51.1 mi / 12.3 mph / 1198 ft. climbing
Home: Sauder Village Campground
We were up at 6am, and on the road by 8:10am, impressive work for us, especially since our bodies still think of it as 7:10am. On the way out of our Pokagon campground we now knew to take the bike path to the park entrance, which was shorter and much flatter than the road route we took in. But then the bike path we decided to continue on outside of the park added a big unnecessary hill vs. the road. Ugh, bike paths, with one lane you giveth, and with the other you taketh away. And there was still a decent amount of backtracking to do though before we got to Wal-Mart. Getting in, navigating the store, and then getting out is always a big time-suck, but once we got back onto the country farm roads east of Angola, we had a big tailwind for most of the rest of the day, pushing us up to one of our highest average speeds.
Our impressive and exciting ride across the border of our 6th US state, Ohio, was once again denied the recognition and honor we so richly deserve. Though I suppose given the country’s political divisions, we should probably be grateful that it is still possible to cross from state to state without anyone noticing or caring!
As we attempted to skirt the southern edge of Montpelier, OH, Montpelier had other ideas. A “Road Closed” sign directed us on a detour back north into town for a mile, up and down two tall overpasses to cross a giant railroad trunk, and then a mile back south onto our original route. If we had known about it, I simply would have delayed the southward jog in our mostly-eastward route until after the detour, avoiding the two extra miles, so it’s just frustrating that these things are always a surprise. I even scouted on ahead (because sometimes “closed” roads are passable by bicycle), but active construction and no sidewalks made it look impossible. And then the final frustration is the poorly-labeled detour not letting us know when it is safe to turn back towards the road we were on. So we did an extra mile on the busier highway just to make sure that we wouldn’t get screwed again.
There aren’t a lot of parks on these middle-of-nowhere farm roads, so it took us a while to find a lunch spot, but finally we stopped near a grain elevator, which, despite still being private land, at least feels “public” enough for us to set up our chairs in the shade of a tree and relax off of the bikes of a while.
When we were leaving, the tension bolt fell out of my bike seat! On my Brooks B-17, this is a bolt under the nose of the saddle that you tighten occasionally to keep the leather saddle from sagging too much. Without it, the leather saddle doesn’t even really connect to the frame at the front, so that obviously makes riding difficult! Upon investigation, the head of the good-sized bolt had snapped clean off, but luckily I could sort of seat the remaining shaft of the bolt into a hole on the saddle frame, keeping the whole assembly more-or-less together, at least until I released the tension, by standing up, or stopping, at which point I would need to reach under and reposition the bolt. Certainly not ideal, and it kept my butt stuck to my seat more tightly than comfort would dictate, but I was able to muddle through for the rest of the ride.
Near the end, we had to do a couple miles more of southward riding, converting our helpful tailwind into a pretty stiff crosswind that was tough to push forward in. But nothing prepared us for the last quarter mile, when the speed suddenly picked up to at least 40 mph, stopping Rett dead in her tracks in the middle of the road. Restarting under those conditions would have been nearly impossible, and since it was somehow more than just a brief gust, we resigned ourselves to trudging through the gravel-and-grass shoulder for a couple minutes until we reached the left turn that would return that wind to being our friend again.
Our final destination was Sauder Village, a living history museum that has an attached campground. We checked in with our reservation at the hotel, and they assigned us to Site #7. Rett was mad that I didn’t ask if we could get Site #10, the last of the strip of no-privacy tent sites along “Little Lake Erie”, but at least upon arrival we had no neighbors on either side, and we had a nice tree for shade. And electric! And laundry facilities not far away! And super-clean bathrooms/showers (which all of the reviews remark upon)! Private campgrounds usually don’t have the prettiest environments, but it’s good to be reminded that they often have other advantages.
A cool couple from Georgia (of a similar age) showed up at the site next to us, so at least that reduced the chances of partying jerk neighbors by 50%. Then a couple hours later, a huge Scouting troop descended upon sites #2-5, so we were sure glad to have that child-free buffer between us! We talked a bit to the poor solo guy on the other end at site #1 (the Scouts had taken over his parking space), who was riding rail trails in the area.
We walked back to “The Barn” for an All-American all-you-can-eat buffet dinner (perfect for touring cyclists, but unfortunately for their health, the vast majority of other diners were clearly not touring cyclists). We ran into our Georgian neighbors there too, and they got me off the hook by mentioning that they did ask for Site #10, but were definitely denied by the host. They also recommended the Cheeseburger Soup that they had dared to try (with some knowing embarrassment), and we both confirmed it was far tastier and far less-disgusting than in had any right to be.
After a sunset lap around the lake, Rett went over to the gazebo with her phone to do a video Friday night Happy Hour with her girlfriends (a big reason we found this place to stay at for two nights), while I worked in the last of the light to try to figure out why the gears on her bike were jittering around like drug-deprived junkies.