Day 18 is my second off day of the ride. I clean up and tune up the Sojourn, eat greasy diner food, share stories with friends old and new and get lots of sleep.
🌧 ⛈ It storms buckets overnight. But once again the rain and lightning diminish after dawn. Breakfast is kimchi and some new canned oxygenated recovery sports drink. It has that Brawndo vibe – you know, not like from the toilet… ginger pineapple flavored, with a tiny bit of caffeine. Also some stevia in there. I didn’t notice that when I bought it (roll with actual cane sugar or honey or agave only) but I can taste it. In the end, I don’t really care for this drink much, but it’s better than Gatorade. Within a mile of Al’s crib the Alum Creek path picks up. Like motherfuckin’ Tonto, I jump on it and I’m immediately back in the sugar hill trail glory. It’s a superb morning windiness with “trail closed due to high water” signs to ignore and big ass puddles to splash through. I cross the same creek over no less than 10 times on small bridges, weaving my way north along Ohio’s capital city and then through its northeastern suburbs. It’s fantastic to be able to avoid all the flying monkey crap a ride in and out of a city normally comes with. For real though, I’ve had monkeys throw shit at me in both Nepal and Myanmar – it’s not fun. I think about investigating other metropolitan areas in North American that can provide ease of entrance and exit via bicycle facilities. Boards of tourism and state departments of transportation are you listening yet? Let’s assume not. It’s hard to hear when your head is up your own ass (or someone else’s).Back here in the Buckeye State, I bust out 50 traffic free miles before I even drink coffee. By 1pm I’m at the Mount Vernon station stop, eating trail mix, enjoying free filtered water and restrooms and sipping on the nearby gas station’s “Colombian blend”. It’s pretty solid actually and these trails are the 🐝 🦵🏽. I get an occasional shower, but nothing soaking. A simple sign puts me in the pocket. There’s lots of fog and mist and animals along the Heart of Ohio Trail; Mother Nature is going hard as fuck all day. Birds of every single color of the rainbow shooting left to right and right to left as I speed along at 17mph. I almost hit no less than two dozen chipmunks, but I’m still being shutout, they really know how to turn and then turn back on a dime! The storms and flooding are predicted to continue the next few nights, so I’ve preplanned my stop to be a small town called Glenmont Ohio, where I got me a little hike and bike hostel I found online. As I arrive to the trail terminus, there’s a DIY bike help kit and a some pretty ballsy cock hanging out at the covered picnic area. Glenmont you are one wild place and I haven’t even hit your highly reviewed singular establishment, the Glenmont Tavern.Famished, I opt for the non-fried food go-to at every dive bar across the country: a steak sandwich and/or “spicy” pickled eggs. In this case, both. Not bad as far as middle of nowhere suppers go. I even enter $1 into their queen of hearts game of chance. I put my name and number on a ticket and pick #8. Oddly, there’s no cell phone service here, so if I win later tonight, I won’t even know until I’m long gone. Doesn’t matter, the staff and patrons here are super awesome and I’m loving the backcountry happenings occurring all around me. When it couldn’t get any better, I settle up and walk out, ready to head down to the hostel, and I’m stopped in my tracks making the bestest of best friends with a one-eyed cat sitting on the bench out front of the tavern. This little guy stole my heart was super snuggly and so I sat and petted him for quite a while. The guy working in the store next door didn’t know the story of how he lost his eye, but I like to think it was doing something awesome, like winning an underground feline fight club match (rule number one is: you don’t purr about fight club).
My digs for the night are fantastic. Everything I need. Nothing I don’t. The owner Tom has hiked the Appalachian Trail and stayed at Hostel Buffalo-Niagara a few years back. We chat a bit about the generosity and kindness we’ve both experienced on long traveling adventures in the USA and then how paying that forward through hospitality not only feels great but is required when one has been so fortunate on the other side of that coin. He raves about the hostel in downtown Buffalo and it’s art and it’s cleanliness and it’s price and it’s staff and everything, so I disclose that I’m the hostel president and truly appreciate his words of praise and will take them back to Buffalo. I tell him to make sure he reaches out to me if he ever comes that way again. Then I fill my tires 10-15 lbs and head back inside to crash for the night.
If you’re keeping track at home, I’m making more friends than I can keep count of. This is a much better social network than Facebook.