Day 36
AC's Northern Tier route goes through Payne Ohio which is due east of Fort Wayne. I don't remember (or have a map that shows) the road number, but the road from New Haven to Payne parallels the railroad tracks going east. Good weather and a nice flat rural road with a bit of a tail wind made the 15 mile ride to Payne very pleasant. In Payne I had breakfast at a downtown cafe and, while I was eating I saw another tourist heading north on the AC route. I hoped to catch him that day, but either he was too fast or I passed him during one of the several deviations I made from the route. I did not see another tourist during the remainder of my trip. Where were you?

I lost the AC route before I got to Paulding and ended up going out of that town on 111/127 North. Then, after 3 miles of busy road with a narrow shoulder, I cut east to rejoin the route. The AC route through Ohio really is very nice, with good rural roads and light traffic. It is also quite pretty as it follows river valleys through small and medium sized towns. Flat agricultural land in the west gives way to rolling hills as you travel east. Nice.

A Gleaner harvesting wheat in western Ohio

After Defiance (fairly bad traffic through town, great riding leaving town along the Maumee river) the route switches to a tow path where you are supposed to walk your bike for 3 miles. I chose to ride along the river instead. Nice riding. I stopped for lunch in Napoleon, which has the most ornate courthouse I have ever seen, but I had to settle for eating in a bar because the restaurants weren't downtown. The folks in the bar were friendly, but the food wasn't great. Leaving Napoleon I saw a large Campbell Soup plant; it seemed to go on for a mile. It smelled good, even though I had just eaten.

The route follows the river up to Grand Rapids. Very pretty and quite touristy. Too many RVs. After Grand Rapids the route is very rural, running through farming country with no services till Bowling Green. As I rode this section I watched a line of storms form and start dumping rain to the south and west. When the route turned south, it put me on an intersection course with those storms. It turned east again before reaching the rain, but it was obvious that, if I followed the route through Bowling Green, I was going to get wet.

The AC route enters Bowling Green on Poe Road and then diverts south around the town. Since I didn't want to go south, I stayed on Poe Road. The edge of the rain reached me in Bowling Green so I stopped for desert. It only sprinkled a little where I stopped but, as I rode on east, the road was wet for much of the rest of the day. Poe Road wasn't bad (or great) and it took me by Bowling Green College which I wanted to see. Poe Road deteriorates east of town, but there is little traffic on that part. It ends at highway 105 and turning left there put me back on the AC route having saved 3.5 miles of riding and avoided a lot of rain.

After Bowling Green, which is not pretty, the route is quite nice. Not much in the way of services, but very nice riding. South of Pemberville, the route turned east on Gibsonburg Road. I almost crashed when I hit a pothole that extended all the way across that road. It wasn't a terrible pothole, but I was studying my map rather than paying attention to the road, so it caught me by surprise. My carelessness.

I decided to leave the route, which headed south again, and stay on Gibsonburg Road through Gibsonburg. I hoped there would be a place to stay there and, if not, I could ride on to Fremont. Gibsonburg turned out to be a very pleasant small town, but I didn't see any motels so I continued on out of town on highway 600. This joins highway 20 a dozen miles or later. Highway 20 is a divided four lane with rideable, but narrow, shoulders. As 20 nears Fremont it turns into a new, interstate like, road. Someone from Fremont must be powerful in the state legislature in order to get such a fancy bypass around a relatively (20,000) small town.

I stopped at the first motel I found, a Travelodge on highway 19. They didn't have any rooms, except for two rooms that had defective air conditioners. I took one of those for $35. I like to stay nearly naked (or completely naked) in my room after riding, so the room's temperature wasn't bad. It actually got cool enough that night for me to pull up the blanket. 125 miles with a tailwind and polite drivers.

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