Sunday, June 8, 2014

Downtown Vermilion, Ohio

Most people were up early in the breakfast room, hoping to get started on the day’s ride before the forecast rain hit. Unfortunately, it started just about the time I walked outside at 7:30 and the radar images showed that there wasn’t much chance of it clearing up any time soon. A good bit of the route was along a busy road, and I recalled from my experience in the 2009 Michigander that dirty road spray is a lot harder to deal with than what’s falling from the sky! One thing nice about a situation like this is that it makes it easy to just call it and take a day off, which is what all but two people in the group decided to do (and even they just rode directly to our next hotel).

Joe of BCR had already suggested that, since we all had our cars at Sawmill Creek and our next hotel in Vermilion was only 20 minutes away, we could just drive there with our bikes and be ready for the next day. This is what we almost all elected to do. I changed out of my riding gear, packed, checked out, and arrived at the Holiday Inn Express in Vermilion by about 10:30.

Some really good stuff inside this downtown shop!

Of course there were no rooms available since they had been full the night before with all the Cedar Point refugees and were just starting their housekeeping run. But the desk clerk put me on the list to get one of the first ones that became available. Later, others started arriving and it seemed like a good time for lunch. After eating some fast food and being “detoured” to Brummer’s Chocolates in downtown Vermilion, I returned to find that I could get into my room.

By this time it actually seemed to be clearing, so I decided to start out and ride a truncated version of the day’s route, which was to have taken us out on a long loop through Lorain before returning to Vermilion. After changing into my riding clothes and getting the bike ready to go, just as I was about to actually shove off it started raining again! I took that as a sign, returned to my room with the bike, changed once again, and decided to just get in my car and drive the day’s route.

The river flows through a limestone-walled gorge

Since this is a biking blog, I won’t go into the details, but I did enjoy seeing the waterfront and downtown areas of Lorain before heading back to the hotel. One spot where I stopped to get out and take a few pictures was where the road dropped down quite deeply into the gorge of the Vermilion River, crossing a bridge before climbing up the other side. We had been warned about this and indeed it probably would have been the steepest climb of the tour (but worse if we had been going in the other direction!).

After a catered-in dinner at the hotel, we were again free for the evening and I took the opportunity to do a bit of exploring in Vermilion. They have a very nice, touristy downtown — albeit quiet on this pre-season Sunday night — and I have to say that this was my favorite place that we spent time in. Brummer’s, among others, certainly profited from our visit!

The trains come through here very frequently and at quite a clip!

As I mentioned in the previous day’s post, there is a lot of train traffic in this area due to its being the shortest path between the northeast coast and Chicago, as well as points westward. There is a set of tracks running right next to the downtown shopping area that claims to have 120 trains a day go through, and indeed in the time that I was there I saw one about every 10-15 minutes. My son had an obsession with trains for several years when he was young, and I remember some of my happiest times in those days were when the two of us went off somewhere — sometimes to northern Ohio — to do some train watching. As I watched the trains go rumbling past, it really brought back some fond memories.

Plenty of things to spend your money on in here

Another business worth mentioning was Bicycle Bill’s cycle shop. At first glance it hardly seemed worth going into, as it appeared quite small from the front and I figured it would just be a place where people locally bought kids’ bikes and such. So I was hugely impressed when I walked in and discovered that it was a lot deeper than it had looked and was well stocked with a complete inventory of Specialized and Giant bikes, plus a good selection of clothing, tools, parts, and accessories. A number of others also dropped by, and all I can say is that cyclists + rainy day + bike shop + credit card = $$$ for Bicycle Bill (and I picked up a really nice jersey with their logo on it!).

As the sun was setting, I walked down a street that ended at a small beach and found some others of our group there waiting to watch the sun set into the lake. This is always a tradition at a lakeside or seaside venue, and it didn’t disappoint as the sun finally disappeared in an orange glow. What was even better was that the sky was clearing, promising good riding conditions for the morrow.

Sunset at the Vermilion lighthouse.
Categories: Tours

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