Cycling across Ohio for ice cream
By Dan Sheridan
Originally Published in Marion Star August 9, 2009
I can’t resist some temptations, and an ice cream ride across Ohio is one of them.
XOBA, the Across Ohio Bicycle Adventure, is sponsored by Columbus Outdoor Pursuits, the same group that organizes the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure. Starting July 25, Walt Williams and his crew of volunteers led 250 cyclists on a week-long journey across Ohio.
Participants drove to New Castle, Pennsylvania and loaded their bicycles aboard a moving van. Tour buses then took the cyclists and their luggage to the starting point in Eaton, Ohio, west of Dayton. Two hardy riders bicycled from Washington, DC to New Castle, rode across Ohio, and then bicycled home.
The 2009 theme was “old-fashioned ice cream parlors”, and the cyclists enjoyed at least one ice cream stop each day. I was among the many participants who slept on inflatable mats on gym floors, while others pitched tents on school lawns.
The first day’s ride took cyclists through downtown Dayton, where traffic was light on a Sunday morning. We continued on this relatively flat route through Yellow Springs to an ice cream break at Young’s Dairy, before riding to our evening home at Wittenberg University in Springfield. Many of us walked to a nearby deli for dinner, where a local couple expressed surprise that the parking lot could be so empty and the restaurant so full.
Monday’s route took us to Grove City, a distance of 54 miles, with an option to do a 100 mile “century” ride. I opted for the longer distance, and enjoyed the second half of the ride with Nile Boroff, a fellow XOBA rider who I met at lunch in London, Ohio. Deep in conversation, we missed a turn and ended up with 108 miles for the day.
Tuesday was our last day in gentle terrain, so I enjoyed a relaxed 57 mile ride with my cycling friends Lucy Lehner of Marion, Reuben and Rosa Rall of Upper Sandusky, and Tom Purkey of Kettering. We capped the ride with lunch at a deli in Millersport, Ohio, followed by ice cream on the front porch of an old parlor across the street from Buckeye Lake.
Wednesday proved to be our most challenging day, as we rode 74 very hilly miles in a steady rain. We stopped for breakfast at a coffee shop in Granville. Moving on to Ye Olde Mill in Utica, I warmed myself with chicken noodle soup before enjoying a hot fudge sundae.
A few minutes after the rain finally stopped near our destination of Loudonville, a local resident stopped me at the top of a long climb to say “You’re lucky you weren’t here an hour ago. Those riders were getting drenched!” The breeze dried us as we coasted down a long hill just south of Mohican State Park.
Thursday brought brighter skies and more hills, as we continued northeast for 70 miles to Copley High School, near Akron. We stopped for ice cream in Wooster and Medina before ending the day with an ice cream social at camp.
Friday started with heavy rain, so most riders waited until the downpour stopped at 7:30 a.m. before hitting the road. After a few miles, we came to a valley road that was blocked by rushing water. Luckily a nearby trail led us to a bridge over the muddy torrent.
Once past the watery obstacle, I turned north into the Cuyahoga Valley on the optional century route. I stopped to help Nancy and Michael Lucow (Buffalo, NY) change a complicated flat tire, and we rode together for the rest of the day. Crossing beautiful Lake Milton, Michael jumped in the lake to cool down. We arrived at Youngstown State University at 7:40 that evening, after 106 scenic miles.
Saturday brought a relatively short 28 mile ride to our cars. On a steep downhill near the state border, myspeed reached 41 mph.
I greatly admired Greg McMahon of Louisville, Kentucky, who completed his sixth XOBA with a hand-powered three-wheeled cycle. Tom Cline of Berlin Heights, Ohio also inspired me, completing the challenging ride at age 85. It was a delightful week with adventurous and inspiring people.
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