Today we entered Pennsylvania our 11th state. At the same time over the next three days my daughters Amy and Sarah, Matt’s wife Cindy, daughter Katie and parents Dick and Mary Anna will all join us. Since we’re in PA it made me think back to the Pittsburgh Pirates 1979 World Series champions who adopted the Sister Sledge song “We are Family” as their anthem. While I’ve been fortunate to have Brenda along for much of the trip, Matt and I are looking forward to being with more of our family members. Also, when I looked up the lyrics to We are Family I thought the second chorus rather appropriate:
Living life is fun and we’ve just begun
To get our share of the world’s delights
High hopes we have for the future
And our goal’s in sight
Today we had a 95 mile ride ahead of us so we made an effort to get going and were on the road by 7:30a. As the trip has continued we’ve found that leaving before 7:30a requires a major effort. As long as we don’t have heat, a storm or over 100 miles to ride leaving around 7:30-8a seems to work well for us. We had a small breakfast at the hotel so today seemed like a perfect day for a B2 (breakfast #2). We rode 22 miles to Painsville, OH and found a great little cafe for our second breakfast:
From there we meandered along the shores of Lake Erie through various coastal towns. The weather was perfect for riding again (man are we lucky or what?!?) and the roads were in much better condition. We had a slight tailwind today so we were able to average over 19 mph for the 95 mile ride today. We had been a little concerned about riding 95 miles today as the longer days are becoming a little more difficult but with the great conditions we both felt great.
Our next stop was in Ashtabula, OH where we stopped and visited Doug and Mary Lou who are friends of Matt’s parents. Just before stopping at their house, the SAG vehicle found us and I got to see my oldest daughter Amy! Brenda had driven to Erie this morning to pickup Amy and then they backtracked on the route to find us. It was so nice to see Amy who by the way works for the LA office of the MS Society as a development manager on their bike events. So basically she’s a professional SAG person here to help Matt and myself…how cool is that! After a nice visit with Doug and Mary Lou we rode to Conneaut where we had lunch down on the beach.
Time for a quick family story here. Mary Lou told Brenda about the longest covered bridge located in Ashtabula in addition to the three covered bridges in Conneaut that she also wanted to visit. Amy suddenly had a flashback to when we lived in Connecticut. The kids were 9, 7 and 4 and we went to Vermont for the weekend. On our way back from the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory, Dad (the hero) had planned to stop by the Ben & Jerry’s plant for a tour and tasting. Mom (in this case not the hero), kept rerouting us to see various covered bridges and stopping to take pictures. You can imagine how excited three young children and one father were with all these detours. Much to Amy’s relief Brenda settled for just seeing the one covered bridge today as Matt and I were making good time and they wanted to meet us in Erie for milkshakes. FYI…we did finally make it to Ben & Jerry’s that day and had a great time on the tour and sampling the ice cream!
We then had 26 mile left to Erie and challenged to SAG crew to find us a GREAT milkshake in Erie. We pedaled 2 miles and crossed the border into Pennsylvania and immediately noticed the improvement in road conditions. While the road was better today, much of it had little to no shoulder. Upon entering Pennsylvania we had a nice 3-4 foot smooth pavement shoulder for our entire ride into Erie. Tomorrow we only ride another 20 miles before entering New York so Pennsylvania has a good chance of winning the coveted “Best Roads of Chris and Matt’s Cycling Across America trip”. FYI, Indiana hands down currently holds the title for “Worst Roads of Chris and Matt’s Cycling Across America trip”.
Amy and Brenda did a great job on the milkshake in Erie as they found Sara’s on the Lake. We all met at an old-fashioned diner for nice milkshakes to wrap up our ride. After cleaning up at the hotel we all went to wonderful restaurant that Brenda found on Trip Advisor, which has done a good job of helping us find good, local places to eat. We had a great Mexican dinner at Latino’s in downtown Erie. Not quite what you’d expect in Erie, but we talked to the owner and the entire family was from Mexico City and the food was fantastic! Here’s the photos from today: