Joe wanted to ride with us for the first 20 or so miles through downtown as we headed north towards Ohio. Appropriatley he pulled out the old sun beaten jersey he had worn last time we rode and we hit the bike paths. Joe did well to navigate us away from the city with only 4 wrong turns, I had predicted he would make 7. Its a shame to be parting ways again but it wont be for long, Joes turn to visit me next time. You make lots of friends and many good friends through life but only a handful that you know will remain close buddies for life, Joe is one of those.
He had hooked us up with a place to stay in Alliance, Ohio that evening after an 80+ mile slog back on the bikes. We arrived at the house of Bill Morris to find Joe’s dad had driven down from Cleveland to join us for dinner that evening! Bill and Kate had arranged quite a special evening for us inviting friends and local bicycle enthusiasts round for food and drink, they spoilt us with great salad, corn on the cob and grilled chicken! We had a great time talking with everyone, its always good to be able to get advise on the next days ride from locals too. Bill had also arranged for a local news reporter to come over for a short interview, which led to a front page and inside cover spot on the Alliance Review paper. Thanks to Bill and Kate for making it a special evening and the warmest of welcomes to Alliance!
Bill told us to ride out of Alliance via the high school and Glamorgan castle to take in two of Alliance’s landmarks, they were so big we could hardly miss them. The goal for the day was continue north to lake Erie where we would finally join the Northern tier bike route, the cross country trail by adventure cycling whose Transamerica trail I used last time. North-eastern Ohio was still gently rolling but it ended flat amongst corn and soya fields as we hauled within touching distance of the great lake.
Riding to Fremont I wondered whether we would start seeing other touring cyclists now on the Northern Tier. Weather is consistently hot, humid with no rain, its had a huge impact in the US this summer and is always the first talking point with locals. We tell them we get enough rain back home so are glad of the weather but at the same time feel terrible about the many dried out crop fields we have seen and will continue to see for weeks to come as we cross the Americas farming heartland. A nice bike path took us the last stretch from Clyde where we dined in at Lee’s famous recipe chicken and old fashioned chicken place local to the area, fried chicken, tatoes, gravy, slaw, all the good stuff.
We had a casual morning as it was only a 60 mile ride to Grand Rapids and the campground we had picked out for the evening. We stopped by the bike shop in Fremont and talked with the guys about our trip, beer and the olympics. It was a great shop and they even gave Eal some free bontrager bar end plugs as he had lost one and was having some hand issues. It was perfect riding, cranking out 15-20mph most of the way through idyllic farmland under a big hot blue sky. We pulled up right on the river with the place to ourself aside from one RV camper in the far corner, it was primitive with no showers but the lake looked refreshing enough to take a dip and clean off. We piled up the fire wood before scooting back into town to pick up some cold ones to end the evening whilst I studied the panels on my Northern tier maps over and over. Its good to be back on an established route with all directions taken care of, it almost feels like we have just started crossing the country even though we’re already a decent chunk over.