Seriously, I’ve built up like a hierarchy of civilization in my head for the towns I pass through.
Level 1: Gas station. Preferably of a recognizable brand, but as long as it’s clean(ish) and brightly lit, stocked with food/drink that was made in the last decade, it passes.
Level 2: Fast food chain. Half points if it’s inside one of the aforementioned gas stations, but it still counts. (Things like the gristly chicken tenders I tried to eat for lunch in a Marathon gas station in Knightstown, Indiana today do not count.)
Level 3: Stoplights. Yes, stoplights. I never would have imagined the way that my heart picks up a little at the sight of an actual stoplight intersection in the distance. Multiple-stoplight towns about bring a tear to my eye.
Level 4: Restaurants! Actual, freestanding restaurants that don’t close at 1pm. Whenever I see one, I think to myself, like, OK, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to die here.
You get the point.
Anyway, 54 miles today! Longest I’ve ever actually done in one stretch, and it was… actually, not bad. The weather gods smiled on me and it stayed reasonably cool and overcast, drizzling again without actual rain. The roads were pretty decent — well, road, since apparently I’m just going to live and die on Highway 40 forfuckingever, but in 50-odd miles of riding on the shoulder/in a lane of a fairly busy highway, not one person honked at me or yelled out their window to get off the road or harassed me at all. So that’s a nice anomaly.
My body must be beginning to adjust, though, because while there were a few difficult bits, I actually more or less felt just as good for the last few miles in Richmond as I did the first few miles in Greenfield. Knees wonky, but that’s not gonna change, and my legs are getting strong enough to start to compensate on hills; hands and back still and weird, but not really painful. Muscles pretty much fine. My ass doesn’t even really hurt!
I may or may not have gotten a little manic biking the last few miles through Richmond. I put on a playlist of old U2 songs and rode along the main road, singing along and occasionally playing drums on my handlebars.
Manic is, really, a nice change.
Tomorrow I’m off to Dayton, OH — which will be the first time I’ve biked through an entire state, border to border! (“Indiana: At Least It’s Not Illinois”) — and I’ll be off my bike til probably the weekend; staying with a friend over Labor Day, heading to Detroit via bus on Tuesday, coming back next weekend and hopefully hanging out with another friend and then…
And then —
Oh fuck I have no idea. Columbus, then Pittsburgh, or something?