Mt. Vernon to Columbus: One Day of Cycling Between Downpours - John and Rick Bike Betwixt and Between Cleveland and Columbus OH, Hopefully Tornado-free - CycleBlaze

May 17, 2018

Mt. Vernon to Columbus: One Day of Cycling Between Downpours

Beautiful Rail Trails, Several Unexpected Detours

The dreaded stationary front caused us to cancel the first leg, from Cleveland to Akron - which turned out to be a great decision because thunderstorms basically sat over our route the entire time we would have cycled.

Since the weather-guessers were accurate for that day, we made the mistake of believing the forecast for Day 2 and Day 3 and cancelled our hotel reservations in Millersburg and Mt. Vernon, as well.  I drove up to Rick and Maggie's house in Columbus on Wednesday, and despite an iffy forecast we decided to ride what would have been the final segment, Mt. Vernon back to Rick and Maggie's house north of Columbus.

The Planned Route, not to be confused with the Actual Route
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The official Ohio to Erie Trail would have taken us East of Rick's house and into downtown Columbus where we would have had to take the Olentangy trail back north to Rick's. This would have added about 15 miles to the trip, so Rick learned how to use RideWithGPS and created a route file that included cutting west from Westerville onto roads to reach the Olentangy Trail north of his house. We would then have 5 miles left, for a total of 48 miles.

Rick and John at the railroad bridge at the start in Mt. Vernon OH
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Rick, Maggie, our two Trek 520s and I packed into the Tressler mini-van and drove north to Mt. Vernon on a cloudless morning. We were within sight of the starting point when police rushed out to close the road and a sloow procession of huge tractor trailers carrying enormous concrete bridge sections took over the road.

The Starting Point
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After that delay, and a bit of confusion about which way was south to Columbus, vs. north to Lake Erie, we made a stop at the scenic Mt. Vernon train station to use the coffee recycling facilities and we were on our way.

The trail crosses a number of small roads as you head south from Mt. Vernon, so we practiced our "Clear left, clear right" announcements and got everything adjusted  as we set out. The Ohio to Erie Trail is actually a collection of existing trails and at this point we were actually on the Heart of Ohio Trail (HOOT). Not far from the start there is an interesting looking observation tower with a spiral staircase you can climb to see the view from the top - but we were in biking mode and pedaled on.

High point on the HOOT
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Once you get south of Mt. Vernon, the trail gets more wooded and the surface is great. The pedaling seemed harder than it should have been and at mile 11 (after crossing over Columbus Road) we learned why - we had been going up a slight grade and had reached the high point of the HOOT. The next 6 miles was down that same grade and the cycling seemed effortless.

At mile 17 we reached North County Line Road and on our Wahoo Elemnts Rick's route showed the trail continuing straight ahead - but straight ahead was woods! After a bit of WTFing and Google Mapping, we detoured onto beautiful low traffic rolling roads (with occasional random OH Bike Route signs) for 8 miles into Sunbury.

Friendly lunch place - Sunbury Grill
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We had a nice lunch at the very friendly Sunbury Grill. We got back on the bikes and headed south as some clouds started moving in. A few miles of road riding and we came to Galena, which looked like it had some nice places to eat, and then onto the Hoover  and Genoa Trails which took us along the western shore of the Hoover Reservoir.

Unfortunately, a few miles north of Westerville, at about mile 31, the trail was closed - it looked like they were doing some resurfacing and sealing. That meant cycling on very busy North State Street (decent shoulder, though) and some confusion when we reached the intersection with Polaris Parkway. We finally managed to find the Westerville Trail south.

Once we reached Schrock Road at mile 36, we had about 7 miles of sketchy road riding until reaching the northern end of the Olentangy Trail and the 5 miles of peaceful riding until we reached Rick's house near the Park of Roses. This was the longest ride Rick had done in years and his quads were letting him know.

Smiles at the end
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After one last climb up Rick's road, we made it to Rick and Maggie's driveway for a total of 48 miles. Quick showers and we hopped in our cars to head south to Dayton and Xenia with hopes of getting some more miles in over the next few days - but no luck, too much rain.

I did see some pedal powered pub crawlers in downtown Dayton, though.

Calorie intake exceeds calorie outgo in pedal powered pub crawling
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Today's ride: 48 miles (77 km)
Total: 48 miles (77 km)

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