48.7 mi / 12.2 mph / 494 ft. climbing
Home: 1950s-styled AirBNB apartment
Even in our darkened motel room, we were awake before our 8am alarm. But there was no rush, since we had some of the forecasted morning rain to wait out (part of the reason we stayed under a roof in the first place). The continental breakfast was pretty weak, especially until more waffle batter turned up, but hey, it was an included breakfast, which is pretty rare in motels in the COVID era.
After a few miles, we hit US 6, and the coast of Lake Erie. It also marked the return to roads we had traveled eight years ago, after several days of exploring different (but parallel) paths. I had initially expected to do a nearly turn-for-turn re-creation of that tour, and had not intentionally deviated from that path, but now finally would be a chance to do a straight comparison.
For 40 miles we followed the edge of the lake. In the western reaches, it seemed like most people on the left side of the road didn’t even realize that they had lakefront property. The houses were so modest, and the attempts at tourist-attraction so minimal, that the road may have just been an exurban highway through Kansas, rather than the border of a Great Lake. Sure, Lake Erie is probably the least-Great, but it’s impressive how much its winter chill must counter the draw any summer recreation and the 180 degrees of never-neighbors.
But eastward movement brought gradual increases in house size, quality, and surely, value. Despite that, and despite the US Highway designation, traffic remained light and comfortable most of the way, which is surprising since there obviously aren’t any alternate routes to the north to offload the vehicles!
The road surface did get pretty bad once we crossed into Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County, which forced us to ride more out in the road and make it more difficult for vehicles to pass us on the narrow two-lanes, but still, drivers remained safe and respectful. Except for a UPS driver who passed too closely and cut back in front too soon. When we caught up to him again at his (road-blocking) next stop, I called out “hey, next time, give us some more space please!” Once he comprehended what we were yelling, he responded with a derisive laugh: “Oh, I like amusement when I work!” Ok, I guess we now need to be super-wary of this asshole now, because it seems he wouldn’t particularly mind if he killed us. Our next two encounters proved that we hadn’t just misinterpreted his meaning, but at least our caution kept us safe.
There were some pretty serious storms popping up on the radar all around us, but despite a few sprinkles here and there, we also were extremely lucky to avoid any damage from the weather too.
As we got off US 6 near our destination, we rode for a couple miles with another bike tourer, the first one we had seen in this segment (which makes sense now that we had finally joined up with the ACA Northern Tier route). Never got his name, but he was doing Wisconsin to New Hampshire, so not too different from what we’re doing.
Lakewood, the suburb that borders the western edge of Cleveland, looked like a cool witchy/hippie neighborhood as we rolled through on bike-laned Madison Avenue. So it was entirely appropriate that the AirBNB Rett had found for us was a really cool 1950s-styled apartment, above a coffee/ice cream shop, and a few blocks down from The BottleHouse Brewery and Mead Hall.
I made a morning run to the Giant Eagle grocery store, so we could do our big vegetable roast for dinner, but that was the extent of our excursions for the day. Otherwise we just hung out in our stylish, well-appointed, and comfortable apartment. The side-entry second floor layout on the edge of a Midwest major city reminded me very much of my brother and sister-in-law’s first apartment together in Chicago. Though this one did a rarely seen but obvious-in-retrospect full lean-in to its 1950s origins. If you’ve got 50s-era cabinets and counters (and perhaps the building itself), instead of ripping it all out, why not indulge and augment it? Especially now since you can apparently buy new Chinese retro-looking appliances!
It had only been three days since our last day off, but since that had been a camping and museum-visiting day off, it didn’t quite give us the veg-in-front-of-the-TV rest that we could still use, especially since our 145-mile three-day total is a push we haven’t done since last September. It also rained fairly heavily both nights that we were there, so that further justification for the money and time spent is always nice to have.