Day One - London to Port Burwell
The original online journal entry:
Actual Date: 2005-08-05
Uploaded: Sat, 6 Aug 2005 10:25:52 -0400
Distance: 81.95 km
Even though I started a new tour today I also have a sense of deja vu because this tour takes me back to the area of my very first bicycle tour.
I was surprised today by the similarities and differences between two tours with the same starting and ending points but many miles of touring experience apart.
I actually started pedaling during my first tour at around 11:00 in the morning. I recall that day as being extremely hot but with an exceptionally strong tail wind for that time of year. My touring bike still had the painful ergonomically correct seat and my gear was all above the rear wheel with most of it in two rear saddlebags and the remainder in a garbage bag sitting on top of the rear rack. I had no other bags at that time.
Today my bike is set up far differently with three Ortlieb saddlebags (2 front, 1 rear right) and a bear keg (rear left). An Arkel large handlebar bag rides on the handlebars along with my mascot, Mr Smiley, and an Air Zound Horn. Just beneath the bars a small add-on bar holds my Hac 4+. Completing the gear is a flag pole with a Bicycle Touring 101 flag and of course I now ride a very comfortable Brook's B-17 leather saddle.
Today's ride started immediately after work and although the route was at first the same my experience on it wasn't. As is usually the case I met some interesting people on the pedal out of London but as I reached the outer perimeter the extreme sport part of the ride began.
You probably think that I am about to mention insane traffic but the reality was far different with relatively empty roads and peaceful drivers.
Construction zones are actually something that I tend to enjoy while touring. While you never know exactly what you are about to receive often you find less traffic and better riding conditions as a result of the construction. After all busy or speedy people try to avoid construction zones as much as possible.
Today I encountered two areas where bridges are being worked on. The first area included a torn up road with huge mud holes, soft dirt and slippery stones that make you tense up even though the tires did a fine job of keeping a grip.
The second bridge was completely out of service with big concrete barriers to prevent heavy traffic from attempting to use the bridge. Of course this meant scouting the bridge and then lifting the loaded touring bike over two sets of these barriers.
The rest of the ride seemed to contain everything that you would want for a magical ride. A beautiful tailwind for the first hour, vibrant blue skies with interesting clouds and from time to time an opportunity to read a historical plaque and learn more about the area.
It was during a state of absolute happiness that a bee decided to sting my left leg, introducing an unexpected and strong burning pain coupled with a relatively quick loss of power in both legs. Of course this happened just before I explored some wonderful rolling hills near Sparta so the climbing was tougher then expected.
The funny thing about this event is that it happened while I was enjoying a slight tailwind, on a slight downhill slope, with the sun shining and just after me thinking "it doesn't really get much better then this". Grin, I wonder if the bee saw the humour too?
Eventually my legs returned along with a beautiful sunset that made me sneak peaks on a regular basis in my rear view mirror and stop more often then planned. The way that the sunlight was hitting one cloud in particular was amazing.
When the wind died I was able to test how well my loading changes helped my cruising speed. During my Round Lake Michigan tour I was surprised to find my speed much lower then expected. Today I discovered that once again it was easy to cruise at an average speed of about 24 km per hour with long periods of time at higher speeds. My tours are not focused entirely on speed but if you can travel a bit faster then you can often take in lots of scenery during the ride while having more free time to stop and visit interesting people and places along the way. When riding a time sensitive tour like my recent Lake Michigan changes in average speed can make a real difference.
Unfortunately I haven't run into my touring friends yet. Since they are circling Lake Erie in a counter clockwise direction I suspect that today they had to fight those same winds that I enjoyed so much. Hopefully tomorrow they will arrive.
Tomorrow is likely to be a rest and exploration day (I know,I know - grin). I am thinking about visiting Port Burwell and Vienna to see what's new and to take some pictures of the places I enjoyed so much during my first tour.
The hammock is up and the crickets are chirping so it's time for this rider to get some sleep!
(Press Next to read about Day Two of the tour).
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