From Willoughby I pushed another 70 miles to Lake City, PA!! Finally crossed the border out of Ohio! It took me a week and two back-to-back long days, but I made it on schedule into a beautiful family campground. I was exhausted, but felt accomplished and a bit giddy. I stopped for an encouragement beer in the last town I passed before the border in Conneaut where there was a massive D-Day reenactment. I’m not sure who was more interested in who.
I’m starting to get into more hilly terrain and my legs are asking WHY?!? I don’t mind slow continuous inclines, it’s the steep climbs that get me. Especially with all this weight, there were a few I didn’t think I would make it up. I cranked it into my lowest gear, pushed through and somehow made it to the top and soared down the glorious other side… Only to climb back up again. If my legs are angry now, what will they think when I hit the mountains? I’m learning a lot on this trip. Things about myself, other people, the towns I travel through, and definitely more about self-supported touring and what I really need, what I want, and what I don’t want. I had some anxiety about using my stove because I didn’t test it out before the trip and I’m using unleaded gasoline for the first time. It took me 50 cents to fill it (you can probably imagine the crazy looks I got filling up at the station), and it has lasted me for the last 10 days with plenty still left. Turns out, like many of my anxieties on this trip, it was completely fine and a joy to use! After biking in the heat of the afternoon, I often find myself inside a store buying cold orange juice or Gatorade, a temptation too refreshing to pass up. I also think I’ve been biking too many miles a day and not enjoying the sites and people around enough. I’m doing an awful job at fundraising along the ride. If you’re reading this and you haven’t donated, check out my site bike.climateride.org/participant/alexianan and help me out! Any small amount will help! I’m a third of the way through my ride to Bar Harbor and a third of the way to my fundraising goal of $3,000.
After Lake City I was going to go a short 40 miles to camp just past the border in New York. When pedaling through Erie, PA a motorcyclist pulled up next to me at a stoplight. He asked the usual questions and I told him I was going to camp somewhere just across the border. The light changed and we both continued, and then I saw him turn around. Shortly he was next to me again, riding slowly, and told me his buddy was having a party for his birthday tonight just before the border and I was welcome to come hang out and camp there if I wanted to. He was older and my intuition said he was okay. I asked if I would be safe and he assured me I would be okay and to just stop in for a beer if I wanted to, I was still 20 miles out. For much of those 20 miles (through hills) I debated whether or not I should trust him and go. My instincts kept telling me I was okay but to keep my guard up and just check out the situation.
After rewarding myself with a wine tasting (goodbye corn fields, hello vineyards!) I was about two miles from the border. It would be a shame to pedal through so many vineyards without trying some local wine right? Shortly after mustering up the strength to continue, Santos the biker was waiting in the driveway for me. I pulled in and was soon chatting with some of the most interesting people on my ride so far. Chris lives in a quaint man-shack next to a beautiful old Monestary right on the Lake. After chatting for a while, I determined it was safe and that I would be sincerely missing out if I didn’t camp there. Everyone was so incredibly friendly to me and very curious about my journey. Chris is a very talented musician, his older brother Frank has the voice of an angel, and their friend Slam is a drummer but entertained us with sounds and songs he made up on the spot with Chris on the guitar. A wonderful gal Beth took a liking to me and took me out around town! I enjoyed a fun night with great people and an awesome bonfire in the beach. All because some random biker decided to chat with me on the road in a sketchy part of town. This is exactly the reason why I wanted to come on this adventure. To meet wonderful locals and exchange pieces of our life with one another. I can’t thank them all enough for feeding me, buying me drinks, watching over me, and giving me a free place to camp. I hope to see them again one day.
I’m finally in New York and my legs are starting to warm up to the hills. I’m taking it slow for a while, 30-40 miles a day and will soon be riding with Alvin! In the rush of leaving, I sadly forgot my passport so my dreams of riding in Canada are no more, but that’s okay, there’s always next time. I’m learning to just go with it and enjoy whatever the day brings me. I’m not following my route goals perfectly, but I’m right where I need to be and enjoying every minute. I’ve really enjoyed the change of pace and it’s crazy to think how far I’ve come so far! Even though most people I meet think I’m a bit crazy, not only for riding my bike so far but for being alone, I’ve enjoyed the freedom and time to think. I’ve always been independent and okay with being alone. At the same time, I’m ready to share this experience with someone I love dearly and am looking forward to some company and encouragement. I’ll even get to ride in a car for a bit from Buffalo to Ithaca. I’m so spoiled!!