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Pedal for Power Across America:
An Ohioan's Trip Diary, Part
II By Mary Lou Safran
The article originally appeared in Fresh Air, the newsletter of the Out-Spokin' Wheelmen, based in Youngstown, Ohio.
A Northeastern Ohio woman and her daughter completed the long, rugged Pedal for Power journey across America this summer. Somehow, she was able to keep faithful to her trip diary (by "staying up till 1 in the morning some nights"). Her daughter, Julie, celebrated her college graduation not on campus but on her bicycle as the two commenced their journey. This is their story in the words of the mother...
May 31 Liberal to Dodge City, KS
Followed the Santa Fe Trail into the "Wickedest Little City in America." Founded in 1872, lawmen such as Wyatt Earp fought to bring order to the streets of Dodge City.
June 1 Dodge City to Great Bend, KS
Windmills, cattle, and grain storage elevators and bins were observed on our 90 mile trek to "The Heart" of Kansas. Passed through Midway, USA--1561 miles between San Francisco and New York City.
June 2 Great Bend to Salina, KS
Felt ecstatic noting the demarcation between the East and the West. What a joy to view the emerald green landscape, hear the birds sing, and inhale the sweet aroma of Russian Olive trees. Ate in quaint Lindsborg, a Scandinavian village founded in 1869 by Swedish farmers.
June 3 Salina to Manhattan, KS
Traveled through enchanting Abilene, the home of former President Eisenhower. Also witnessed buffalo roam while cycling through Fort Riley--home of America's Army. Kansas ain't flat! Had a halfway across America party at the SAG stop.
June 4 Rest Day
Spent a relaxing day walking through the scenic campus of Kansas State University, founded in 1863. Julie and I discovered our picture on the front page of the Manhattan Mercury newspaper.
June 5 Manhattan to Topeka, KS
Rolled through the scenic Flint Hills, so named for their bands of limestone and flint. Also on the Oregon Trail briefly.
June 6 Topeka to St. Joseph, MO
This was day #26 and the first rain day. Departed Topeka after severe thunderstorms. Crossed the Missouri River into hilly St. Joseph. The Pony Express launched its famous mail service in April of 1860, from St. Joseph to Sacramento, CA (took 7-1/2 days for the 1,950 mile trip).
June 7 St. Joseph to Chillicothe, MO
A picturesque but tiring day with endless long "Missouri rollers." The loving community of Maysville welcomed us with homemade cinnamon rolls and sandwiches. While grinding up one of the longer, steeper rollers, one of the German riders joked and said, "This is poison for the legs!"
June 8 Chillicothe to Moberly, MO
The fields of Missouri were under water from the previous month's daily rains. A gloomy, chilly, 87-mile day with one long roller after another.
June 9 Moberly to Hannibal, MO
On and off light drizzle and countless hills on the backroads into the boyhood home of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain). Hannibal was used as the setting for incidents in Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. We all cruised down the "Mighty Mississippy" on the Mark Twain Riverboat.
June 10 Hannibal to Springfield, IL
We rode across the intriguing "Father River" of America in a steady rainfall. The untamed Mississippi was flooded over the banks in some areas. The raging Illinois River was also crossed on a long steel grated bridge. Arrived in Springfield, the 24-year-home of Abraham Lincoln, after pedalling by the flooded countryside of the spring rains.
June 11 Springfield to Champaign, IL
Picked up several new riders, including two additional Germans, joining us for the final leg to Delaware.
June 12 Rest Day
A well-deserved rest day after a grueling seven day stretch. Some chose to explore the campus of the University of Illinois where the university library is said to be the third largest library in the nation.
June 13 Champaign to Crawfordsville, IN
Photographed our ninth state line sign, staying in Crawfordsville, the home of General Wallace who wrote the novel Ben Hur.
June 14 Crawfordsville to Indianapolis, IN
A fun-filled humid day, spent frolicking on the Indianapolis 500 Motor Speedway. Pedal for Power allows one to be a child again. After cycling one lap on the notorious track, we rode four miles to the Major Taylor Velodrome, where we spun around the scary track.
June 15 Indianapolis to Richmond, IN
Departed the capital city via an impressive renovated downtown. "The National Road, " US Route 40, led us into Richmond.
June 16 Richmond to Columbus, OH
One of our generous riders provided a Father's Day picnic in charming London, Ohio. Noted a couple of historic stagecoach inns along National Road.
June 17 Columbus to Zanesville, OH
Since crossing the Mississippi, small towns tempted our voracious appetities with homemade desserts. After climbing a serious hill into Thornville, I discovered such a place selling American-made, cranberry-apple pie. Flagging down others, we had a memorable party.
June 18 Zanesville to Wheeling, WV
After today's course, the gang finally believed me when saying Ohio wouldn't be flat. Had many merciless climbs in the "little Switzerland" of Southeast Ohio. Passed over the Ohio River into downtown Wheeling on the 1849 cable suspension bridge.
June 19 Rest Day
Had a picnic in the phenomenal 1500-acre Oglebay Park. If we would have known how much suffering we were about to endure in the days ahead, we probably would still be in Wheeling.
June 20 Wheeling to Uniontown, PA
A muggy, wearisome day of climb after climb. And...to add to our woes, the local folks warned us that the next day would be "killer hills."
June 21 Uniontown to Cumberland, MD
Climbed a record 7,050 feet on this, the toughest day of the transcontinental ride (the longest climb in eight years for Pedal for Power riders; this was the first year this course was followed). AscendedMount Summit in the dense early morning fog. We passed two historic National Road toll houses and traversed the Mason-Dixon line.
We cranked up one relentless mountain after another, namely Meadow, Little Savage and Big Savage. Sweat poured off our bodies and our legs burned from lactic acid buildup on each stroke of the pedal.
June 22 Cumberland to Hagerstown, MD
Another sultry, buckets-of-sweat, 6,860-feet-of-fun-filled-vertical-climb adventure. The infamous Sideling Mountain was our treat of the day...how discouraging to watch our odometers click off the 80 mile day so slowly. Our director's opening speech in Los Angeles haunted us. Could this be the meaning of his statement: "Yes, you ARE going to suffer!"
June 23 Hagerstown to Edgewood, MD
Ground up South Mountain, crossing the Appalachian Trail. Then, had a delightful five-mile, cool descent through Cunningham Falls State Park. Our bicycles wound their way down the wooded, twising roads, while the soothing, gushing waters of the creek seemed to tell us this was the reward for the demoralizing climbing we had endured. Camp David, the Presidential retreat, was near this region.
A 3,000 mile congratulations sign surprised us at the SAG stop. I bid adieu to the Allegheny Mountains, never caring if I ever saw a mountain again.
June 24 Edgewood to Dover, DE
Hills continued to plague our 104-mile route until we entered our final and fourteenth state of Delaware. Once over the Delaware Canal, we caught sight of Delaware Bay. Finally, fulfilling my ultimate dream of cycling from sea to sea seemed like a reality, when detecting the fresh scent of salt water in the summer breezes.
June 25 Dover to Cape Henlopen, DE LAST DAY
Today was both the happiest and saddest day of my life. Our closely knit cycling family formed a double paceline for the final 14 miles to the Atlantic surf. Although each of us had our final moment of victory, a cloud of grief blanketed the joy, knowing that our bonded family was about to be disbanded after 3,200 miles.
After a picnic lunch, a bus transported us back to Baltimore for a banquet also attended by League of American Bicyclists staff members. "Good-byes" were impossible! The only consolation was the realization that each person would be a "road treasure" permanently sealed within my heart. No one can take that away.
P.S. I rode coast to coast without recording a flat on my Specialized Armadillo 700X23 tires, only inflating them twice on the entire trip.
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