July 14 - Lessons of the Road: Shreve, Ohio

Well, we learned a lot today, as usual. Last night, we had the great experience of meeting with the man who took our send off picture. A "random tourist" draped with cameras who was shooting Plymouth Rock at 7:30 AM, George was very patient while we posed, and had pictures taken with our multiple cameras. We talked a bit, and learned that he had a spread outside of Youngstown, in Mahoning County Ohio. When he learned that was near our route, he gave us his number, and told us to give him a call when we got close. I did that, 8 AM Sunday morning, and described our intended campsite.

He drove all the way across the county that evening, and found us amid 250 campsite spread over umpteen acres by a Corps of Engineers reservoir. We had a great chat, talking about farming, draft horses, education, our vacations back east, and trying to figure out why and how a family would ever undertake what we're doing. He brought his two daughters, aged 11 and 14, and Shaine regaled them with stories of her fabulous life (according to her). A remarkable man, who would make the effort to reach out to total strangers just to learn more about them and share a bit of knowledge. Like our visit with Hiroyaki two days earlier, it helped to give our wheels a positive spin.

"It's not the heat, it's the humidity". "It's hot, but it's a dry heat". Said in many places in the country, but never in Puget Sound country, where I've spent the past 18 years. During that time, I've built up (through no effort of my own) a wide web of capillaries under my skin, to better tolerate the cooler temperatures there. But that web does me no good out here, where it's both the heat and the humidity. Either one could kill me. Just standing around today, when the temp got to 93, produced sheets of draining sweat covering all exposed surfaces. The big advantage of biking is that, even though you are producing even more sweat (at least when going uphill), you're generating enough wind at 10-20 miles an hour to produce a great evaporative cooling effect. The old adage about beating one;'s head against the wall gets a reverse twist here - I bike because it feels worse to stop and sweat.

Imagining any immigrant in this country without air conditioning in his vehicle is like considering what it must be like to live in a cave - something our ancestors managed quite well, but I certainly don't want to use that genetic heritage now. So we SAG ourselves with an air conditioned RV, stand over cold air ducts in small town grocery stores while contemplating the drink cooler, and drain camelbacks full of tepid water.

I'm also discovering just what the limits are to Bikrutz' tolerance and capacity. For example, I can go no more than 50-60 miles on the tandem before I keel over, and can do about 70-75 miles total before I want to die. At least in this heat and wind and humidity. Shaine has a limit of 25 on the tandem, and Annie about 16-17. Cody has difficulty with all the transportation and maintenance work he does, and Cheryl can stand only so much of children's misbehavior before she decides things aren't going right. Then there's the time factor. Just eating, re-supplying water, food, and gas to the machine, setting up and breaking camp, bike repairs, journal upkeep, nurturing six personalities - it's no different then life at home, except with another set of goals.

So, we must decide: do we go for broke and ride every mile; do we set a limit time or miles per day, to increase the sightseeing and resting time available; do we add rest/driving days to skip parts of the country; or what? We'll talk about it and see what develops.

Miles: Will, 82; Al (Tandem & single) 82; Cheryl (Tandem & single) 41; Shaine (Tandem) 20; Ann (Tandem) 16.

Total miles: 835

**Next Day's Journal**

-Al Bikrutz