My husband and I made plans to ride the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure (GOBA) this year. Our training plan didn’t quite go as we had anticipated when we signed up for this week-long bike ride last November.
While visiting Holmes County Ohio a week before the actual ride I thought it would be nice to get some training miles in on one of the local Rails-to-Trails bike paths. Holmes County Ohio is a beautiful rural area that is most well-known for the Amish communities. Rolling hills and two-lane country roads make for an enjoyable slower pace for this suburbanite who is more commonly in Orlando traffic that includes I-4 construction and toll roads.
I did internet searches for local bike trails and found one about twenty miles from where I was staying. The search tells me the trail is the Holmes County Trail. I was impressed that it was 23 miles in length. GOBA averages about 50 miles a day but honestly, I am not in the condition to ride the entire trail roundtrip. It’s one of the reasons I NEED to train more this week. The day’s forecast includes rain so I know I need to get my ride in before noon. The entire week has a significant amount of rain forecast so I know I won’t have a lot of opportunities to ride. I stay focused and load my bike and gear into the truck and go on my merry way to a fun bike ride.
My first clue I should note is my GPS does not find a trail. So, I switch to the maps feature on my mobile phone to find the trail. I stop along the way and get an ample supply of water for my water bottles and a snack to stow in my trunk bag. As I’m getting close I can see the trail across the field and then, what? Wait! The map program tells me I have arrived. But, there is no trailhead. I can see the trail. It is several hundred feet across what I presume to be private land. I am on a two-lane state highway and there is no stopping.
I quickly glance in all directions to make sure I haven’t missed the trailhead. No, there is nothing around but the field with a trail off in the distance. Well, shoot! I start thinking, I haven’t seen a trailhead. I haven’t even seen a side road or a sign. I start to worry that I will totally miss my chance for a ride.
A couple of minutes down the road I find a small business and stop to check my map. Yes, that was the spot. I decide to go into the little business and ask if they know where a trailhead is. Initially, they said there wasn’t one nearby that they knew of. As the co-workers discussed the trail they decided that there just might be a trailhead up the road ‘a little ways’ behind a place called Nana’s Restaurant. Hmm, ‘little ways?’, I am thinking a few blocks. I asked what they meant by ‘a little ways’ and good thing I did too. Their idea of “a little ways” was a few miles.
I got back into my truck and went looking for Nana’s Restaurant. I am happy I stopped to ask because after a few miles I saw Nana’s. Thankfully there was a sign directing me to a small gravel parking lot with the standard kiosk sign that trailheads are known for.
Now, I know it’s going to rain today. I even put the rain cover on my helmet. I unload my bike and fill my water bottles. I have a bike trunk with a supply of replacement tubes and my snack.
I go up the embankment to join the trail and it is BEAUTIFUL! It is an older paved trail with a nice canopy of tree coverage.
This is when I find that the Trail is the Ohio to Erie & Holmes Trail. This is a trail that traverses most of the state of Ohio from Cincinnati to Cleveland. A true gem.
I start my ride. This trail appears to be used by cyclists and the Amish buggies. I pass a couple of buggies as I am starting out. I am impressed with this trail. I ride along enjoying the tranquil beauty. The trail crosses roads in a few places. It’s important to pay attention as the roads are generally a fairly high speed. As I continue on the trail I am routed along surface streets before going back to dedicated trails. I am enjoying the ride. The rain is getting closer and the light sprinkling starts. I don’t mind, it’s June. Light rain will dry before long.
The rain continues and as I am coming up on five miles I decided I should check the radar. Oh my! Before I can even get turned around the rain is coming much harder. I haven’t mentioned it yet but I am on a road bike. The small tires that, while good for speed or long distances, are not good to be riding on wet pavement.
I am putting a good amount of effort into my ride now. I am somewhat concerned about lightning. There hasn’t been any yet but I am not sure if it’s coming. I am now happy I took the time to put the helmet rain cover on. I am also wondering why I didn’t put my neoprene shoe covers over my sandals. I can feel the water under my feet inside the sandals. The rain is so hard now I am soaked.
While I try to keep my head down I am getting water spatters on my glasses. I must stop and clear them off to better see. I must also be careful to not make a quick turn as the thin road tires don’t have the best traction. I certainly don’t want to end up sliding and crashing the bike. I am hightailing it back to my starting point and as I get closer the rain eases up. It nearly stops by the time I return to my truck. I am now soaked and feel this is the end of my ride today. While I might get a reprieve to load my gear, I know there is more rain to come.