Summary – day 05 – Rochester to Muncie (Monday 24 June)

Estimated mileage: 92 actual: 87.58

Avg. speed: 13.9 mph

Cumulative distance: 214.08 miles

Woke up feeling a bit stiff and sore
That was a long day in the saddle yesterday! I have had quite a sore back in the weeks leading up to our holiday – I think caused by too much sitting down and marking! My physiotherapist has advised that I stretch every half hour or so when I’m’ riding, which I’ve been trying to do. In a headwind on a bicycle though, the temptation is to hunch down as low as possible and for as long as possible – causing my back to scream in pain. I hate this because I’ve cycled all my life and it’s never hurt – cycling shouldn’t hurt at all. It doesn’t distract me too much from enjoying the trip, but I fervently wish it wasn’t this way. I’m taking anti-inflamatories and I hope that as we head further east there’ll be less of a headwind and therefore less demand for taking up a back-breakingly low position on the bike.

By the time we’d eaten last night, we realised that the Comfort Inn’s hotel laundry had closed, why I’ll never understand – it’s not as if it was staffed! We had to get up early to wash our kit and then left everything to dry in our room with the heating turned up while we had breakfast.

The Comfort Inn was proving to be very adroit at not giving much comfort. The buffet breakfast had almost nothing that I would eat and I was really glad that we picked up that soya milk last night.

We left Rochester really late at 11.30. It took ages to dry our cycling gear and then as we were about to go I couldn’t find my sunglasses – expensive Oakley’s and this is my third pair! I’ve managed to lose the last two! I was sure that I’d left them on the table in our room. Out at reception Matthew was calling Janet, he said that he didn’t have my sunglasses and hadn’t picked them up. He suggested that maybe I’d packed them in my bag. I knew that I hadn’t – why would I do that if I wanted to wear them? Also they have a little case to stop them getting squished in my bag and I still had that – it was empty. I went back to our room and turned it upside down – the sunglasses were not there. This was becoming annoyingly puzzling. Back in the lobby I had no choice but to begin to unpack my bag. Matthew was still speaking to Janet. No glasses in my bag. By the time he came off the phone I’m near boiling point with frustration. He must have picked them up. I insisted that he check his bag. He (rather too languidly for my liking) went over to his bike to start checking his bag. Before he’d even opened his bag he found that my sunglasses were nestled inside his helmet, which was hanging from his handle bars. “Here they are,” he said – and handed over my sunglasses to me. I was stunned. (Almost) speechless. “Aren’t you going to say sorry?” I asked. “I’ll say sorry, if it’ll make you happy”, he replied. I said “I don’t want you to say sorry if it makes me happy, I want you to say sorry because you are sorry”. *fume*. The receptionist was pottering about and I asked her if there’d ever been a murder committed in the hotel – amazingly, apparently not.

This wasn’t the best start to the day. But what is the best thing to lift a frayed temperament? A lovely long bike ride through beautiful countryside, of course. Guess what? Matthew had discovered something called The Nickel Plate Trail, (www.nickelplatetrail.org). It runs along the route of a disused railway line. The Nickel Plate Trail cycleway started in Rochester and runs for 40 miles or so to Kokomo. We were going along for about 20 miles as far as Peru. It was absolutely stunning. Mile after mile of flat, gently curving, well-surfaced road. Along the route we saw some beautiful wildlife: little yellow birds and slightly bigger dark red birds. also lots of little squirrel-type critters, but with thinner tails and mustard coloured stripes on their back. They’re a bit like chipmunks. They seemed to be playing chicken with us – they would often scamper out from the undergrowth on one side of the track to the other. It was a bit disconcerting. The scenery was fantastic and the trees offered lots of shade. The track was really quiet, though, which was puzzling. We saw four other cyclists in 20 miles. If this was in western Europe it’d be rammed with cyclists I’m sure! The Nickel Plate Trail gets the Magic Moment of the Day award and it really perked me up. We were being quite civil to each other after a few miles!

On the Nickel Plate Trail: puncture #2 Matthew rear, (again). Grrr … we replaced the inner tube but when we reflated it the tyre was not sitting properly on the rim. An annoying bulbous area caused his bicycle to bump up and down constantly. This is not ideal, of course. So the tyre and inner tube were taken out an refitted again. Same problem. Grrr … We let some air out if the tyre, which reduced the problem somewhat, but he could not go on like this for long. We were losing quite a bit of time by now and I thought that there was likely to be a bicycle shop in Peru – so we set off – with Matthew’s bottom lifting on the air slightly with every revolution of his back wheel!

In central Peru there was a big classical stone town hall, which looked fantastic on its lawn with its pretty flower beds surrounding it. Elsewhere there were some nice grand buildings, but everywhere apart from the town hall looked a little bit run down.

At the crossroads by the town hall I spotted a young man on a bicycle. I shouted over to him to ask if there was a bicycle store nearby? He stared at me, shrugged his shoulders and kept riding. I saw that he was wearing earphones, so I suspect that he didn’t hear me!

The gods of cycling were smiling on us today though. We took a wrong turn then stopped to check our maps. By sheer, joyful coincidence we happened to find ourselves outside
Breakaway Bikes in Peru, (www.breakawaybike.com).

They had some really nice jerseys and hired bikes too – a couple were just leaving the store on hired Raleighs – very nice!

Zac and Shannon ran Breakaway Bikes and Tony was wrenching. I explained the problem with Matthew’s bike and said that I wanted a new rear tyre,(preferably one that wouldn’t puncture twice in two days or cause the wheel to deform. Zac really kindly fitted the new tyre and patiently made it fit perfectly on the rim, (we decided to go for a 25mm wide rather than a 23mm which was on, these should be more stable and will offer better cornering grip – hopefully more resistance to punctures, too!).

Zac said that the only time they’d been to Europe was when they’d been to Finland for his brother’s wedding. We talked about cycling in Europe. I’d love to ride to Helsinki and visit Sibelius’ house.

There was an amusing conversation in the bike shop – he was admiring our bikes, while she was admiring our shoes. This is almost the perfect conversation to have with us – I’m obsessed with bikes and Matthew has something of a shoe fixation – I sometimes call him the Imelda Marcos of Southville!

We had to get on our way, so we paid and left. There was some lovely rolling countryside, but it was very hot. As we turned south, ferocious headwinds blew at us – really slowing us down and bringing our average speed right down. On this final leg today we were starting to wish we’d planned a trip from Washington DC to Chicago!

A high point was passing through the little hamlet of Matthews. We had to stop and get a picture next to the sign – although some dogs in an adjacent garden were going absolutely crazy at the time and we were a little anxious in case they escaped.

Just past Gaston we came across an access on to the Cardinal Greenway – another cycle and walking route that gave us a lovely end to the day – only about 6 miles, but we were protected from the wind and on a lovely flat surface.

We arrived at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Muncie at 8:30 – later than we’d hoped, but we’d set off late and that darned wind had really taken its toll.

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