A very different Birmingham

Day 14 – to Birmingham, Ohio – 45 miles

I set off with 2 other riders, we emerge into a group of 6 for a while then 3 of us take a wrong uphill turn. We decide against going back down to cycle up the hill from a different angle & reroute. It’s another hot sunny day & the fierce wind brings no relief – it is also hot & blowing against us. We reflect that we only notice the winds against us – when there are tailwinds we just take pride in our speed. We lose Jonathan to a fruit stall on the side of the road & later learn he stopped for a nap! So somehow I find myself riding with Adam , one if the fastest in the group & generally number 1 arrival. I keep good pace (Adam has the GPS) & he later admits surprise,  particularly as his speedometer clocked him as going 14 mph for some time. About 5 miles way from our destination I need to take a break & let Adam go on. I sit under a tree at the end of a driveway eating peanut butter on a hot dog bun. I muster up the energy to cycle the last 5 miles. I am assisted by Alanis Morissette, who I sing & scream to along the way – taking Jess’ advise to realise the trauma from my fall. It makes me feel a lot better until I am almost run over trying to take a photo of the ‘Welcome to Birmingham’ sign for the folks back home in the Midlands.  I realise that my phone has been fried underneath the solar panel that I’ve had bungee-d on the back of my bike (so I can’t even post the photo!)

<imagine photo here>

I make it to our host second of the pack. I saviour the fluke. Bob welcomes us with his friend Roy. I wonder if their Trump sticker is tongue in cheek. Bob has 2 pet wolves… well, close enough – one is 90% wolf, the other 80%. I say hello & move to the stroke too quickly, which is received with a warning bite to the air. Bob says that they are just fine – they sleep in his bed – he tells me not to be scared of them “or they’ll mess with you” & to be careful of putting my face too close. I avoid the wolves. One pees on Elle’s panniers. Bob also has another much smaller dog, who walks with a limp & is not allowed to be alone with the wolves in case they view him as prey & eat him. I almost sit in his poo.

We walk to the local bar, which is closed on Sundays, & instead buy what groceries we can from Dollar General. The other food shopping option is the gas station or a drive 6 miles out of town. Ohio makes me reflect upon the term ‘food desert’, something that I have heard but never really experienced before. I tell the cashier in Dollar General that I brought my own bag & he says, “oh great, your own  bag” & fills up a plastic carrier bag anyway. I complain about this to anyone who will listen. When we return our host has offered to drive to the real grocery store & Sarah joins them before making a Spanish rice dish for everybody to have dinner. We have now got into the habit of having a ‘help yourself, dumpster food’ area & tonight’s is a huge table including fresh fruit, vegetables, cakes, bread & more. We camp in Bob’s front, back & neighbours garden. He is delighted that we’ve made ourselves at home.

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