Day 10: Ashtabula, OH to North East, PA

June 4th, 2014

53.6 mi /  5:20:59 time / 10.0 mph avg. / 950 ft. climbing
Staying at Lakeview on the Lake Motel

There’s this cool thing about staying at a bed & breakfast: they serve you breakfast! We got waffles, fruit, and some of the best fresh-baked muffins I’ve ever  had. Oddly, even though the lake was a block to the north, there was a giant one-block hill we had to descend going south. Luckily we got a fairly late start, otherwise my squealing brakes would have woken half the neighborhood. It was a cool, cloudy day, and finally proved that tailwinds and comfortable temperatures wouldn’t be mutually exclusive elements for the entire tour.

We found ourselves riding down a road so quiet and empty that we fell right into a conversation with the mom & pop couple at Buccia Vineyard who were having a good-natured argument about setting up a tiki hut in their charmingly ramshackle front yard. We had a nice chat about bike tourers they’d helped out years ago, got a picture, and then went back to our bikes we’d left in the middle of the road.




We had some pretty good hills to navigate with Rett’s still-aching knee, though crossing into Pennsylvania was a nice distraction. Once we reached the Avonia Tavern for lunch, they were kind enough to get us a bag of ice to cool the knee down while we ate.


When we walked out, the couple of drips we’d felt on the way in had unfortunately turned into actual light rain, and it didn’t feel temporary either. So we tightened up the rain covers, turned on our taillights and went at it. As her first time ever riding through actual rain, Rett was doing a great job, but at one point while stopping for a break halfway up a stupidly steep hill, her weighted bike tipped out from under her into the vegetation on the side of the road. Nothing was obviously hurt but her pride, at least until she whacked her ankle on her kickstand while frustrated over her now-dirtied handlebars. After that though, the whole rest of the way, she impressively kept an iron concentration despite her pain and really trying conditions.

In Erie, we went through a neighborhood far sketchier than anything the people warning about Gary, Indiana could dream up (and once again made it out alive). We had booked a room that morning at Lakeview on the Lake (but apparently wouldn’t be getting much of a view with the weather!) and had already decided we would just order in pizza (another great idea by Rett). But we also wanted a bottle of wine as a salve for the mental and physical wounds. We pulled into a gas station only to find that Pennsylvania is one of those wacky states that only sells wine at government liquor stores. And despite the nice woman working there who really wanted to help us get our drink on, all of the options were too far off the route. So we resigned ourselves to an alcohol-free dinner, but then on our way out of town Rett suddenly stopped at a bar and reminded me that I’d passed along the detail that at least beer can be purchased at bars. So I ran into the happy-hour crowded place, was immediately helped by the friendly barmaid, and then had to figure out how to cart 6 cans of Yuengling the rest of the way. But that wasn’t any problem at all!


After more ice for her knee, and pizza and salad for our stomachs, Rett stumbled out to join me at 8:50 to see the sunset from the high bluff over the lake. The rain had stopped by then, and the sun finally dropped between the cloud bank and the horizon, making our first sunset of the trip quite a spectacular one.


When Rett is particularly struggling, she will draw upon the strength of heroines of literature who overcame great odds in order to survive, such as Scarlett O’Hara or Daenerys Targaryan. Repeating a mantra in order to make it true, e.g. “I am Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryan, Mother of Dragons…” Whenever the time comes where she will go on her second bike tour, she will no longer need those fictional characters. She will simply be able to say “I am Retta Harms (Mother of Pippin). Nothing can stop me.”

6 Responses to “Day 10: Ashtabula, OH to North East, PA”

  1. Martha Uhler Says:

    Hope the weather stays sunny and cool for you…no more rain! Nothing worse than biking in the rain. I really enjoy reading your blog…it inspires me to get on my bike and just start pedaling…which we will be doing this fall from Maine to Key West. Glad you were able to witness a beautiful Lake Erie sunset AND were able to transport that six-pack to the B&B! Enjoy today’s ride and stay safe. Look forward to tomorrow’s post!

  2. Joel Says:

    Who won the cornhole match?

  3. Louise Says:

    The tiki hut photo is hilarious. No wine at Buccia Vineyard ;)? I notice that each state crossing gets a hug but you’re showing your best smiles so far entering PA!!! Good biking and more beautiful sunsets. Hugs. 🙂 🙂

  4. Sue Says:

    Neil, you’re hilarious, and I love Rett’s new mantra suggestion! Pip misses you, but so far he’s doing well. Today’s Friday, so I think you’ll make Niagara Falls today which will be lovely.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Ahahahahhaaaaa Rett Harms Mother of Pippin. Classic! I am literally lmfao in the middle of the Skaneateles YMCA as I read this and people are giving me shifty looks so stop being so funny!

  6. Sophie Says:

    oh yeah I guess I have been commenting as Anonymous the past few entries so just fyi the Anon. comments are from me!