Reporting on: Day 40 of the ride...June 17, 2009
Riding Route: From Niles, OH to Erie, PA
Temp: Cold and Windy and Rainy all Day!
Elevation Climb: 2500 feet
Miles Ridden Today: 89 miles
Have you ever seen the sky open up and dump a pouring rain on the parched land below? Well today was that kind of day! It was raining when we started - and we were in the rain all day. It was our first "all day rain " of the trip. We've had rain off and on, but there was no let up today! Of course the wind was right there with the rain...we'd take a left and the rain would be at our backs - and we'd take a right and the wind would be in our faces. Our first SAG stop (at about mile 36) many of the riders quit! They jumped in the van and went to the hotel! I have to admit that I made it only to mile 60. My fingers were white and numb, my feet were frozen, my shoes full of water and worst of all I couldn't see anything because my glasses were streaked with water the entire time. When you have rain coming from above, the visor helps keep the rain off the glasses. But, when the wind is blowing, the visor does no good - and the rain hits the glasses and continues on down to soak every part of your body. When the SAG wagon went by...I put my hand on my helmet...and they stopped. (We have the signals down pat)! Good common sense told me that it was time to quit! My group arrived at the hotel about 2:00 - and I'm sure the hot water bill of the hotel went up significantly! Boy did that hot shower feel good!
Crossroads Tours has an elite group of riders who belong to the "EFI Club". What's that you ask? It's the "Every Fantastic Inch" Club. It means you ride every inch of the trip. Some of us have other words for EFI! Use your imagination! We have 8 people who are hoping to become members this year. Let me tell you - those who stayed with the ride today - deserve it! More power to them - and we will all be proud of their accomplishment! However, I know that I didn't get to this ripe old age without using some good old fashion common sense!
I didn't take any pictures today. Certainly every picture would have been blurred with the streaks of rain coming down the lens! We have a day off tomorrow...hurray! Of course it will be laundry day - and we'll see what we can learn about Erie, PA! I can tell you that Erie is one of the cities in the triangle of Cleveland, OH, Buffalo, NY and Pittsburgh, PA (which is directly south). The city emerged as a maritime center after the American Revolution, then as a railroad hub during the great American westward expansion. It became an important city for iron and steel manufacturing during the Industrial Revolution and thrived well into the 20th century with big industry. Today Erie is known for it's heavy manufacturing sector which now consists mainly of plastics and locomotive building. They are part of the "Rust Belt"! Yep, I said Rust Belt! This area includes Minnesota (where massive iron operations took place which were critical to the steel industry) to Northern IL, IN and OH, MI, WI, NY, NJ and PA and down into the northern part of WVa. It signified the collapse of the steel industry which resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the region. The job losses dislocated many workers - particularly in Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Syracuse, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, Bethlehem and other towns forcing this area to diversify or decay. New technologies in this region include hydrogen fuel cell development, nanotechnology, biotech, information technology and wind power. These communities are hopeful that these new industries will help revitalize the economy of affected communities. Let's think about this: Did we bail out the steel companies?
Tonight I had the pleasure of my brother Steve's company again - and that of Gayle and Bob McNeil. We hadn't seen Gayle and Bob for 12 years - and what a wonderful time we had catching up on family news. They made the trek over from New York - and I thank them for their effort. What fun it was to spend time with them and do a major "catch up"!