We set off from the Mann's house loaded with food and clean clothing all thanks to their great generosity. They had showed us a less trafficked route to follow to the Olentangy Bike Trail that would let us avoid busy roads packed with Columbus commuters. Without much trouble we reached the Olentangy Trail through Powell and Worthington and began paralleling the river of the same name towards Downtown Columbus. The trail was in great condition with good signage and many other people out for recreation and commuting. The trail was great at avoiding busy road crossings, instead offering above and below road level crossings for bicyclists. The trail led us right past Ohio State University and Jonathan was able to see Ohio Stadium for the first time. Photos captured and then we hopped back on the trail down towards the Arena District.
Emerging in the Arena District we road some sidewalks to get around waterfront reconstruction work, before arriving on East Main Street, which would become Highway 40. We headed out of the Arena District and into a more "interesting" part of Columbus. Suddenly we found ourselves surrounded by Starbucks and Chipotle as we entered the wealthy suburb of Bexley. By this point we had gotten used to riding on a minimal shoulder and dodging traffic as it pulled in and out of local businesses along 40. Although we had not covered a huge amount of distance, this type of urban, stop and go riding is tiring, so I turned to Google and found a Bob Evans on the border of Reynoldsburg. After stuffing ourselves with whole grain pancakes, we headed off on Highway 40.
The riding was comfortable, with some slow rolling hills and flat agriculture that allowed us to maintain a comfortable pace. The closer we got to Zanesville, the larger the hills began to become. We could no longer maintain our momentum as we climbed these hills, and for the first time in a few states, we were shifting to our lower gears to creep up each hill. Finally in Zanesville we grabbed some lunch at a gas station and met a very interesting woman who was convinced that we were twins. We apparently looked so much alike that she could not keep our sandwich orders straight, and we each ended up with a combination of what we had each wanted on our own sandwiches.
The hills leaving Zanesville were even less hospitable to biking and exceeded 10% grades. The shoulders were nonexistent and the locals were kind enough to verbally harass us as they sat in the backs of passing pickup trucks. We also saw a young boy walking around, trying to get a piece of plastic sheeting to stick to his sweaty back, he greeted us politely as we passed. What an interesting section of the Midwest!
Around 7pm, we reached the town of New Concord and decided it would be best to grab dinner before continuing on to Cambridge. We got sandwiches from Subway, which curiously did not have any seating available. Luckily for us, the town of New Concord has outdoor concerts and the Muskingham Valley Symphonic Winds were beginning a performance across the street right as we emerged with our food. We ate quickly and took in two songs before we headed back to the steep Eastern Ohio hills.
While we wished to continue past Cambridge, there was no real options for lodging that would keep us under 130+ miles for the day. With the terrain continuing to through large hills our way, it was unlikely that we would have made it much further anyway. We planned to stay overnight in Cambridge, and had to endure many hills on the way there. About two hours after we settled down for the night, a large thunderstorm rolled through the area. It was definitely a good idea that we had not tried to push on for a late night of riding.
Photos by Jonathan Kobles
Photos by Jonathan Kobles