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I'm Insane (My Hometown Century Ride Report)

Road Cycling ďIt is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.Ē -- Ernest Hemingway

I'm Insane (My Hometown Century Ride Report)

Old 10-05-06, 09:56 AM
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I'm Insane (My Hometown Century Ride Report)

Bexley, Ohio, is 2.5 square miles. Itís got 13,000 people. Wouldnít it be neat to take in the entire town Ė diverse architecture, Governorís mansion, Jeffrey Park, Capital University, the seminary, numerous churches and synagogues, albino squirrels -- in just one day? The plan was to ride every single street at least once. Bored? Crazy? Pathological? Guilty as charged.

Looking at a map the evening before the "ride," I decided that no matter how inefficient I was in picking a route, the total distance would come in at something less than 100 miles. This had to be a century, so Iíd have to scavenge for some miles in Columbus at the end to bring the total up. I guessed that itíd take me 80 miles to hit all the roads in Bexley: 40 miles in Central Bexley and 20 each in North and South Bexley.

The three sectors of Bexley -- North, Central, and South -- are separated by three major streets: Livingston, Main, and Broad. The town is bounded on the East by Gould Street and on the West by lovely Alum Creek. Roughly speaking, that is. A careful study of a map with detailed political boundaries revealed that Alum Creek is entirely in Columbus, but that things got tricky north of Main Street when it came to what was, and what was not, in Bexley. South Bexley is rather small but dense. Central Bexley is the largest sector, and it divides nicely East-West along Drexel Ave., which is also US 40, the old National Road. North Bexley is an odd area. It has the most posh homes in town West of Cassady, but its northern-most and eastern-most edges are rather dingy. North Bexley divides nicely at Cassady, which conveniently is only one-way southbound due to some construction.

Iíd never keep what Iíd ridden and what remained to be done straight in my head, so I cut up the map I had and taped it to some cardboard: just the right size for sliding in my jersey pocket. I took along a black marker so I could obliterate the roads Iíd done. Negative highlighting. It worked perfectly.

I didnít get started until 10:42am. No rush. Iíd probably need all available daylight to pull this ride off, though. I donít know how many stop signs are in Bexley, but Iíd be seeing every one of them at least once, and many of them more than that. This wasnít going to be a speedy ride!

Initially I hit the major roads in town to have them out of the way while everyone was still at church, so I quickly rode the length of Main, Broad, and Livingston to get those out of the way. Theyíre busy streets. Better to do them now and get íem out of the way before folks hit the roads.

Then I started with Central Bexley. Biggest. Most streets. Most tricky areas for navigation. I knocked off everything West of Drexel first, including a few jaunts into Columbus (such as an early lap around Franklin Park, just for fun), then headed up Drexel to do the North-South streets before zig-zagging through the East-West ones. At 1:25pm, I stopped at home (mile 35.11) to re-fill my water bottles and hit the head (no road-side corn-fields in Bexley). A planned short stop turned into a long political conversation with my neighbor, who was looking for an excuse to discontinue yard-work.

Departing home, I soon completed Central Bexley at 36.31 miles and 2:06pm. Time for a late lunch at Chipotle.

South Bexley was next. There arenít many streets in South Bexley, and I quickly completed it at 52.05 miles and 3:38pm, with a leisurely coffee on the patio at Cup-O-Joe. I got slowed down quite a bit by the construction at Mound and Pleasant View. The whole intersection is destroyed, which necessitated approaching it from all 4 directions on the compass to ensure I had every foot of rideable pavement accounted for. I did penance by riding most of the footpaths in the Quad at Capital University. the campus was pretty quiet, except for the one guy blasting gangsta rap out his dorm window. A bit odd on a Sunday at a Lutheran universityÖ.

Off to North Bexley. I worked on the area West of Cassady first, including the piece of Clifton as well as Meadow that are little appendages of the town far to the West of anything else. While over there, I took a trip up the Alum Creek trail to see the new construction on it. Itís great Ė new pavement! I rode the trail up to Fifth and then hammered down Cassady so as not to hold up traffic on that busy, one-lane road. This was the only time in Bexley that I used the big ring. I got into the aero-bars and easily broke the speed limit.

Getting the streets East of Cassady was more of a project Ė there are more of them. At one point, I stuck with Gould up to Allegheny and took that all the way East to James. None of that is in Bexley (itís Columbus, which surrounds Bexley on all 4 sides). Thereís this enormous condemned housing project up there, along with a massive area of failed businesses. It goes for blocks in blocks. I rode through the former project just to check it out. The windows are boarded on the first floor of the buildings only, but itís clear that this hasnít deterred the some of locals from using the massive area for plying their narcotic and sexual wares. I was blown away by the number of acres covered by all this. Iíd think that this would be a prime piece of real estate for the city to sell off to some hungry developer.

After my easterly, off-route sojourn, I finished North Bexley at 78.34 miles and 5:59pm, only 2 miles off my guess of how long the ride would take! I stopped by home to re-fill the bottles again, grabbed the necessary stuff for night riding (lights; reflective gear), and headed back out. I rode into downtown Columbus, up the Olentangy bike trail to Weber, and then hit the Cup-O-Joe there on High Street for more java (mile 91.48, 6:58pm). I decided that the best way to cap off 100 miles of urban riding was with a rockiní ride down High Street. High Street sucks. Itís very busy, even on a Sunday evening. The pavement is terrible. And there are lots of other hazards (many cross-streets, lots of pedestrians, city buses, and did I say especially bad pavement?). Still, itís about as adventurous as urban riding gets in Columbus. Itís the closest thing we have to riding Mass. Ave. in Cambridge. But, it had to be done, so I hit the big ring again and easily kept with traffic, soon arriving back in downtown, where it was back to Bexley by way of State Street to Oak Street to Franklin Park South. I was still a little short so I did some zig-zagging back home (mile 102, 7:55pm, 9:13 total, 6:57 on bike). It was really fun, but I feel no need to ever, ever do this again.

Tour de Bexley by the numbers:
Miles: 102
Miles ridden in Bexley: 78.34, minus probably 10% for soujours into Columbus
Actual miles of roads in Bexley: 48 (according to Dispatch article that appeared the very next day!)
Total miles of cobbles (brick) in Bexley: 1.91 (including that little bit of Dawson cut off by the construction at Main)
Cobbles in Central Bexley: 1.24 miles
Cobbles in North Bexley: 0.54
Cobbles in South Bexley: 0.13 (just two blocks!)
Wildlife sightings: squirrels, chipmunks, skads of birds, ducks in Alum Creek, and an enormous groundhog (North Bexley Ė Allegheny at Delmar). No albino squirrels.
Number of Blackwell for Governor yard signs: 3 (2 in South Bexley, 1 in North Bexley)
Number of Strickland for Governor yard signs: way, way too many to count.
Street most direly in need of paving: College. Itís a gateway to the city and it looks like itís been carpet bombed.
Number of tire swings made in the shape of a horse: 1 (how cool is that?)
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Old 10-05-06, 10:02 AM
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Great story and has me thinking - Sherwood Oregon is about the same size....

Congratulations.

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Old 10-05-06, 10:06 AM
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Classic. I thanks for the new idea....
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Old 10-05-06, 10:10 AM
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hey 55 -- can you change the thread title to something worthy of the report? This is a great (crazy and I love it!) idea and a wonderful report. Great job!
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Old 10-05-06, 10:26 AM
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With your experience you should be able to do a Google map based page, color coding the streets - green for good surface, yellow a few cracks, orange for in need or repaving, red for rim buster.
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Old 10-05-06, 10:39 AM
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Very interesting idea. Sounds like a great way to mix things up!
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Old 10-05-06, 10:53 AM
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Thread title changed per OP request....
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Old 10-05-06, 10:55 AM
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what do you look like, I think we passed each other

yup that section of high street from north campus into clintonville is kinda bumpy

I do about 1/2 to 2/3rds of your ride 5 days a week.

Want some ore variety and some hills, head down goodale west into grandview, then start going north up the first street after you cross grandview ave and start zig zagging, up heading north to west 3rd, over one street west and down, over one more street west then back up.

Grandview, Bexley, old towne east, campus, and even the bottoms really arent bad places to ride.
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Old 10-05-06, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by pedex
what do you look like, I think we passed each other
Not sure what I was wearing that day. Tall, thin guy in his early 30s riding a Giant TCR Comp with aerobars. Frequently checking small map stored in right jersey pocket....
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