Monday, June 23, 2008

June 23, Special Olympics Bike Ride

Monday. Wapakoneta, Ohio.

Headed out of Decatur, Indiana around 7:00am after a jim-dandy continental breakfast. America's Best Value Inn's get a pair of giant thumbs up. Very nice place to overnight. Eleven miles along Route 33 East brought me back into Ohio. Feels good to see Ohio license plates. Stopped at the Rockford Post Office to send home some excess Quayle souvenirs which were taking up limited space and basically pissing me off. That is never a good thing based on the dearth of available of space on my touring machine, Pigbike.

A little backstory on Pigbike. She is a 1993 Cannondale T-700 I bought back when I was professionally leading bicycle tours. Outfitted with four oversized, custom-made Beckman panniers, a rack pack and handlebar bag, her gross vehicle weight is 103 pounds when she is loaded to travel distance. Needless to say, with my 200 pound (m)ass on her back, she just doesn't want to go into the wind very well.

Fortunately today I had a 5 mph tailwind. That may not seem like much, but I laughed out loud more than once today when I saw flags in people's yards blowing in my direction. I covered 45 miles by noon given the light tailwind and pancake flat terrain. A great day for a travelling cyclist is being a member of the "50 Mile by Noon Club." Today was a pretty fair day with an average speed of 13 mph.

I knew that I had to locate the Wapakoneta Masonic Lodge as it is the 'HAMER Lodge'. The W.M. at our Lakeshore Lodge is Brother HAMERcheck. Riddle me that Batman. Luck being on my side, the Lodge appears on my left as I enter Wapak. I stop to leave a Special Olympics T-shirt, greeting letter and card. Having only one crumpled card left, I write the blog info from the card on the greeting letter and hang the shirt and letter on the Lodge's door.

Walking my bike, I am in awe of the beauty of this 175 year old town. It is just one of those places that just feels good. That good feeling almost immediately played out. Passing a small print shop, I see a woman walking inside and I ask her if she works there. With an affirmative reply, we step inside, I tell her my story and show her my one remaining crumpled Masonic business
card. She tells me to come back in fifteen minutes. I return and she places three dozen perfect business cards on the counter. Asking the tariff, she replies, "These are on me. I appreciate that you're helping the kids." God, I love the road!! I went to my handlebar bag and grabbed a fresh chocolate chip cookie I had just bought and paid my tab to Mary with a smile. Thank you Mary Beech at Image Masters in Wapak. You are a Road Angel.

Found another of my planned waypoints further down the road, just west of I-75. The Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum. It is a place I have always wanted to visit...just be advised it is closed Mondays. I only have about a 40 mile jump tomorrow so I plan to tour the Museum in the morning and get a late start for Bellfontaine, and the highest point in Ohio. Closing tonight with two words...Waffle House. One of my Dad's faves is right next door to where I am staying...we always had grits. Peace


CAT said...

"Well",says Alice," kiss my grits!"

Hope you got them and they hit the spot~ food being so important on the road. I just finished my homemade egg salad sandwich~ it's only 10 to midnight and I'm just having dinner. The little house is done~ and the heaviest part of your trip is behind you~

Now that you're headed east/South east the wind should fall in behind you~ keep me posted~ Columbus is just downhill from you now~
On a roll~ CAT

Mission Control said...

Brother Spudd, Mission Control here. Well, my friend, now the time has come to tell a little bit of your backstage story. For those following your journey, everyone should know that from concept to commitment, this was a very short time line for you. Many people who are following this are not seeing the traditional "pass the hat" mentality. They're just seeing one man, a Brother Mason, out raising awareness for Special Olympics. Okay folks, here's the really neat part: although Jim has planned the trip, he and the rest of us didn't really advertise this journey significantly in advance, that's because he and the rest of the support team (mostly Jim) didn't want to disappoint anyone by getting their hopes up. You know, the "I'll be arriving at this Lodge at this time..." or "we're gonna make this much money in donations for the Ohio Special Olypmics..." Friends, it's very simple, Jim's on a journey of enlightenment. He's following the Guide of Inspiration and fearing no danger. He's meeting real people proving America's worth being proud of. Each and every day truly is a new adventure for Jim because he doesn't know what each mile is going to bring. No preconceptions, no expectations, he is truly a traveling man seeking and sharing enlightenment. I could write so much more, but I'm afraid the point might be lost in the words. This test trip is on Jim's shoulders, and he's proving this can be done and is viable for raising awareness. That's the character of the man who cares for others before himself and would never claim to be able to do something without having something tangible to point to.

Jim is a true Mason; he is someone I'm proud to call Brother as well as Friend.

Keep on pedaling.