While cycling with 30 other young people (we are all between 18 and 28), adventures are bound to happen. And today was chock full of them! From Akron to Kenyon College is around 84 miles–plenty of time to get into trouble.
I started the day with Team Pie–our mission statement, as penned by Maggie was: not too slow, not too fast, always looking for pie. We heard from a trip leader from last year that there were Amish pie stands everywhere in Ohio, and we were determined to find them. Armed with one fork for the five of us, we rode into the early morning sun.
Along with rumors about pie, the two resident Ohio born Bike and Builders spread ideas of Ohio’s flatness to the group. Despite my trip leader’s warnings about the day’s hills, I chose to believe that they were lying. Ohio seems like it should be a flat state.
It is not. There also wasn’t a single pie.
Through the rolling hills, Team Pie looked for sweet treats, chatted, stretched, and played two truths and a lie. I learned that Sam fell and bent his front two teeth out at a 90 degree angle (ouch), Maggie was voted most likely to write Gossip Girl (I’ll remember that before I share any secrets), and Erin was chased by wild dogs in Mongolia. The people I am traveling across the country with this summer are an insane bunch.
Before we knew it, lunch was over and we were slowly baking in the sun and asphalt. Shade was scarce, my water was hot in my camelbac, and the hills really started rolling in as I started to lose my oomph. And then we saw it–a lake with other Bike and Builders playing in the giant spray shooting out of its very center. Perfection.
I took off my shoes, socks, helmet and jersey before Team Pie was fully off their bikes. Sinking my feet into the deep mud was delightfully sickening, and in an instant I was swimming towards the cold water showering my friends. The guys in my team wanted to swim, but didn’t want to get their biking shorts wet (sitting on a wet pad isn’t fun, not that I cared). They solved the problem by sneaking behind a bush and splashing into the water covering themselves.
The lake was directly next to the road. There was no tree covering, or even distance from the open road. And yet, when the guys flopped into the water bare-bummed, all the rest of us followed suit, deciding the idea was genius. With our shorts drying, we swam far from the dock on which they were tanning.
I was the one to see the golf cart first–the golf cart that stopped by the few who weren’t swimming, and then sped up to come directly, angrily to the dock. I alerted the others, and then swam as fast as I could towards my shorts. The man was out of his golf cart, directly above us when I got to my shorts, and attempted to subtley clothe myself. Guys and girls alike were streaming out of the lake, giggling. As two of our most charming cyclist talked to the man, who turned out to be lovely, Dan’s (a fellow member of Team Pie) parents drove up. Perfect timing!
I got dressed and continued cycling, without Team Pie, muddy shorts and all. The hills rose to greet me, as I became more and more disheartened. I threw myself the biggest pity-party, complete with a few forced tears. I couldn’t even enjoy my misery, because I knew I was being ridiculous, and because 30 other cyclists were dealing with the same stuff, much more gracefully. My pity gave way to anger and I yelled my way up and down a few “rolling” miles. I was calming down when I was flagged over by a group of faster riders. They had found a detour through a bike path!
Looking forward to only ten more flat miles, a decrease of 8 miles and tons of hills, we cycled off. At the head of the path, a family told us that the bad storm that had left many without power yesterday, had blown over many trees on the path, making it impassable. I was all for going anyways–what do people with a baby know about stepping over a few twigs? Reason number one people shouldn’t listen to me.
A group of 15 or so of us headed down the path. There were twigs strewn everywhere, but it was fun dodging them. The first tree down we encountered had a path around it on the side. Easy! The second, third, and forth trees were no problem. Then came the fifth. No path around, so we set up an assembly line, hauling bikes over. I loved it! But when we came to the first road, about a mile into the path, we encountered a huge tree, seemingly impassable. Most people were for heading up the road, and back-tracking back onto our course. I am stubborn, and so are my two new adventure buddies: a cute couple named Nick and Mary Shea.
We picked up our bikes, and tore through the thorns on one side of the massive tree. It hurt, but it felt so good to go around! We were forging our own way, breaking through obsticles in our way. The fourth or fifth tree after the break in our group almost got us. I ran into a pricker bush that stuck into my skin, tens of the prickers stuck with me, and the mud we treked through smelled. We didn’t know if we could make it down the huge drop and back up it again, but somehow our pig-headed ness got us through. Victory was ours!
After another mile of bushwacking, we came to another road, and threw in the towel. We were much too late to be hacking through the woods, as much fun as it was. So we picked up a new road, and made it to Kenyon College as the second group! We couldn’t believe that our crazy route had not only been the absolute best time ever, but also cut at least half an hour off our time!
We were rewarded with warm showers, and dorm beds with real linen! It is a huge luxury, after sleeping in sleeping bags on (and off) of our thermarests for three weeks now. What an amazing day!