Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Day 33 - August 6 - Nasty dogs, big riding lawnmowers and depressing scenes in Mansfield OH

Day 33 - August 6 -  Delphos, OH to Mansfield, OH- 101.9 miles (164.0 kms) - total so far; 2723.3 miles (4382.7 kms)

Distance: 101.9  miles (164.0 kms)
Total time: 9hrs53 mins (including lunch stop, and lots of stops in Mansfield and vicinity) 
Average Moving Speed: 12.7mph (20.4 kph)
Maximum Speed:31.3mph (50.4 kph) 
Calories burned: 4548
Elevation gained: 2041 ft (622 meters)

Weather: Cloudy in the morning with the threat of rain. Getting more humid and a typical Midwest summer's day when the sun appeared about noon. Temperatures rose to 85F (30C) with south and south east winds in my face all day.  The head-diagonal winds were annoying.

Powered by:    Breakfast - two bowls of Raisin Bran,  yogurt, a bagel, a banana, and lots of orange juice.  Lunch of Subway veggie sandwich and yogurt parfait,  1 large protein bar, 1 liter of Gatorade and 4 liters of water. 

It was going to be a long day, not only because it would be 100 miles but an annoying head-diagonal wind from the south-east was also promised for the whole day.  The good part was that I would be on the historic Lincoln highway for almost the whole distance, a nearly traffic-free two-lane highway that goes through the center of small towns and passes the front door of farm and suburban houses.  The route was almost flat for the first 50 miles with the biggest bump corresponding to an overpass over a busy highway.  As has been evident since I reached Minnesota, many houses have patriotic displays frequently accompanied by religious iconography.  The most arresting sight was a reproduction of the crosses of Calvary on a large private lawn.  I suppose that rural areas don't have the kinds of legal restrictions as urban areas as I can't imagine such a display in most towns and suburbs.

Certainly got my attention; a different kind of lawn ornament

 A little redundant

One of the themes in many cross-country blogs is the risk from dogs.  I have not thought much about this since I saw or heard few dogs for the past 2500 miles but that is now changing.  Since Chicago, I have been chased by a few dogs as riding the back roads brings me onto their territories.  If the owners are outside, they yell at the dogs who quickly give up the chase.  But one attack today took me by complete surprise.  I was riding as a steady speed when a large dog - a mix of German Shepherd and labrador, I think - charged out of a soybean field and attempted to bite me.  My flight reflex kicked in quickly and I sped up to at least 20mph as the dog chased.  After about 400 meters, he gave up the chase, either because he was tired, confident that he had protected his property, or because I had left his territory.   

A huge wall mural in Bucyrus - a bit Soviet-like too

Close-up of the Norman Rockwell-eques town scene on the mural

In Bucyrus, I spent some time admiring a huge wall mural that was painted about 20 years ago in a Norman Rockwell style.  The street scene could be from a cover of the Saturday Evening Post of the 1930s and it's framed by a worker (industry) and a woman holding wheat sheafs (agriculture) in a very Soviet-style motif.  When I mentioned this comparison to one of the people restoring the mural, he did not seem amused.

One of many riding lawn mower jockeys I saw today

Another puzzle that I have not solved is the mystery of the giant lawns in the Midwest rural areas. While present in other parts of the country, they seem prevalent in the flat parts of the prairie states.  While some lawns surround farm houses that date from before 1900, most seem to belong to suburban-like houses built since World War II.  Because the lawns are so huge, homeowners have giant riding lawnmowers and I passed hundreds of them out driving around their lawns in a rhythmic patterns of ever smaller circles.  I wondered is it a sport, a bit of mindless riding, or a chore? Whatever it is, it seems pointless to me.

Historic marker on the old Lincoln Highway in Crestline

Arriving in Mansfield, a midsized mid-Ohio city of about 50,000, was depressing. On the outskirts is a closed large General Motors plant (1958-2010) and beside it, a large shopping mall that is also mostly empty and shut.  The biggest tenant was Macys and it closed its large store in 2006, moving to smaller quarters elsewhere in the mall.   The mall and the factory are in Ontario, a suburb that also has the usual strip development.  Moving on into Mansfield itself took me through a neighborhood with lots of abandoned houses and some that looked like they were ready to collapse. Downtown was dead at 6pm and the whole atmosphere was depressing,

Derelict GM factory in Ontario being demolished

Derelict factory -corporation and union

Derelict part (formerly Macys) of an almost empty shopping mall near the derelict factory

 "Soon" is a little imprecise - no point in getting ready too early

Abandoned houses in Mansfield

Tomorrow I head for the hills as my routing takes me to SE Ohio on the way to Southwest Pennsylvania. I hope my legs remember how to climb.

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