We headed off through the small towns of Fletcher and St. Paris. While both towns were small, they still had a more Northeastern feel than towns that we have seen before. It looks like Ohio might be the state where we start feeling more at home. Only time will tell. About twenty five miles in, we arrive in Urbana. The downtown is very picturesque and we take in some of the historic sites as we make a short northern diversion up to Urbana's sole bike shop. We need tubes to replace what we used in Indiana, and Jonathan is in pretty serious need of new tires for his bike. I ask the shop owner what he has for puncture resistant touring tires. He then grabs a few options which I can tell are in fact not puncture-resistant, and then proceeds to Google features about them and recite them to me. I am not impressed, and after looking a bit more around his shop decide that we have wasted enough time here, and head off towards our destination.
Leaving Urbana, we left Highway 36 and jumped onto routes 29 and 161 that would lead us from Mutual to Plain City. Our ride led us through more and more agriculture, something that has become routine, only to be occasionally "spiced up" by some of these increasingly present Ohio trees. The towns we passed through, such as Irwin, were not much more than a couple buildings along 161, with no sources of food or drink. Thus it was up to us to make it the 55 miles from breakfast to a Subway lunch in Plain City. The riding was not bad, and despite our later start and hearty breakfast we were eating lunch about 15 miles from our destination by 3pm.
The rest of our route got busier and busier as we approached the suburbs of Columbus and passed through Dublin into Powell. As it was the beginning of evening rush hour, the roads were filled with aggressive drivers that were much more confident in where they were headed than we were. With only one wrong turn, we soon found ourselves on the very busy Saw Mill Road, before turning onto our destination's street. Tonight we are staying with my girlfriend's aunt, uncle and cousin in Powell. They have graciously opened up their home to us and treated us to an all you can eat fish and chips dinner. Mrs. Mann also helped us with laundry, the first we had done since Wyoming (and possibly the first time that my non-biking clothes have been washed the entire trip... possibly). Thank you so much Mann family!
The first thing we did when we arrived was get a ride up to Wheelie Fun Bike Shop (http://www.wheeliefunbikeshop.com) in Powell. I had talked to the owner, Ryan, on the phone earlier and he told me that he also was a bike tourer and had some options for puncture resistant tires. When we arrived he showed us the tires and had two great options that we could use for new front and rear tires on Jonathan's bike. We also made some tuning adjustments to both of our bikes. I asked him to take a looking at my rear derailleur, which had been shifting poorly since Illinois. Ryan fixed this quickly and also recognized my rear disc brake rotor was warped. He fixed this as well. When we tried to pay him for the service/installation work he did, he refused. We ended up leaving the shop with free tubes and a new bottle of lube too! Ryan was fantastic and I hope that Wheelie Fun Bike Shop is very successful (it's been open just three months and is the only bike place in Powell). Unlike some shops we have run across this trip, Ryan definitely knows and sells quality products and service. Thanks Ryan!