January to June 5, 2014.
Day 0 of this trip started for me way back in January as I was already going stir-crazy from experiencing the worst winter weather in my 50 years living in southeast Michigan. I was searching around on the web for a new and different tour to book when I found the Buckeye Country Roads Bike Tours web site. I was immediately impressed by the quality of the information that I found there, and decided that their Erie Shores & Islands trip would fit my requirements for my first foray into high-end road bike touring:
- Close enough to drive to with no additional overnight stays required (actually only a 3-hour drive away).
- Road distances of 50-60 miles on the longer routes with options for shorter routes just in case.
- Flat roads (a necessity for that early in the season!).
- Promising-looking accommodations and sightseeing opportunities.
- A bit unique with the ferry rides and visits to islands.
- Good organization from what I could tell from the available web pages and rider guides.
Another thing in its favor is that, while growing up in Cincinnati, my family vacationed at a resort in that area of northern Ohio several times from the late 1940s to 1960 and I was excited at the possibility of revisiting places that I can still remember so well. I was not that interested in the wine-and-cheese aspects of the trip, but was pretty sure that I could find plenty of other places of interest along the way.
Packing for one of these trips is always a bit daunting, especially at this time of year when the weather is so unpredictable, but I was able to fit everything into one suitcase and load it — along with my bike — into my car on Thursday so that I could get to our first lodgings by noon the next day.
After anticipating it for several months, the trip was on!