For the last several years I had pondered on what it would be like to get into bike touring. Talking to other’s and reading reviews I headed to the local bike shop here in town the first of this year. I entered the International Pro Bike Shop with many questions and came out with the purchase of a Bianchi C-Sport 3.
When she arrived, I was properly fitted for this bike. Eventually we changed the seat and handlebars. They installed the back rack, wrapped the handlebars and even though she is a basic bike, it was all I needed to get started.
Around the same time as I was getting adjusted to my new bike, I kept having terrible pains in my neck and shoulders, down my arms and numbing my fingers as I rode. A Dr visit with x-rays showed that I have degenerative bone disease in the T7 region of the neck and up with a few bone spurs on T5 & T6…So…any bike riding for me going forward was going to be short 10 to 20 mile rides. Well not quite! Having constant pain was not going to determine my bike riding!
I had met Linda a few years earlier and I knew that she was and avid bicyclist and motorcyclist. She has served in the US Army for several years, drives a semi truck for a living and loves to hike and be outdoors. I knew she would be the right person to teach me the ropes of riding!
I had purchased the OTET maps last year and done very little research on this route but I knew I wanted to attempt it in mid October. Contacting her and only giving us each two weeks to prepare…she said “Yes”…with a promise that she could ride 30 to 40 miles per day. I was only hoping to be able to keep up with her!
I had purchased a pair of waterproof, back-roller free Ortlieb panniers from REI and a front five liter Ortlieb handlebar bag. Using pipe insulation, I made and attached a water guard to the back rack, extending it to underneath my seat. Rearview mirror, water bottle holders, lights, tools, two tire tubes, patch kit, bike lock, single person tent, sleeping gear, clothing, food, toiletries and maps…I began preparing myself for the ride.
As you can see I wore a pair of KEEN Newport sandals for the entire ride. Linda had given me a pair of bike shoes but I shipped them home after carrying them for the first four days of our trip. Bike shorts didn’t work for me either so I wore my usual leggings.
I truly enjoyed the entire Ohio to Erie Trail and would do it again. Next time I would take more pictures and stop more often to visit some of the attractions along the route.
The month of October was ideal with the changing of the seasons. We experienced all sorts of weather from freezing temps, to rain, sunshine and cloudy days.
The ride through towns and on the roads was a first for me and is something I will need to get the hang of. From the onset I was not a steady driver on my bike with all the weight. I did not feel comfortable riding close to the right side of the trail and chose to ride more in the middle. Linda was great in teaching me the verbal commands necessary for a successful ride when you have others with you…Breaking, Slowing, Stopping, Heads Up…Got It, were words that we constantly communicated to one another.
My favorite parts of the OTET were the Ohio to Erie Canal Towpath, the Alum Creek Trail into Columbus and the Little Miami Scenic Trail. The entire trail is well maintained with numerous trailside parks, rest areas and sights to explore. There could be a little more signage in some areas but for the most part it is fairly easy to follow. A few more campsites along the way would be good for those of us who do not ride those long miles each day. It was a fun experience that I would do again!
Nothing can compare though to the surprise I had as I finished along the Ohio River at the Roebling Bridge. I have backpacked many a trail and have completed many a thru hike but had yet to experience a finish where my family was there to greet me. I was so excited and full of joy I had a hard time keeping back the tears. No trip has ever brought me such triumph and delight as being with my children and grandchildren at the finish. Their presence meant the world to me!
Thank you Linda for being such a trusted team player that I could count on…you had my back and I appreciated it all. You are an inspiration!
And to my girls…I can’t thank you enough for taking the time on such a rainy, cold day to come out and find me as I completed this journey.
With much love to my family…