Friday, June 6, 2014
After a particularly nasty time getting through the Detroit area from home Friday morning, I arrived at the Sawmill Creek Resort near Huron, Ohio just before noon. We were scheduled for a short 1:00PM “tune-up ride”, so I was very pleased that my room was available well ahead of the official hotel check-in time, and after unloading my bike and luggage I made my way to the ride’s registration area.
My first good impression of the Country Roads (OCRBT) outfit came from the swag bag that they handed me. When I got back to my room with it, I found a number of unique items that all had their logo on them, including the swag bag itself (one of those drawstring shoulder bags), a drink can sleeve, a small wine glass, and even a really nice cycling cap (good for those of us who are thinning on top!). In addition, there were detailed cue sheets, route maps, and detail maps of the various towns along the way. This was going to be a well-supported tour indeed!
The room itself was a bit of a disappointment. I had stayed at this resort 30 or more years before when it was relatively new, and my impression was that the rooms were more than a little in need of refurbishment. Everything was clean and neat, but somewhat out of date by current standards. At least they had Wifi, but in my room the signal was pretty weak (others had much better signals).
Around 1PM I was suited up and ready for the first ride. As on every day, there was no necessity or preference for riding in any sort of group, but this was the first opportunity to meet my fellow riders. My first impression was that I’d fallen in with a bunch of hard-core roadies. All I saw was a lot of carbon fiber and I wondered if I’d have been better off bringing my Cannondale instead of my older, clunkier aluminum bike with its rack and trunk bag. But I do know what works for me on a tour, and it’s basically to never not have something with me when I need it out on the road. So the Sequoia would have to do.
Our 27-mile loop took us from the resort into downtown Sandusky. This was nobody’s favorite road, but at least I only had to do it once. The downtown area had actually been taken over by motorcyclists enjoying the last days of Ohio Bike Week, but on bicycles we had no trouble getting through the streets that had been closed to regular traffic. This also afforded people their first views of Lake Erie (actually Sandusky Bay). We could also see the tops of the roller coasters out on Cedar Point. (As an aside, the next morning the water main going out to Cedar Point broke and they had to shut down the entire park — including the on-site hotels — for the entire weekend!)
Getting out of the downtown area, we had our daily catered rest stop where water, drinks, snacks, and fruit were available. The next not-to-be-missed stop was at the main production facility and store for Toft’s Dairy, which is the popular local ice cream producer for the area. I got a “kid size” cone, and at three scoops I’d have to say that it was the largest kid-size cone I’ve ever seen! I’m not sure who could eat any of the full-size offerings! In any case, it was a good recommendation and most of us stopped and partook of the offerings.
From there we headed inland (south) a ways and then headed east on Bogart and Boos Roads to get back to the resort. This was also not one of my favorites. For one thing, it was getting late on a Friday afternoon and the traffic had picked up a good bit. But mainly, we had an east wind to contend with on this return leg — something that became somewhat of a tradition over the next few days. So even though it was a short ride overall, I was glad to get back so I could shower and get ready for the first day’s reception and dinner.
I do have to say that the food service at Sawmill Creek was excellent. It was cool, but nice enough to be outdoors, so we all gathered at about 5:30 for our first “wine and cheese reception.” It was all set up buffet-style by the hotel, and I was pleased to find that OCRBT had laid in a good stock of beer and ale from the Great Lakes Brewing Company of Cleveland. A Commodore Perry IPA started the week off for me, followed by an excellent sit-down dinner at outside tables where we started to get to know each other. It was interesting that people were here from places like Washington, Idaho, Minnesota, Illinois, and Washington D.C. In fact, I had probably come the least distance of anyone on the tour. We were off to a great start!