Ive been curious about touring for some time, but I never really gave it much thought. I biked alot when I was in my early 20's, then stopped for several years. Got back into it last year. I bike after work, and on the weekends. This summer I did several metric centuries, and a few organized rides.
I've been reading and lurking in here, seeing what I could learn. Biggest piece of advice that I got - just go do it.
So, I did.
3 days and 200 miles on the Ohio and Erie Towpath (which follows the old canal system from Lake Erie in Cleveland, up to the high point south of Akron, and south from that a little way). 99.9% on a trail, so no worries of traffic. Beautiful country. I didn't camp this time - having a hotel and reservations gave me one less thing to worry about. Stayed in Massillon, OH both nights (which I recommend - lots of restaurants in Massillon, and easy to get around on bike). Lots of interesting things to stop and see on the way, if you are interested in the history of the canal system. And the trails are REALLY well built and maintained. I was very impressed. I carried everything I needed (and stuff I didn't need) in a handle bar bag, two rear panniers, and a dry stuff sack on the back rack.
Day 1 - Left from the South Chagrin Reservation (it's near my parents house, so it was easy to get dropped off there). Traveled west about 10 miles to the towpath, then turned north to Cleveland. Was very surprised how nice the trail was. Eventually turned around and went south, passing Akron, Canal Futon, and ending up in Massillon. 90 miles the first day, but I could have cut that shorter by starting on the towpath, not biking up to Cleveland, or taking the scenic railway part of the way. The railway is $2 for people with bikes - you just pull up to one of the stations, wave your arms, pay your $2, load your bike up, and ride. Alas, I did not ride the train.
Day 2 - Biked south for a while, ate lunch, and biked back. Only did 35 miles, mostly because I wasn't sure how my body would react to biking alot on a second day. Turns out I had nothing to fear - I handled it much better than I though.
Day 3 - Biked back up to the Cleveland Area. The Continental Divide is just south of Akron, so I told myself it was all downhill after that point. And it really was an easy ride back. Until I got off the towpath and biked up the valley walls to the South Chagrin Reservation to get back to my parents house. Total of 75 miles.
I had a great time - and I'd recommend the Ohio and Erie Towpath for anyone, like me, who wants to try touring but with some protection from the "real world" like traffic and no water.
A few of my favorite pictures from the trip (I'm not posting all 100 pictures... only my wife had to suffer through looking at all of them.)