After the very nice police office showed me the way to the trail, I was off.  (Those of you who’ve known me for years will, at this point in your reading, shrug and say, “You’re always off, son.  This is not news.”)

The Cardinal Greenways Trail is hands down the finest bicycle trail I’ve ever ridden.  It was 60+ miles of very well kept road.  The plants / trees on either side had grown over the trail for many miles, keeping the direct sun off of me.  In addition, the vegetation was a terrific buffer for any wind.  No traffic.  No humidity.  No direct sunlight beating down.  Well kept road.  I was truly sorry to see it end in Gaston.

I stopped in Muncie, the last big town until Vaparasio.  I’d not eaten anything since my breakfast in Gratis, so I decided to treat myself to Olive Garden.  I was lovely Communications / Hospitality major Ellie’s only customer on a very slow Sunday:

Yes, sir, I can bring you a side of “whup ass.”

Ellie was appropriately full of a 22 year old’s enthusiasm. She’d just gone back to work for Olive Garden after a six month journey to Italy studying, ummm, Italian Studies.  (“What’s that got to do with Communication / Hospitality?” I asked her.  “Nothing,” she said.  “Just wanted to do it.”) 

Ellie wasn’t the least bit dismayed about the abysmal job prospects for college graduates.  (There’s that 22 year old’s optimism.)  She seemed to take it all in stride, figuring any job she’d get would be just the first step in a career.  The only thing that I said that seemed to cause her a brief moment’s pause was when I joked, “I’m 54 and I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.”  I’m not sure if she’d never contemplated having different careers as she got older or (this is much more likely) how she was going to kill the hostess for putting a crazy man in her section.

In all my riding, there had only been three previous occasions that I topped 100 miles in a single day.

  1. The very first day I ever used “clipless” pedals.  I never have understood the term because, they’re CLIPS.  There’s nothing “-less” about them.  You clip your shoe into the pedal.  I finished that day with 100.2 miles.  (Had to ride around the parking lot where the car was parked just to get to 100, but, by George, I got there!)
  2. 101.15 miles on August 6, 2011 on my trip from Columbus to Lake Erie.  That was a long ass day filled with flat tires and thunderstorms. 
  3. Then my all time “personal best” when I rode from Richmond to Columbus.  117.28 miles on September 18, 2011.

Based on the maps I was looking at, it looked as if I was going to hit 130 miles getting to Gas City.  I don’t know how other bicyclists do it, but, for me, I have to lie to my body.  If I tell my body that we’re going to ride 80 miles today, my body parts will start bitching at 80.1 miles.  I swear, those parts are like kids on a long car ride.  “Are we there yet?”  “The right foot is kicking the left foot again, dad!”  “I have to go to the bathroooooom!”

If I know the trip’s going to be 80 miles, I’ll tell my body that we’re really going 90.  Then it’s pleasantly surprised when we’re done 10 miles earlier.

But as soon as I “announced” to my body that we were all going 130 miles, God, you’d think I told all my parts I was donating them to Science . . . or maybe Science Fiction.  My back started moaning, my left foot cramped a little bit, and even my hair decided to stick straight out over the top of my ears under my cap.  It doesn’t take much for me to look foolish / scary anyway.  This was just icing on the cake.

DeLorean now makes a line of bicycles.  None with a flux capacitor, though.

The parts grudgingly liked it when I crossed the psychological 100 mile point, though:

100 Miles.  100 is an easy number for me to remember because it’s 10 times my IQ

After leaving the trail in Gaston, it was a rather uneventful ride on to Gas City. Well, there was this:

I don’t want to hear one more goddamned Yankee bitch about the “backwards South” and their dirt roads.

Bar none, it was the toughest mile on the ride because I did it all through the grass.  The last time I encountered a stone / crushed stone road, it ate my tires.  Message to Indiana:  Pave your roads, dammit.

After I got done riding in the grass I was quite pleased to get back to a First World road.  About five miles from the rock road I encountered another instance that the mapping tool could not have told me about:

The Bridge is out.  Thank you for calling.  Please pedal your tired old ass around.
They had only started working on the bridge a month prior.  Not enough time to update any maps.  (And they were going to be finished soon.  Must have been a private project.  No government / union workers would ever take only six weeks to repair a bridge.)
I didn’t want to back track to another route.  So I coasted across the street from this sign to a lady who was mowing her lawn.  I’d watched her for a few seconds as I approached the closed road.  She had some mad skillz in whipping around the trees of her fenced in lot.  I believe the correct term was “whirling dervish.”  
In between the sound of her lawn mower and the barking of her two German Shepherds, it was hard for me to get across my question of whether or not she thought I could a bicycle across the bridge.  She didn’t really know how far the construction had progressed.  She did assure me that the bridge was only a half mile down the road, so, gambling on being able to cross would only cost me a mile if I lost the bet.  I complimented her on her mowing skills and decided to double down.

The Claw!

No car could have crossed the bridge, but for a pedestrian or bicycle, it was easy to do.  I took it slow, avoided the construction detritus, and saved myself 10 to 15 miles of having to back up and go another way.

Not long after the construction, I realized that the Super 8 I was staying in wasn’t in the actual town of Gas City.  It was out by I-69, much closer to where I was riding.  This meant I wasn’t going to have to ride the full 130 miles.  (I kept that news from the rest of my body, though.  No need to get them all riled up.  They’d all settled down to their coloring books.) 

About two miles before the hotel, I reached the milestone I’d been looking forward to since I made the decision to ride on from Richmond:

This is the number of miles on a bicycle that it takes your legs to turn to Jello.
117.29 miles to break my own “personal best” record from Richmond to Columbus in 2011.  I would have done a little boogie dance, but, I’m a fat 54 year old man with skin tight biker shorts, an uneven tan, and really unruly hair.  Standing on the side of the road doing a boogie dance would cause blindness for drivers and no one wants that.
It was less than 2 miles to the hotel from that spot.  I’d put on my online registration form that I was arriving by bicycle, so if I could get a ground floor room, that’d be appreciated.  The clerk was duly impressed with my ride.  “You’re going all the way to Chicago?”  he asked, obviously having been tipped off by Ellie at Olive Garden that there was a crazy man headed his way.  I did get a chuckle when after we’d been gabbing for five minutes about my bicycle that he reflexively asked me what my make and model of car was.  “Well, it’s a Honda Accord, but it’s 130 miles away in Columbus.”  
It was nice to put the dawgs up:
Twin engines of raw biking power.  (In bad need of a pedicure.)