Sunday 17 June 2018

USA Tour Stage 32: Richmond, IN to Marysville, OH (104 Miles)

Click here for route flyby

Every evening in the reception area of our hotel the Crossroads team display a large map showing how far we have come. Since leaving LA last month we have travelled about 2,600 miles and passed through nine states. I remember looking at the map a few days after we set off and thinking that we have pedalled a lot a lot of miles but don’t seem to have gone very far. Looking at the map when we arrived in Marysville today after a long and hot stage I realised that we have made huge progress. The line tracing our route, and the photographs lining it, show just how far we have come. What really struck me today was that we really are closer, much closer to the end now. There are only 11 riding days until we reach the east coast and dip our wheels in the Atlantic Ocean.

I’m looking at this with very mixed feelings. Satisfaction and a growing feeling of achievement as we get ever closer to the finishing line. Not that I’m counting any chickens. Happiness at some new friendships I’ve made, including a couple of very special ones which I hope will continue after the tour. Pride at being part of a group of riders who collectively have grown into a magnificent and strongly supportive team. The collective response to overcoming the interstate puncture challenge set, for me at least, a new benchmark in teamwork. I’ve also got a few twinges of sadness – things I didn’t see or quite appreciate on the road. And some people who are no longer on the tour – a couple of folk in particular who have been in my thoughts a lot since they left us.

Of course a lot can happen in eleven days. And I am sure that my thoughts and reflections will continue to involve but today’s stage was for me, one of reflecting and taking stock. Today’s stage was also one that a close friend of mine would really have liked to have ridden. For me it had a certain English countryside feel to it and I would have enjoyed chatting about what we saw. So my motivator for riding today was my ‘absent’ friend. There in my thoughts throughout if not in person

Three miles after leaving Richmond we crossed the State Line into Ohio, the tenth state on the tour so far. I had heard that this part of Ohio was very pretty so I was looking forward to the ride. The countryside here is very lush, green with lots of trees, hedges and woods set in rolling land. In places it felt very much like parts of Suffolk, especially the area to the east of Newmarket so I felt quite at home. In fact One of my local riding chums said just that in a message to me!

One of the challenges I have riding in countryside like this is the difficultly of concentrating on the Garmin and the route map. It is all to easy to get so absorbed in the passing scenery and miss a critical turn. The Garmin responds almost immediately with an “off course” but if you are not looking at it then you are none the wiser. And yes, I’ll fess up now. I once went several miles before I realised the error of my navigation.

But it’s not all doom and gloom Sometime going the wrong way reveals a hidden delight. Today was a case in point. Having missed a right-hand turn  I spotted an old mill building ahead of me so rode to it to investigate. And what a lovely four storey wooden building it was. Complete with a replica vintage pickup truck parked outside. As far as I could determine the mill is open to visitors (not today, sadly) and is also the workplace of a photographer

There wasn’t much to trouble me physically on today’s stage. It was largely flat with smooth surfaces and fast tarmac. So easy riding. We did however come across a couple of disruptions – some road resurfacing works and a collapsed bridge both of which we took in our stride. Nothing stops the Crossroads train!

One hundred and five miles ands exactly six hours after setting off Pete and I rolled in to Marysville. This was the first of four long riding days – I can sense the possibilities of another century on tomorrow’s stage and possibly one the day after. The CV is liking this. My legs are not so sure!

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