Retrospective - Ohio to Erie Trail 2023 - CycleBlaze

May 16, 2023

Retrospective

I don't know how many of you dwell on the ride you just accomplished once you get back to "civilization" but I do. At least until I retire from work. Then it will be planning routes all the time. But until then I'm stuck in the tour, back home, think about tour, plan next tour, repeat. Until next tour, I'll put down my thoughts about this tour, some of the "academy awards" of the trip, and maybe a few photos that I didn't post. Or not

Deep thoughts

There were two things that stuck out to me on this trip; I found it hard to get my mind into the trip, and my focus was more on making a long-form content video than in writing. Let me break those down a little bit.

Normally, I'm getting into a tour by the second day - my head is into the riding, the exploring, the day-by-day "zen" nature of the experience. This time I found it hard to get my head into that rhythm. I felt like there was a lot of rushing and checkpoints I had to hit just to be able to do it - driving 7 hours to Cincinnati, getting the rental truck and driving to Cleveland - finding gas stops along the way, dealing with towns that have no amenities at the end of a day, that sort of thing. I didn't fully hit that until day 4, and then it ended Day 5 when I checked into Xenia and just wanted to get out of there and back to the car. It destroyed my psyche. If this sounds like a first-world problem, sorry about that - just being open about this ride.

The other item I found is I concentrated more on thinking through video shots rather than writing the journal (finally able to use that video production university degree I earned years ago). If you read the journal and thought "this isn't up to Paul's normal standards (whatever they are :-))" you were onto something. I think I'll continue to post the journal because I enjoy connecting with you all but I really like going back and watching the videos and reliving the experience. 

I'll let you know what stays and what goes in the kit

  • I went with flat pedals this trip. I liked being able to hop off the bike and walk around. I also had 5-10 MTB shoes, so they had a stiff grippy-rubber sole. Not as good for long walks so I'm thinking next tour I go with regular ol' sneakers and that means I just have one pair of shoes to worry about. I'll throw them in a dryer if I get soaked by rain.
  • I converted my gravel bike to flat bars from the drop bars. While I am very comfortable with drop bars, I did have flat bars and Ergon grips on my foldable which I liked. A more upright position from which to explore the world. I did find my hands would start getting tired of the single position (much faster than I thought they would). Overall, though, I like the change and they are going to stay.
  • Annnnddd, the aero-bars will definitely stay because it's an alternate hand position, provides some relief when riding into the wind or just want to make some miles, and it's a good base to strap a dry bag (my tent) when doing self-supported camping.
  • I had fenders (mud guards?) this trip. That was great for those mornings riding on wet roads where I didn't end up wearing a skunk-stripe down my back. These will stay on the bike for the next tour. It kept the bike pretty-much clean. Without them the bike would have been a mess.
  • I put panniers on the back instead of my large seatbag. I did like the convenience of stuffing panniers and rolling the top closed - far quicker and easier to access items within. What I didn't realize is all that weight on the back caused resonance on the handlebars to shake back and forth when riding no-handed (even when the panniers were equally loaded on each side). I know, I know, just don't ride no-handed. The jury is out on this one because I liked the convenience but didn't like the bike handling. So I'll do some experiments over the next short tours to see how to weight the bike the best way.
  • Oh, and because I had the extra space in the panniers I packed too many items of clothing. Some I never used. Why did I do that? It's not my normal mode of operation. Especially since I end up laundering clothing every 2-3 days anyway.
  • I found sunscreen on a stick (very similar to how underarm deodorant is packaged). It made applying it to the back of my neck so much easier, quicker, and less messy. I'll be using that instead of my neck gaiter and sun sleeves from this point forward. I just like the feel of the wind on my arms.

The academy awards

  • Best Hotel - It was a toss-up between the Renaissance in Cleveland and the Blu-Tique in Akron. The Renaissance had a classic hotel lobby, live piano music, great bar, lots of marble and grand old-world-style staircases. I liked the modern rooms and amenities in the Akron hotel. 
  • Best dinnerwould have to go with the "Totally Baked" pizza in Akron. I ordered the "Tony Montana" pizza which was basically a Cuban sandwich on a pizza. A surprising combination, and a really good one, too.
  • Best Breakfast - this one isn't even close. Broken Grounds coffee shop. Great breakfast sandwich and the owner was super-friendly. We were both chatty and I stayed for 45 minutes or so just chatting with her about business ownership, raising people up to become successful, economic situation. Just a blast.
  • Best road section - While this trail is 85% bike/rec paths, I found the on-road section from Killbuck to Glenmont. Very low-trafficked roads and super-scenic. Runner-up is the trail section running through the Cuyahoga Valley.
  • Most scenic town - Although not on my list of places to explore, I made a side-trip into Barberton to get breakfast at McDonalds, and rode to the lake they have in town. Lots of lovely old homes overlooking the lake and a great scenic location. If I were riding this trail again I would try and stay in Barberton rather than Akron
  • Best piece of clothing - my multi-colored T-shirt. It just works so well. And it's so much fun. Any pics on this journal you're likely to see me wearing it. Love that shirt.
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Susan JamesThanks for this thorough review. I was planning to do this one solo so I appreciate the honest opinion about Xenia and the Deerfield Inn.
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10 months ago
Paul MulveyTo Susan JamesYou're welcome. With your comment I know I had at least one person read this :-). I don't know what your daily mileage is, but I planned the Columbus to Cincinnati stage in 2 days. That gave me around 60 to Xenia and 65 to Cincinnati from Xenia. You could do Columbus to Cedarville (which has a really nice Inn right on the trail. Literally) at 48 miles. That would leave ~75 miles to Cincinnati the next day. As you ride into Cincinnati on the Little Miami Trail, there are several towns along the way you could break up that last day into a 2-day trip. Loveland was ~48 from Cedarville leaving around 25 miles on the 3rd day.

Good luck on your trip and post us your adventure :-)
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10 months ago