51.1 mi / 11.6 mph / 348 ft. climbing
Home: Quality Inn and Suites
We were up at 6am, and on the road before 8am, a highly-efficient start for us. The empty farm roads continued, as did more drafting, though this time the wind was coming more from our right side, so Rett being behind and further out into the road is somewhat less-comfortable.
But then we hit the NCIT (North Coast Inland Trail), taking us southeast for 13 miles on a straight, flat, smooth-paved rail trail. Nearly empty (because why would anyone be riding this trail in this still low-population area that doesn’t really connect any major attractions?), and with decent tree-boundaries providing wind cover, it was a perfect way for at least us to put down some miles and progress from point to point.
We needed to head as far south as Fremont to once again find a bridge crossing, this time over the Sandusky River, with the first non-Interstate bridge coming more than 10 miles upstream from the river mouth. After that, we headed slightly back northeast, which meant that our crosswind turned into a tailwind, and really helped us pump up our speed with Rett once again able to cash out the energy she had been able to store up in the first half.
Perhaps the least pleasant part of the day was seeing Confederate flags in two different places (the fact that Ohio was obviously part of the Union in the Civil War makes it even harder for anyone in 2022 to argue that the flags represent anything besides overt pride-in-racism). Those make the “Fuck Biden” signs, of which we also saw plenty, seem almost mild in comparison. It made me remember the group of four black kids we saw yesterday, playing in the driveway of their rural house and waving as we rode by. The simple unusualness of being a non-white kid in such a place must add enough isolating difficulties to their lives, and now on top of that, leave them without even any commiseration in the face of such bald hatred.
Lunch was at the edge of a cornfield, where we needed to set up our bikes as a windbreak behind us so that we could sit in our chairs in relative peace. As we were leaving, we saw a deer go sprinting across the road, across the field and into the woods. I’ve seen walking deer, hopping deer, and bounding deer, but I don’t feel like I’ve ever seen one running at full-bore, and it was kind of shocking how fast it could cover distance when it wanted to.
At the multi-level, inside-entry Quality Inn on the outskirts of Sandusky, we got a perfect room: first floor, and right at the end, so we could bring our bikes into the side door and then straight into our room. There was rain in the evening forecast, and it had been five days without a roof, so a motel felt worthwhile. I rode out to the Taco Bell on the other side of the highway (suddenly overwhelmed by a chaotic hive of suburban shopping centers, unexpected after our almost-entirely rural approach on the south side of US 2), only to find not just the dining room closed, but the entire restaurant (until later that evening), presumably due to the continuing shortage of workers willing to take bad, low-paying jobs. Good news for the economy of the area, but bad news for us; luckily a Wal-Mart across the road could provide frozen Chinese meals that we could heat up in our microwave.