Week Six: Isaiah Maynard’s Cross Country Ride

You can't really tell, but that's a new rear tire. My old one was absolutely ruined beyond repair. I blame the Michigan roads. — Photo by Isaiah Maynard

Here we go: Week Six

I began my week by getting off the ferry in Muskegon, Michigan. I almost missed the ferry to Muskegon — if you think missing the boat to the Island and having to wait 45 minutes is bad, you’ve got another thing coming. If I missed this ferry I would have had to wait seven hours for the next one, and then stay overnight in Muskegon once I got there. Anyhow, after biking five miles past the ferry terminal, I realized my mistake, and hustled at 26 miles an hour the whole way back the way I came, making the boat as the last passenger. I was a sweaty mess, and was left to perspire on deck, while I waited for my body to relax. The boat left, and I said goodbye to Milwaukee, and headed to a chair to take a three-hour nap — the first nap I’ve had since beginning this adventure. After the 50-mile trip, and after crossing a time zone, I arrived in Muskegon…hungry.

As I was eating my pizza, the employee of the restaurant told me about a recent shooting in town — apparently, Muskegon Heights is pretty “hood” — which warranted a speedy exit out of town. It was around five o’clock, and I didn’t feel like biking to Grand Rapids, so instead I settled for the town of Grand Haven, and as similar as the name is to Vineyard Haven, the similarities were outstanding. It was a summer community, and I arrived later in the evening. I was staying with a couple I met through Warmshowers, and they graciously offered me a place to stay, regardless of my late notice. Brett ushered me down to the Lake, insisting that I swim. Hesitant at first, I eventually rushed into the fresh water. I am very happy I did, because it wouldn’t have felt right to have gotten that close to the Lake Michigan, but not swim! The next morning I left Grand Haven, and met someone with a Black Dog tee-shirt! I felt at home in that grocery store parking lot, I really did.

The following days were riddled with adventure. Michigan (for those of you who have been there, you’ll attest to what I am saying) has the absolute, hands-down, worst roads in the U.S. It was so bad that when I eventually arrived on a paved road, I looked up, “I must be in Ohio!” Sure enough, there in the bushes was a small, humble sign, “Ohio State Line”.

Ohio has some of the best biking trails I have encountered, and that’s saying a lot because Wisconsin was excellent! It was like a highway system for bicycles and power-joggers. Upon entering Ohio I came to a fascinating discovery, a certain kind of “AHA” moment. The point at which I am at in my trip can be directly related to the last day of a vacation — the day you are travelling home — you know, when as soon as you turn in your hotel keys you are in total “Get me to my house — now” mode? As soon as you begin to make the trip back, all you can focus on is getting home. Then, just as you get home, you find yourself wishing you were back on vacation, or even travelling home. That’s where I am, except I am totally aware of the fact I am in travel mode, so I can take an “outside” look into my trip, and remind myself to enjoy every single moment like it isn’t going to last, because as soon as I step off the ferry in Vineyard Haven (I really hope I don’t get one to O.B.) the trip is…done.

The craziest thing happened this week too! If you’re following along on my facebook page, you’ve seen it already (www.facebook.com/followmearossamerica) but anyway;

Perhaps the most intense “Small world” incident happened to me a few hours after leaving my cousin Ernie. Let me explain.

Oh wait; let me give you background information on my whereabouts first. I am on Route 303 in Ohio, a nondescript, backwoods type of highway that parallels the interstate. I want to emphasize that this is not part of a heavily trafficked bike route either. I have essentially been making up my route on a day-to-day basis now, so these towns are really surprised when they see me, it’s pretty cool.

So, here I am, I am on the side of the highway, with my map out. In Ohio. A maroon car pulls over in front of me, I glance up, then back down. “Do you need some help?” I look back up, “No, I’m all set, just double checking my route, thank you though!” The man approaches me anyway, he asks where I am headed, but as he gets closer I began to realize something — I’ve met this man.

“Mike!” He looks at me with utter confusion, “Yeah?” I begin to explain myself, “Remember me? Isaiah. We met in Idaho, you were headed to the coast of Washington, I was with Jay and Molly!” Mike looks at me with a huge grin: he totally remembers. We had met about four and a half weeks ago, in a small town in Idaho, and now, here we were in basically the middle of why-the-hell-would-we-meet-here Ohio, face to face. What a small world! We spoke for a few minutes before he had to get going. Turns out he lived at the top of the hill, just a mile away, yet everything in the universe had aligned in such a way that we encountered each other right there.

My week has been pretty delightful, magical, exhausting and downright exciting. I am currently in a town called Chardon, and I got chased by a savage thunderstorm with lightning cracking all around me for 12 miles! I had to take cover in a DQ for 40 minutes, and then dash across the street to a motel; fortunately I got the very last room available. I’m all cooped up, writing and cleaning my bike — the good life.

I want to thank my Island sponsors: without all of your help this trip wouldn’t have happened. I mean it! Sarah and Andrew, from Summer Shades, the glasses are the best thing ever. I wear them every day! Also, a huge thank you to my Uncle Gary from Holmes Hole Builders, Paul Lazes from Rock Pond Kitchens, and I should also thank my non-Island sponsors, Big Agnes, Honey Stinger and Jesklein Photography (I love you, Mom!).

I’m 760 miles from the Island, which won’t take long to cover. Also, I’m working with my Dad and his girlfriend Jenn to get a fundraiser event set up, sometime around August 20th. It will also be an end-of-the-trip party, and I’m working on getting a presentation together, with Q&A involved. I think it will be a great event, and I know there is a lot of community support on the Island, which means so much to me!