Monday, October 17, 2016

Ohio to Erie Day 4 of Riding – Mt. Vernon to Columbus (Small Towns and Big Cities)

Up early again to get a good head start on the day. Today was a nearly 60-mile day. It was, however, almost all bike trail. To give you some perspective, we had a total of 665 ft. of elevation over the entire course.

This was my favorite breakfast of the week, though. I just love the warm cinnamon rolls at Holiday Inn Express. We departed Holiday Inn smarter than we were a day ago for a 2-mile coast down a 2 to 3 % grade into Mt. Vernon.

We met up with Pedal Pal and Roomie at the Comfort Inn. Roomie came out first.  We waited a while for Pedal. When Pedal arrived, Roomie decided he wanted to go back in to get his Muscle Milk. We were all finally together and crossrd the bridge for day of some downhill, for a change.

The Heart of Ohio Trail runs the distance from Mt. Vernon to Centerburg and starts just outside the Comfort Inn when Pedal and Roomie had spent the night.

The next 14 miles were a slight uphill grade finally peaking just before Centerburg.

About halfway through the day, about 31 miles into the ride, we all developed a hankering for some fresh, small-town doughnuts and a glass of cold chocolate milk. We found just the spot in Sunbury. The Hoover Scenic Trail circles the reservoir in Sunbury before crossing the pedestrian bridge to the Genoa Trail.

A mile past the doughnut shop was Big Walnut High School, a virtual incubator for female volley ball players, according to Pedal Pal. Pedal has a difficult time leaving his coaching job for vacation so every time we are anywhere near a high school it’s fair game for recruiting.

While Pedal was inside wheelin’ and dealin’ Roomie, Velo and I just hung around outside longing for some air conditioning. The day was turning into a scorcher.

Another 2.5 miles and we found the town of Galena and the Hoover Scenic Trail. Off the trail for about half a mile and we picked up the Genoa Trail.

Those 25 miles were slightly rolling but overall downhill to Westerville.

Pedal and Roomie left us at Westerville. Roomie needed a small repair to his bike so they stopped at the LBS. Rumor has it that Pedal’s bike was molested by someone at the store causing a bloody elbow and some chipped paint. We continued on the Westerville Trail, taking a short pause at the Westerville Depot.

After leaving the comfort of trail life we turned west onto Schrock Road. This was not a scenic road, nor was it a fun road. Heavily trafficked by fast moving vehicles, the bike lane was a reprieve, until…the street cleaner was operating in it. What city operated the street cleaner in the afternoon on a busy five-lane highway? Of course it was blocking us just as we came to an uphill grade forcing us to merge with traffic. We were stuck on this hindrance of a road for a bout 5 miles.

We passed the big Budweiser factory and turned south again on Proprietors Rd. The road was so short we missed a turn onto North Road. Nothing a quick u-turn couldn’t fix.

After crossing High St. we found the Olentangy trail, again made a wrong turn, righted ourselves and followed the Olentangy trail all the way to the hotel.

That sounds easy, but it was far from it. The roadways in and around the university are hectic to say the least.  Add a soccer tournament and a Nick Jonas/Demi Lovato concert to the mix and you have pure insanity.

Velo and I were on our own for 16 more miles to the Ohio State University in Columbus.
We were so thankful to get to our hotel. The thought of checking in, drying off, and relaxing a little before dinner was encouraging. No go. Sixty miles in 90 degrees terminating in heavy rain and the hotel was sold out. We would have to wait in the lobby until our room was ready. 

It was worth the wait. Velo surprised me with a deluxe suite for the middle of the week. After a peaceful shower and short rest we walked across the parking lot to El Vaquera for a Mexican dinner. Pre-teen girls in town for the concert had descended on the restaurant with a vengeance. We were tired anyway so two margaritas and a burrito and I was ready to call it a day. I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.  ZZzzzzzzzzzzz

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Vampire Bait

We have been suffering terribly from lack of riding, both VeloJunkie and I. Today was supposed to be another day sacrificed to working on the old house. We waited and waited but the delivery truck was a no-show. Finally, at about 3:00 p.m. we decided to take advantage of Home Depot’s mishap, the beautiful weather, and the duration of sunlight we still had in October, and go for a ride.

We hadn’t eaten lunch yet so we determined our destination by our cravings. Eli’s barbecue it was. We resolved we would pick up Eli’s on the way to Bad Tom’s Taproom and have a couple of choice brews with our smoked meat.

We should have recognized the inklings of disorder all along our route and throughout the day. First, of course, was the miscommunication about the delivery. Then there was a strong wind out of the south and temperatures were higher than normal for an autumn day in the middle of October. Drivers were impatient, even other cyclists didn’t return a friendly wave or nod in passing. Soon I realized I had left my phone at the old house so I was travelling completely disconnected.

Eli’s, usually the busiest place in town, had only a handful of patrons under the big outdoor tent and no one dining inside. We ordered our food and waited outside. It was presented to us in two large, carry-out trays instead of the individual containers they used to put orders in. Baked beans and cole slaw travel much better in sealed bowls than separated trays. We finally figured out how to secure the food on Velo’s bike and pedaled very slowly to Bad Tom’s, me trailing Velo to make sure the food didn’t slip or spill.

We ordered our beer, a Bad Tom Brown Ale for me and an American Outlaw Pale Ale for Velo, and took a seat at the table nearest the turntable. A woman comparable in age to us was spinning vinyl on the old RCA and singing along with the 70’s music. Three Dog Night, then CSN, a little bit of Led Zeppelin, then some Eagles. We talked to her a little about star signs, zodiacs, and album covers, lamenting the fact that nobody cared about the art on the cover anymore. Remember the cover of “Desperado” or “Black Sabbath”?

We opened the containers that we so precariously transported only to find them void of utensils. The sandwiches were easy but we had to reach back deep into our medieval ancestry to figure out how to eat the beans and slaw.

After two beers each we decided it was time to go. Daylight doesn’t last very long this time of year and our route home passes through some less desirable parts of the city.

Velo just couldn’t leave the area without stopping at his favorite taproom, Blank Slate, for just one more. By the time we left for home the sun was low in the west and we had about 13 miles to put behind us. I was pedaling pretty hard when we came to a stoplight. I looked at Velo and warned him that something had to give…I was going to either burp or vomit if I had to climb one more hill with a belly full of beer and barbecue.

We made it to Riverside drive free and clear, still moving fast but no elevation for a while. Much to our surprise we were soon facing an onslaught of costumed motorcyclists. There must have been 200 or more roaring down the street in their Halloween best. It was a sight to behold and I so wished I would have brought my camera. Chances are their images would not have shown up in pictures anyway.

All the time the sun was waning faster than we were riding.

We got into the industrial part of the ride just as dusk was bearing down. This part of town is pretty desolate on a Saturday, and by the time evening rolls around there is not a living soul around. I was stopped at an intersection, underneath the flickering of a streetlight, when Velo rolled up next to me. Looking over at him in the strobe of the lamp I couldn’t help but think that we must be in some sort of underworld. I laughed and said “Hello Vampire Bait”. Velo didn’t laugh. "Vampire Bait?" He looked at me quizzically. I said "Well yeah. Your heart rate is up, your blood is pumping, what more could a vampire want?"

We made it home just before nightfall, exhausted from riding full throttle for the last two to three miles.

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