ninety degree corner of the day & then soon after saw ospreys & egrets fishing as we rode into Fremont. This was our 2nd Fremont, as it’s also where we saw the water-skiers when we were in Wisconsin.
Fremont is also where we picked up the Northern Coastal Inland Trail (NCIT). It runs for 65 miles in total from Toledo to Elyria on the abandoned Toledo, Norwalk & Cleveland Railway. We rode the 13 mile paved section from Fremont to Bellevue & had the trail almost to ourselves as we passed through wooded areas & farmland.
As we neared the end of the paved section we came across a pumpkin field – a reminder that although we’re still in August, Fall is only just around the corner! I missed a turning in Bellevue, so it took us a bit longer than it should have to get across town. Once again, good came from this error, as we arrived at the railroad crossing just in time to watch the freight train pass through.
This was also where we picked up an unpaved section of the NCIT – the surface varied between crushed limestone, mud (which was a bit soft after yesterday’s storms) & gravel. I’ve come to really enjoy riding on the off-road trails, now that I’ve learned how to handle a fully loaded bike off-road. The 10 mile section took us all the way to Norwalk, where we were staying this evening.
It was another epic day in the saddle, where we stayed dry – the forecast rain never arrived! We had dinner at Bob Evans Family Restaurant & I had a really good portion of fish & chips, followed by a delicious slice of apple pie, topped with caramel sauce & whipped cream. The perfect end to the day.
Stage Stats – 71 miles, 384 feet of climbing. Highlights included a crop sprayer exhibition, plenty of different birdlife & the Ideal Bakery stop in Gibsonburg!
Wednesday 10th August – Norwalk to Lakewood (Stage 78).
It was another overcast start to the day as we set off from Norwalk. I saw signs for Berlin Heights, Birmingham, Peru & Brighton, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when I saw we were going to Milan. It’s the birthplace of Thomas A Edison, inventor of the incandescent lightbulb, motion picture camera & the phonograph. He’s also credited with improving the telegraph & telephone.
We continued North on relatively quiet roads as we headed towards Huron, which nestles on the South shore of Lake Erie. We’ll be tracking the lakeshore for the next 5 days as we make our way ever Eastwards – fingers crossed we find something interesting at the end of the lake!
We’re following the Lake Erie Circle Tour & Coastal Ohio Trail, both of which are road routes (with one or two sections of cycle paths). I’ll briefly mention that this section as far as our coffee stop included long sections of roadworks & relatively busy roads – never anything to be concerned by, but after 15 weeks of having the road to ourselves, we had to concentrate a bit more.
Having said that, we still found a few overlooks & turnouts where we could get good views of the lake. We also saw a group of birds perched in a tree – they had the shape of a heron or egret, but I have to confess I have no idea what they actually are. I just enjoyed stopping & watching them.
Our views varied every time we saw the lake. Sometimes it would be a sandy beach, then it would be a rocky outcrop, then next time it might be an outlet from a small river.
Lake Erie is the fourth largest of the five Great Lakes by surface area, but the smallest if measured by volume, with a maximum depth of 210 feet (62 feet average depth). However, it’s still the eleventh largest lake in the world by volume! It’s 241 miles long (East – West) & 57 miles wide, with a coastline of 872 miles.
While Lake Michigan takes 99 years for water to leave via the Mackinaw Straits, water only stays in Lake Erie for 6 years. Lake Erie has more consumable fish than the 4 other Great Lakes combined!!
Lake Erie also has its own monster – Bessie is her name. Legend has it that she’s a mutation of missing cows from the town of Lorain in 1894, or more likely she’s a large sturgeon, which can grow up to 20 feet & weigh 300 pounds. A bit like her Trans-Atlantic cousin Nessie, everyone loves a good Lake Monster story!
Where was I? Oh yes, heading along the shore past Beulah Beach, where I spotted an osprey flying over a park. By now, the grey skies were beginning to give way to sections of blue.
Arriving at Vermillion, which proudly declares itself to be Ohio’s Best Beach Town, we saw a few of the houses & boats which certainly suggest Vermillion has money, even if it’s lacking in humility! Roadworks were a theme along this stretch of road too, but at least there wasn’t much in the way of traffic.
We were heading to Lorain for coffee & cake, passing the city beach & crossing the river on the way! The shipyards closed in 1981, after the William J DeLauncey was launched. It was & remains the largest freighter on the Great Lakes at 1,014 feet in length. The fourth photo below also includes one of the first boats to be built at the shipyard in 1898, the 450 foot Superior City which was the largest steel ship built on freshwater.
The building itself has been renovated & is now an event centre, with a coffee shop – another gem of a find, I could decide between a cherry Danish & an apple & caramel slice, so had them both!
Throughout the day, views of the lake were quite rare, I’ve probably included a photo from most of the places I stopped. As with Lake Michigan, shorefront property is highly prized & sought after. I’ve included a couple of the smaller places that I could see, there were many others, hidden away behind gates & protective shrubbery.
I stopped at Bay Village as there was what appeared to be a lighthouse. It transpired that it was in fact a pump house from when the park was in private ownership. It enabled water to be taken from the lake for a swimming pool many years ago! It’s now a concession stand selling food & drink.
This was also the first beach to offer views of the city of Cleveland way off in the distance – hopefully I’ll get some decent photos tomorrow.
We cycled the final 5 miles to our motel, had a rest & got ready for dinner – a small little Italian pizza / pasta place that fitted the bill. When I ordered the rigatoni with sauce & Italian sausage, I was expecting it to be cut up! While some people (Andreas) would seriously mark down the food because of presentation, I’m guided solely by taste & it was a good 9 out of 10. We toasted another great day exploring a Great Lake!
Stage Stats – 56 miles, 823 feet of climbing. Our first view of our second Great Lake.