July 15 - A Great Day: near Lancaster, Ohio

Today, everything seemed to click. No one got lost, no major damage was done to the RV or any bikes, all the riding was super, and even the weather cooperated a bit. We tried to learn our lessons about how to organize the trip according to our capacity and our tolerance, and the day went something like this:

Woke up at 6 AM (sunrise here, now is about 6:15). Got everything ready, Will, Shaine and I left at 2 minutes to 7, and Cheryl helped Cody with Annie and the RV start-up. The biking was over rolling hills from Shreve to Danville, Ohio. Four miles into the route, we came to Nashville, an odd town because it is at the top of a hill, not down in a valley by a "river" like most small towns seem to be situated (cruising down into and laboring up out of a town is getting to be a habit). There, a road sign announced "Detour; bridge out 11 miles ahead. Danville, 13 miles. Local Traffic only."

We mused for a moment or two, and decided to take our chances on being able to pass whatever was obstructing bigger, heavier, less maneuverable vehicles. In the meantime, we passed through some Amish country, up and down a few hills, and found one memorable 3 mile long down hill into a river valley. The morning air was still cool, and the trees provided full shade at this hour. We rolled down to the "bridge out" spot. There, several pieces of heavy machinery and 4 or 5 attendants stood over a 2 foot wide, five foot deep gap in the roadway, in which a pipe was about to be placed. We carried the bikes down, over a dirt path, and up the other side, and pedaled up the inevitable hill from the stream.

Danville is the start of the Kokosing Gap Bike Path. 14 miles long, on an abandoned rail bed along a river bottom. The path allowed all of us to bike together. This trail is completely "private"; no government funds were used to develop or maintain it. This path is a gem. We passed walkers, runners, roller-bladers, family bikers, even a dad pulling a kid in a trailer. But mostly, we passed under a canopy of trees along corn fields and bottom land. It was like biking in a linear room with green walls and ceiling. If all biking were like this, there'd be no need for heaven. The path runs thru Gambier, where a small college is located, and into Mt. Vernon.

There, Shaine and Annie re-joined Cody, and went out to lunch at a faux Mexican place. Will, Cheryl, and I rode on, all on singles, into Granville (home of Denison University), where we found enough lemonade and frozen yogurt for four of us for $7.80. On the way into town, we passed a farmer and his wife, watering the lawn in front of their barn. I waved, they waved back, and I rode up the gravel drive and asked "Is that water?" "Sure is; you can have some if you want, " the lady answered. "Can you just spray me?" I begged. The natural air conditioning lasted about two miles for me.

The way was mainly flat, and the sky was full of cumulus clouds, dropping the temp a bit. Out of Mt Vernon, we took a straight-line country road shot which seemed like an endless down hill to Route 40 (the National Road). We even grabbed a little tail wind (we were heading south, with wind out of the NW). Cody was parked about a mile or two before the intended meeting spot, but we pulled in, satisfied with our run, and ready for the pool at the RV park.

We drove up, and found a completely unidentified park (a small wooden sing with "Camping; Propane available was all that marked the entry). No formal office or official headquarters; the place seemed run out of an adjacent house, where a note on the door directed us to a nearby camper. From there, we took up residence under a shade tree, and plugged in. We were told by our greeter that the owner would be along in a bit, and was a biker just like us.

Minutes later, a man about my size, with glasses and longish hair walked over. No formalities, we just started talking biking (he had a shirt on which advertised a bike ride across Ohio for 1996). His name was Al, and he was born 6 days after me. He came to Ohio 30 years ago from West Virginia after high school, and worked for a time with GM, as a machinist and repair guy. Found this place, settled in, got divorced three years ago, and took up biking at the same time "because my knees went bad". Now goes 2-3000 miles a year, and runs the camp full time. We spent an hour or two with him in the evening, talking first about the origins of his Park. It was developed in 1896, as an amusement park. Its opening was heralded by a planned train wreck some PT Barnum type thought would be a good hype. Al now runs the place in a laid-back, totally informal style. He likes to head west, to the warmth, in Jan or Feb, when the business slows down, but for him, this is a full time life, and he gets to bike whenever he wants, but usually alone.

It was a day and evening that couldn't be beat. We had shade, a great swimming pool, good company, and an offer to ride with a local (Al) for the first 20 miles next morning. In the evening, the sun stayed covered, the humidity went down, and we watched a vibrant rainbow sunset for an hour while quietly talking with Al about his life and ours (all six of us). A totally unexpected end to a totally unexpected positive day.

Miles: Will, 78; Al (Tandem & single) 78; Cheryl (single) 58; Shaine (Tandem & single) 33; Ann (Tandem) 14.

Total miles: 913

**Next Day's Journal**

-Al Bikrutz