Wednesday. Delaware, Ohio. Was ready to roll around 6:45am and went down to the lobby to check out the 'continental breakfast' offering. Cake donuts and a waffle making operation that looked dangerous...and ice cold orange juice. I opted to hydrate with OJ when a tall, thin man took interest in my bike which was parked out front. After relating my story, he tells me to, "Wait right there...I want to give you some money for the kids." He returned moments later with a $20 bill, I had him write his name and address on a card so I could send him a thank you when I get home. His name is Mike Spence from Benton, Illinois. And he wrote, "God bless.", on the card. Sure appreciate the kind words and deed. Pushed my bike out of the parking lot and up to the entrance of Rt. 33, the shortest, straightest route heading east toward Columbus. Was greeted by the infamous freeway sign prohibiting, 'farm machinery, vehicles less than 5 brake h.p. and BICYCLES. Time for plan "B" and it wasn't even 7:00am. Ran 20 miles of really entertaining short, steep hills on county backroads. Well, if life and bicycle touring teach you anything...chin up as every uphill has a downhill.
The roads eventually flattened out as I pushed eastward into Union County. Every County has their own idea about how much pavement they are going to place to the right of the white line. Some Counties have really nice, wide 'bicycle ' lanes, 2 - 3 feet. Union County along Route 347 has about 4" right of the painted line. Gets a little dicey when you are getting simul-passed by the motoring public. This will allow me to introduce another bicycle tourist term, "riding the paint." On narrow roads like Rt. 347, about all you can do is ride right on the painted sideline and hope that the vehicular traffic shows some respect. 99% of the time they do. Still, 'riding the paint' for the 19 miles across Union County is not something I would care to do again.
Made Delaware around 2:00pm after 50 miles and a 10.2/mph average speed. The mileage and average speed come from my cycling computer which is lovingly referred to as my 'Yippee Meter'. That's because at the end of the day, you can see how far you have travelled and exclaim, "Yippee!!". Really. A few high points from today's ride. Stopped in Pharisburg at a combination Marathon Station/Diner. Travelling invites you to sample new foods. Today I had an angus burger with fried bologna and rye cheese. Pretty good actually. I stopped in East Liberty's Post Office and walking out a man in a pick-up informed me that I should fill my water bottles at East Liberty's famous horse trough. No kidding...an artesian well constantly filling a stone horse trough. That was the first time in all my adventures that I've ever watered up at a trough. Had only one dog chase today...it was a yappy, four pound fluff-ball. Pretty funny.
I haven't talked too much about the weather. Frankly it has been sunny and lovely. I didn't want to jinx my luck by writing about how nice it has been. Until today, when the thunderstorms blew through in waves. Nice to be inside watching. The weather channel says there are possible twisters sighted near Wapak. Yikes.
Walking Pigbike through the streets of Delaware, I spotted something very rare. A bike shop. They are getting more scarce all the time. The owner of Breakaway Cycles, Dan Negley told me that the number of bike shops in the U.S. has fallen from 7,500 to 4,000 in the last ten years. I don't know about you, but I love a good bike shop. Dan's store is exceptional. While chatting with Dan, a Delaware Bicycle Officer stopped by to check out my touring rig. Officer Bob Hatcher gave me some outstanding directions and said he may be in Columbus on Friday for the opening of the Special Olympics. I hope to see him again. Great guy.
I stopped by the East Liberty and Raymond Masonic Lodges to deliver t-shirts, letters and cards. Snapped some more pics of each Lodge. Can't wait to sort my photos and see how many Lodges I have actually visited. Well, I'm getting close to completing my 'Get to Columbus' portion of this ride to raise awareness for our Ohio Special Olympians. As far as raising awareness, I think I've done the job. Everywhere I stopped and talked to people, it was always about the Special Olympians. Thousands of people have driven past me as I rode 500+ miles and have read the giant billboard on my back..."Going the Distance" OHIO SPECIAL OLYMPICS. Talk about putting the word on the street. I am proud to be the cycling ambassador for the Special Olympics. I almost hate to think that this part of the adventure is so close to being over. It has been a hoot so far. See you in Columbus??