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Days 3 & 4 (9/21 - 9/22): 186 miles, 24 hours

Day 3:

Waking up from the comfort of lambda chi’s frat pad was difficult to say the least – our legs felt more like wooden pegs after the century-and-then-some ride of yesterday. We knew precious minutes were passing that we had pledged to bike, however, and so we roused ourselves from the dead.

We grabbed breakfast at The Cup, a popular breakfast spot at Ball State, and then headed on our way. Next stop was Richmond, IN, about 40 miles outside of Muncie, and we were fortunate to have a bike path for this next leg of the journey. (Fun fact: Pawnee, IN from Parks & Rec is an upside down map of Muncie!) The trail was beautiful, and the weather had cooled down about 10 degrees compared to the day before. Fall was starting to show itself, and the miles went fast.

We ended up in Richmond around 2:30 pm and ate some great BBQ at the Firehouse. We finished with some espresso at a local coffee shop nearby, Roscoe’s, and ended up getting a tour from the head barista, Jesse – he and Sam talked coffee roasters and they were kind enough to give us a free bag of their Tanzanian roast. Hearing that our final stop for the day was Dayton, Jesse asked if we were taking the interstate…he had biked the interstate in the past and it was a straight shot to Dayton. Our route, however, took us on various highways and back roads instead. It was a more roundabout route and would certainly take us longer than if we took the interstate, but it was the one prescribed by Adventure Cycling so we decided to stick with it.

As we headed down our path, we ended up on 40E, which ended up having no shoulder and seemed to be the road every in Richmond, IN was driving that day. We still had about 4+ hours of biking ahead of us, and cars were getting uncomfortably close to running us off the road. So, this was when we made the decision to find the interstate and copy Jesse’s route.

Little did I know, it is illegal to bike on the interstate in Indiana and Ohio (it is legal in Arizona). I didn’t realize it was illegal until seeing a sign as we approached the on ramp that prohibited cyclists. I stopped, but Sam kept going (of course), waving me on after he noticed that I stopped. We ended up having a long argument about which route we should take, with Sam confident that the interstate was the best way and me confident that anything but the interstate was better. In the end, Sam’s relentlessness broke me down and we took the interstate - we had to do 20 miles on it and it would cut our trip down by more than an hour. Truth be told, I was also well aware that Sam had a knack for getting lucky in situations such as these, so I was banking on some Beger good fortune during our illegal escapade.

We were 15 miles in and I thought that we actually might make it without any trouble. That was when I heard police sirens. We were stopped by an officer who told us that it was illegal to bike on the interstate in Ohio (we had crossed the border into Ohio after a few short miles on the interstate). “Oh really, we had no idea...”. Fortunately for us, the officer was super kind and understanding, and ended up giving us a police escort to the next exit, which ended up being the exit we had planned to take in the first place. So, for 5 miles, we shut down the right lane of interstate 70 E. I’m sure we were a sight to see, and I apologize for anyone taking 70 E around the IN/OH border that day.

After getting off the interstate, and giving Sam my “I told you so” spiel, we started on the Creekside trail to Dayton, which was a welcome change from the interstate. About 20 miles out from Dayton we ran into a guy named Phil Hinrichs, who noticed our touring setup and asked where we were traveling. It turned out he had biked across America 16 times and logged about 100,000 miles, rocking bibs and no shirt the entire time. He told us about his journeys, rode with us partway into Dayton, and even changed a flat tire for us. After saying goodbye to Phil, we rode along the water the rest of the way into Dayton and ended in Riverside for the night. Exhausted from the day and biking into the dark, we were relieved to arrive at a hotel recommended by Phil as it started to rain. We must have used all our luck on the interstate, however, as the hotel (and all others near it) were booked for the night – apparently it was parent’s weekend at the University of Dayton…of course.

Short on options (we would camp in the rain or call a local church), I decided to check Airbnb on the off chance that there was still a spot nearby (it was past 9 pm at this point). There was one available that was still allowing bookings for the night: 2 couches in a house about 1 mile from us – PERFECT!

We arrived and were welcomed by 2 college-aged guys, both of whom were extremely nice. We later learned that one of them had a rare heart condition named hypoplastic left heart syndrome, where the left side of his heart is too small to pump blood to the rest of the body - he had surgery as an infant to switch the workload over to his ride side, but not without side effects. He told us about his life now at 22, knowing that most people don’t live past their early 30’s and how he could feel his body deteriorating as his need for a transplant grew exponentially over the years. Despite all of this, he still managed to bike 100 miles in one day not too long ago…he definitely earns my respect, and I wish him the best of luck in the future.

We passed out on some couches - next stop Columbus.

Day 4:

We started off the morning in Dayton. Waking up on the couches that we had passed out on, both of us were short on sleep. The Airbnb (albeit convenient) was hot and noisy that night. We slowly packed up our stuff, both uninterested in seeing how bad our legs would hurt on the bike, and coasted downhill to a diner called Hasty Tasty. If Hollywood ever needs a classic, subpar diner with salty waitresses and greasy breakfast food, then I have a place for them…After Sam was told to fill his Camelback in the bathroom instead of their filtered water faucet, we left Hasty Tasty with our stomachs full of saturated fat and watery coffee.

Fortunately for us, especially after our fiasco on the interstate yesterday, we were able to meet up with a bike path fairly soon. This would take us to London, OH, our halfway point for the day. Full of hope that our waitress from the morning didn’t spit in our food, we pedaled through the build-up of lactic acid in our quads toward Columbus.

Before hitting London, we stopped in a small town called South Charleston. They had a fall festival going on, and it was awesome to see their small community come together – there were fundraisers for the football and cheerleading teams, pumpkin carving contests, apple bobbing, a dog adoption tent, and a scarecrow stuffing station. We grabbed some hot chocolate from a small ice cream stand (we were both freezing, but all the kids seemed to be immune to the cold as they bought their weight in ice cream), which ended up being run by a Phoenix native spending his summer/fall in Ohio. Not too far out from South Charleston, we ran into 2 guys that were riding penny farthings! For those who don’t know, these are the old-time bicycles with one giant wheel and one small wheel. One of the gentleman coined it the “original fixie”, with no gears and only a front brake that was more of a hazard than useful. Their dress matched their ride, and apparently, they had done century days on these things – how awesome?! Sam and I spent the next portion of the ride talking about investing in some penny farthings of our own…look out Phoenix!

Once we got to London, we were disappointed by the lack of accents. We decided to go to Kroger for lunch and buy some light food to get us on our way to Columbus, which was another 46 miles away. Hanging out in the shopping cart bay of Kroger in our bike shorts, Sam and I could have been a museum exhibit as people grabbed their cart and watched us stuff our face with peanut butter and granola bars. “Do you guys know which way Buckingham Palace is??”

The rest of the way to Columbus was on bike paths. For those who haven’t toured before, bike paths are truly a blessing – it is easy to underestimate the toll that the stress of the road and cars zooming by you can take. I know it can be annoying to have to slow done for a bike on the road, but understand that we want to be on that road even less than you want us to be on that road, and we are only on it because we did not have a path to take…honking and driving uncomfortably close to us does nothing. End rant.

As we entered Columbus, we biked through the Ohio State campus and by the football stadium where there was a game going on. We could even hear Urban Meyer wining to the referee from where we were biking. Westerville was our final stop for the day, where we were staying with a friend of a friend we had not met before, Allison. After Sam almost got right hooked by a car outside of Westerville (again…why??), we arrived at Allison’s place. She lived there with her fiancé, Adam, and 2 pets: a wiener dog named Dax and a cat named Piper. Despite never meeting them before, Allison and Adam welcomed us into their home like old friends. They showed us around their neck of the woods, and even invited us to join them for a party at their friend’s house. We really enjoyed their company and hospitality – it was support like this along the way that made our journey possible. Thank you, Allison, Adam, Dax, and Piper!

Sam on a queen-sized mattress with a cat laying between his legs, me on a big comfy couch and an ice cream sandwich in my hand, we slept well that night.

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