By Ben |

Today was a day when nothing went quite as expected, but everything turned out great!

I left Bill's place in a steady rain that was forecast to last all day long.  I headed for the Ohio River, where a city Web site had told me there was a bike trail.  On the way I slammed into a large pothole that was concealed by a puddle.  Immediately after that, I noticed a pinging, popping sound coming from my front wheel.  I assumed it was the spokes, knocked out of their delicate relative tension by the impact.

I stopped at a convenience store and got a cup of coffee to sip while I fixed the spokes, but when I got the bike upside down I found that the spokes were fine.  Hmm.  I got directions to the bike trail and was back on my way.

As soon as I was on the trail, away from traffic, I could tell that it was not a pinging, popping spoke sound after all, but a sickening crunching sound that could only be the bearings.  I had visions of fragments of broken bearing rolling around inside the hub... I stopped at a park shelter to investigate.

When I got the hub open, I found that the bearings were intact, just a little rusty on one side where I hadn't adequately greased the hub when I worked on it in July.  I took a leisurely hour to clean, pack, and grease the hub.  (The task was complicated by the rain and gusty wind; I was lucky not to literally lose my bearings.)

The newly rebuilt hub was so smooth and quiet, such a satisfying piece of work, that I wasn't at all upset to learn that I had lost my metaphorical bearings after all: I was on the wrong bike trail, headed out of downtown instead of into it!  (It helped that the rain had also stopped by this time.)

As it turned out, the trail along the river doesn't actually exist yet.  No matter, I found a good route into downtown and arrived at the main library only about 3 hours later than I'd intended!

Now, the main Cincinnati library is an awe-inspiring place, nearly two city blocks in area and six stories tall (including basements).  Wow!  By the time I'd photocopied the Indiana maps I needed, it was 2:30, and I was sorely tempted to stop at the library cafe (!) for a meal.

Instead I headed out to my bike, where the first of several people informed me that according to a recent news story, Kryptonite brand locks such as mine can be picked with a ballpoint pen.  Good to know, I guess, though I have to question the motivation of the guy who broke the story.

I went to pick up my voicemail, thinking Bill might have called with info about someplace I could stay the night, and I found that my AT&T number had been disconnected -- by Verizon!  After half an hour on the phone with Verizon, we had the matter straightened out, and my number is now transferred at last to my new phone.

So it was probably 3:30 by the time I left downtown: rush hour.  The route I had chosen after studying library maps of the city was a very revealing cross-section of the town, which is to say it took me through a very seedy neighborhood... I later found out it hadn't yet recovered from the previous year's race riots!  It also had a hill that was well over a mile long, so the people in this neighborhood got a good long look at me as I struggled by at about 1 mile an hour, like a one-man parade.  On the far side of the hill I hit some more potholes at high speed, and I broke another hose clamp on my trailer hitch!

As I was putting a new hose clamp on the hitch, a cyclist stopped to talk with me.  He's hoping to do some long-distance touring of his own, but so far he only goes short distances in town; in fact he was thinking of riding the bus home.  But since I was heading his way, he offered to show me a route that would be less hilly and less trafficked.  By the time we had ridden a few miles, he had offered to feed me dinner and let me camp in his back yard!

So my new hosts and benefactors are Mike Goldschmidt and his mother Fran, both very interesting and generous people.  I tried to make their hospitality worth their while by showing them travel photos and playing the autoharp, but really my only option is to "pay it forward," as they say.

So nothing today turned out quite as planned, but rather better.  I can live with that!

Total distance: 22.74 mi

View Wheeled Migration in a larger map