Day 77: (83 miles) Since we secured a Warmshowers host the night before, our destination was Delaware, OH. Originally we thought it was going to be a 60-mile day, then we realized it was closer to 75, and ultimately it ended up being over 80. The first half of the day was spent on another bike path- the Ohio to Erie Trail. On the path we passed other cyclists and morning walkers- one of which was an older gentleman who was impressed with our adventure and shared with us stories of his adventures (by car) out west and some of his family history. Not long after, we ran into a trio of cyclist who also inquired about our journey and gave us some local info about the area and routes. When we made it to London, we stopped to replenish supplies and have lunch. We were only on the bike path another ten miles or so before departing to follow country roads towards Delaware. We passed some well developed suburbs of Columbus before reaching our hosts. Jason and Andrea came to greet us with their dog Cocoa. They showed us to the back yard where we could safely store our bikes in the Garage for the night. This is where we saw Jason’s yellow convertible Datsun, in great condition. We apologized for being so late as we didn’t realize the length in miles. Not to mention, the gradual incline we followed all day killed our pace. Never the less, they showed us to their three season room that would be ours for the night. While we showered, Jason made us a delicious meal and Andrea finished mowing the lawn. When we sat down to eat we realized they had already eaten, so they grabbed glasses of water and chatted with us as we devoured the tasty chicken burritos. We learned that Andrea is a Spanish teacher at the local University Ohio Wesleyan, which is also what brought them to Delaware from Irvine, CA. Jason worked as a suicide prevention counselor until recently when some health issues changed that. He instead has become an expert bee keeper which we loved learning about. As we finished up our apple pie and ice cream, our pleasant conversation also came to an end as it was nearing time to tuck in.
Day 78: (40 miles) We awoke extra early today hoping to out pedal the forecasted thunderstorms. Jason and Andrea were kind enough to start their day at dawn with us, and fill us full of coffee, yogurt, and granola before we left. We navigated through Delaware on narrow roads with morning rush hour and barely a shoulder. Once we turned out of the city, we followed country roads for most of the day, periodically stopping to call area campsites to see if they had shelter available. We were struggling with the weather, trying to get in the miles, and Shayna feeling a bit off. We found a site that would allow us to camp under a pavilion for $32. When we made it to Sparta, and stocked up on Halls, we debated to deter from the route for a more direct route to Erie, PA. The weather wasn’t looking good and with Shayna not feeling up to par, we figured getting a room to kick the cold and keep us dry and warm would be best. So we pedaled to Mount Vernon. We continued along back roads until we got there. We snagged a sandwich and some soup at Kroger for dinner and stopped at Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch before checking into the Super 8 where we were able to rest for the remainder of the day.
Day 79: (61 miles) After news and breakfast, we hit the road. We quickly reconnected with a bike trail that we were fortunate to follow for the majority of the day. Ohio sure has this Rails to Trails thing down. These bike paths we’ve been following have been like no other that we’ve seen. They’re paved over railroad beds that are beautifully covered in a canopy of trees, or wild flowers, or both. Flat and consistent. They are great! We remained on the bike path until we got to a place where the path was closed. We went around but soon realized the bike path was the only thing going in the direction we needed to be going. We realized this as we were about to go under it. So we pushed our bikes up the hill to rejoin. Construction workers were there with some big contraption taking up 98% of the path. They said it should be fine to pass so we maneuvered around them. The path was dirt and lightly packed so even though we were headed in the right direction, our speed suffered. This continued for a few miles until we crossed a paved road. Seeing ahead that the bike path looked like it continued to be in less than desirable condition, we decided to take the road. Although we still ended up on a dirt road, it was much more traveled and tightly packed which make it easier and faster riding. We were off the bike route for 15 mile or so and the rain had been on and off all day. When we reached Killbook, we decided to stop. If it weren’t so cold and wet out, this would have been an ideal ice cream spot but we chose to share a grilled cheese instead. After departing a guy in a Prius, carrying a Long Haul Trucker in his back seat, stopped to say hello. Apparently he had passed us on the bike path earlier this morning. He asked about our trip and eased our suspicions about the quality of the bike path ahead by confirming for us that it was not only open but pleasantly paved and relatively flat. Hopefully we could make up some ground. Just as he had told us, the bike path was great. It was also unique. It was split down the middle, one side was for cyclists, walkers, and runners and the other side was for Amish buggies. We passed quite a few in the 20 miles we were on the path. Soon we were only miles away from our destination, Wooster, and back on state roads. The rain had picked up, and unfortunately so had the traffic which meant even more wetness. We were happy to see the Econo Lodge. However, we were surprised to hear rates had increased $30 since the last we checked online. Apparently we got their last room. Although it was a pricy night, we were happy to have a room after being wet and chilly all day. Apparently, there is a pipeline being installed through Wooster (boo) which has kept the large hotel at 80 percent capacity the last few weeks, and tomorrow there is some event at the college nearby so that pretty much booked up the remainder of the rooms. Once checked in, we cranked the heat, wiped down the bikes, hung up our clothes to dry, and grabbed dinner at Fiore’s Italian Restaurant across the parking lot.