Date: Thu, 9 Sep 2004 09:26:24 -0400
From: Daniel Migues <dmigues@moog.com>
Subject: Lake Erie Bike Ride

Gerry,

I only started cycling in March 2001.  Since that time I have done "Cycling the Erie Canal" (supported), East Aurora to Toronto and Back solo, a week in Ireland (Avid Connemara) solo, and now solo Lake Erie.  I began my cycling at age 49 1/2 and before my 50th birthday, did my first Century (100 miles in a day.)  Now, at 52, 53 in a couple of weeks, I basically cycle because I enjoy it, though how one can say they enjoy peddling an average of 102 miles a day for 7 days is somewhat a mystery to me.

The text of my trip is included below. I am definitely not a writer.  If you feel it is worthy to print, please edit it as you see fit.

Keep your head up and your wheels to the road. :o)

Highest regards,
Daniel
 

****


I had breakfast at a little diner here in East Aurora at 6 on Wednesday the first of September.  After that I headed out on my solo cycle trip around Lake Erie.  I originally had a much different plan.  In fact I had several plans which either grew or mutated. The first of these was to get someone to take me to Detroit, and then ride my bike back through Canada.  That would have been about 280 miles.  Later, when I could find no one going to Detroit, I decided to rent a car, and drive me and the bike to Detroit and then ride the bike back.  Later, I was thinking that if I saw what there was going to Detroit in Canada, that it would be fun to ride my bike along the south shore.  Eventually I decided to ride my bike around the entire lake.  I planned on it being about a 10 or 12 day trip.  I figured 700 miles and averaging about 65 miles a day.  At least that's what I thought.

So, as I said, I started off on my journey on the first of September.  I followed my normal route into Canada over the Peace Bridge, and then when I got into Canada, I followed Highway 3, all the way to the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor.  The first day, it became obvious that my (lack of) real planning would drive me to make some critical decisions.  The first of which was whether to stop at 50 miles or forge ahead for 100 miles to the next big town with motels.  Since I had not gotten my Century Ride (100 miles in a single day) in this year, I decided this would be a good time.  And I felt up to it.  I stopped to take some pictures along the way.  I arrived in Simcoe, Ontario, Canada around five-ish.  I unloaded the bike, showered and rode down to have dinner.  Afterwards, I went back to the motel, and with over 108 miles worth of peddling behind me, watched TV until I fell asleep.

I woke up before the sun was up, Thursday, packed up the bike, and headed out.  There was a neat sunrise.  Almost like a sunset.  And the fog added a bit of color also.  This second day posed the same problem as the first day. Either stop around 50 miles are go for broke.  So I decided that since I had never tried two consecutive centuries, I'd give it a go.  I was surprised how good I felt all day, and arrived in Blenheim, Ontario, Canada, around five-ish again.  After showering and unloading the bike, I went for dinner which was close to the motel.  And ended the day with over 107 miles of peddling behind me.

Friday, the third brought my first bit of bad luck.  I felt strong all day, and the ride to Windsor was uneventful.  However, as I attempted to cross the Ambassador Bridge into the US, I was stopped and told that I could not ride my bike across the bridge. When I stated I'd walk it across, I was told, I couldn't do that either.  So the kind (humph) lady told me how to get to the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, and informed me that there were Tunnel Buses which took bikes across to the US.  Unfortunately, when I got to the tunnel, the supervisor said that a bus had just left, and that the next one wasn't for an hour.  He also said there were no bike racks, and that if the bus driver did not agree to take me, or if he asked him (the supervisor) I would not be allowed to take the bus.  I almost decided to turn around and go back to East Aurora via Canada, however, I didn't want to be a DNF (Did Not Finish).  Granted this was a solo trip, but I felt that I had to finish.  So I found a taxi, and was only slightly (yeah right) upset when I found out it would cost me $40 to go the ? mile through the tunnel.  Ah, Canadian business sense.  Take advantage of a guy in a jam.  After I got out of the tunnel, I was pretty much lost.  My map did not extend to the tunnel, because I had routed myself across the bridge.  But after a few false starts and a lot of asking directions, I made my way to Flat Rock, Michigan. Again, I followed the shower, unpack, and go eat scheme that had worked so well previously.  BTW, did I mention this motel had mirrors on all 4 walls and the ceiling?  Hmm, maybe I should skip that part.  So I went out for pasta.  While I was eating, it sprinkled, and while it stopped before I left to go back to the motel, its affects were about to make themselves painfully clear.  As I headed into the driveway of the motel, I braked, and my front wheel slid out from under the bike on the wet pavement.  Seems they had just sealed the driveway recently.  I went down hard, and ended up with a bloody left elbow, left leg, and some sore ribs which had landed right on top of my arm.  I took some pix of the carnage, but then decided to delete them rather than make everyone sick.  But the bike was in good shape.  So I took my 104+ miles and chalked up a triple century.

Saturday the 4th brought the most temptation to call for a ride home.  I was offered the opportunity to spend the night in Toledo with the family of a good friend, but I called and declined.  I was only 39 miles from Toledo when I started out from Flat Rock, and I didn't want to do such a short day. So I decided to try for Sandusky, Ohio, which would have given me my 4th consecutive century.  Things were uneventful, until I got to Port Clinton. According to Microsoft Streets and Trips, there is a road, Highway 269 which is supposed to cross the mouth of the bay alongside the freeway.  But no matter how many people I asked, and no matter how much I searched, I could not find the road.  I looked at the map and discovered it would be about a 50 mile back track to get around the bay.  That's when I almost called my friends, who were in the area,  to pick me up.  But, again, DNF just didn't appeal to me.  So I checked into a motel, and called Mom.  She said some words which inspired me.   She said, "It's an adventure."  I knew then, that DNF was NOT an option, and decided that even if I had to backtrack 100 miles, I would do it.  My only real disappointment was that the mileage for the day was only 90+ miles.  I had not achieved a quadruple century.  Unlike other nights, there was a seafood restaurant across the street, so I walked to dinner.

Sunday, I woke up in good spirits.  I realized that even if I traveled at 60 miles a day, I would still be home before the end of the week.  So I began my trek around the bay from Port Clinton to Sandusky, via Fremont.  When I got to Fremont, I discovered that the road I wanted to take was also freeway.  So I rode around for a while until I found some guys working on a roof.  One was quite helpful, and gave me straightforward, no-nonsense directions to a rural road that led to Sandusky.  A few miles later and 2 left turns, and I was on Highway 6 headed to Sandusky.  Between Sandusky and Cleveland, the views were nice, and there were some good photo opportunities.  I stopped at a park near Lorain to refill my water bottles and make a pit stop, but as I was leaving I noticed my tire was flat.  I can only assume that I ran over something in the grass.  That was my first flat, knock on wood, and as I learned later, it was a blessing in disguise.  So after I replaced the tube, I headed out again.  That blessing came when I got closer to Cleveland.  I met up with a lady and her son. They were the "ride the sidewalk in the wrong direction with no helmet at 6 mph" type, but they could offer me one thing.  They could offer me a guide through a part of Cleveland.  So I rode with them, and now wish I had taken a picture of them.  They were really nice.  And they got me to within a mile of a hotel.  So at 97 miles and some change, I called it a wrap.  I decided to walk to dinner.  Later the guy at the desk gave me directions which "most of the bikers use".

So I started off Monday morning, and knew I had to make Erie by the evening. I missed a turn, but finally found the bike path that the desk clerk had mentioned.  After the bike trail ended, the roads for the most part were ok, but there were stretches where it was pretty scary.  And along about midafternoon, I took what was to be my second and worst tumble of the trip.  I was on a stretch of road which was barely wide enough for the cars, and a truck had passed by close and just about took me out with his wing mirror. A few miles up, I wanted to get up on the sidewalk and relax for a few miles.  But the place in the curb I attempted to get up was deceiving and I took a tumble hard enough to crack my helmet.  I also got a bunch of road rash on my right knee.  Well, at least both sides match now.  I plan on retiring my helmet with honors.  The remainder of the trip to Erie, PA was uneventful, and I made it in at 107+ miles for the day for my 4th and final Century of the trip.  Need I mention the shower, unpacking, and dinner? Guess not.  I was really pleased with the day.  Being Labor Day, I was extremely concerned about drunk drivers.  And while I saw a lot of guys buying cases of beer, I never really saw what I would call a drunk driver.

Tuesday, the seventh was a challenge.  I woke before the sun rose, and took off.  But that was only slightly stupid, because I ran over something and got a flat tire.  I was concerned because I had just passed 4 punkers, and wasn't too keen on fixing a flat in the dark, but fortunately, I was about 20 yards from a fire station, and there were firemen up already.  So I fixed the flat.  It was difficult for me to pace myself the rest of the day. I had to keep telling myself that this was not a race, and though it was the last day, it was a ride.  I arrived home after a 98+ mile day around 3:30.

All in all, it was an adventure.  (Thanks, Mom!)

Here are some statistics which you may or may not ever read.  Not even sure if anyone has gotten this far.  But here they are:

Total Distance: 714.18 miles
Average Speed: 12.46
Total Days: 7 calendar days
Total Time: 57 hours 23 minutes and 14 seconds
Est Calories: 32534 (per my Excel spreadsheet)
Fun : About a million bucks worth.