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a_d_a_m 09-15-21 12:00 PM

Ohio To Erie Trail - my August-September trip
I've been putting this journal (more of a review, I suppose?) for a while now, because at first I was merely processing the idea that the tour even happened, and then I got busy at work and couldn't have any time to myself to write it all out. Anyway, here's my first true day off since the let's get into it.

On August 28th, 2021, I greeted Vega's Velo Bicycle Transport at my dad's house in Mentor, Ohio, and along with two co-workers, we headed down to the Hampton Inn in downtown Cincinnati. Jim and Jacqui have done the OTET before and were able to recommend some restaurants and provide other tips for our journey.
Here's a rather unflattering picture of yours truly in the middle, with my two co-workers who would be completing the journey with me.
Since they don't know about this article, I won't use their full names. Instead, I'll use their first initials and introduce you to L on the left, and B on the right.
Of course, our trip down was full of the requisite Ohio scenery...
We arrived in Cincinnati early on Saturday afternoon and checked into the Hampton Inn. We were credit card touring, and while the girls were sharing a room all week, I had a hotel room to myself. I splurged and got the king bed most nights.
Early Sunday morning, we pushed off from Smale Riverfront Park after doing the requisite tire dip in the Ohio River.
The riverfront was beautiful in the 6 o'clock hour.
We made good time getting through Cincinnati proper as the path is rather clear. Here we are looping around Lucius Cincinnatus, a Roman politician.
In no time at all, we were at Sunken Lunken Airport. Again, signage was good. Though this stretch required considerable road riding, we had no issues due to it being an early Sunday morning.
After zipping through the ritzy neighborhood of Mariemont and down an AWESOME hill where I sustained over 30mph for at least a quarter mile (seriously!), we were off the road and on the Little Miami Scenic Trail.
We were thinking the road riding would be the most harrowing part of the day, but we were sorely mistaken, as my '21 Kona Sutra decided to suffer from mechanicals. We had been enjoying the LMST quite fine for about 15 miles when I heard a metallic ping noise and knew I'd busted a spoke. We stopped in Loveland so I could inspect. I carry spare spokes but I don't have the chops to replace them, so we were roadside looking for an open bike shop. Go figure, there were plenty around but none were open.
Well, there was ONE open, a bike rental place near Loveland who shall go unnamed since they were less than helpful. They flat out said NO when I asked if I could stop by with spokes and have their mechanic get me trued. Guess they only work on THEIR bikes and don't care about goodwill with other bike tourists. Oh well. Screw them.

(more coming in subsequent posts; I am limited to 10 images per post)

a_d_a_m 09-15-21 12:00 PM

Two ladies walking stopped to ask if we needed help. I explained what was going on and they excitedly said they knew a guy named MIke, and if they could get a hold of him, he'd certainly be able to help. Unfortunately, Mike was not answering his phone and therefore, we bid the ladies farewell after exchanging numbers (in case Mike became available) and I decided to ride on a busted spoke. About a minute after we split up, I got a text from them, advising me to call a fella named Kevin. I left Kevin a voicemail and a minute later, I'm riding my bike and talking on speaker phone and arranging to meet him up the road at Mile 42 Coffee Shop where he would take my bike for a fix...
Turns out, Kevin was a team mechanic and now works from his house. We were ready for a break anyway, so this mechanical was well-timed and Kevin worked pretty quickly to get me rolling again. My bike came back with my bars rewrapped and my chain lubed. Kevin wouldn't take money, until I insisted on giving him a green handshake. Stand-up guy. Apparently he is a well-known dude, because he got swarmed by local cyclists when he dropped my bike off.
One of the things I wish was prevalent along the entire OTET is these mileage signs. They're handy as hell and provide very clear info on where you are and where you're headed.
We made short order of getting to Kings Mills, home of the Peters Cartridge Company - an old ammo factory turned brewery and lux apartments.
They were closed, so we pressed on and had our next rest stop in Morrow, home of a husband-wife combo who were having a walking argument as we lounged in the pavilion. Apparently, the guy fell asleep in his car at the local Auto Zone and had an unpleasant encounter with the local fuzz, prompting his wife to be super pissed off at him. They're not's a caboose instead.
Of course I didn't know I had a leaf on my head when I took this...
We were trying to make Xenia without any further drama beyond my busted spoke, but my front tube had other ideas. It sounded like a gun going off and I couldn't hear out of my left ear for a couple of days. I got to change a tube for the first time since the '90s...
The tire was fine, so we continued on (me, angrily so) to Xenia where I jumped into the pool in my bike clothes in an effort to launder them...
...which then required the AC unit to be cranked up to dry everything off while I polished off a 6er of Budweiser obtained from the Circle K down the road from my hotel.
The next morning, we stopped at K&G Bicycle Center in Xenia to have them double check my spokes and make sure I didn't mess anything up on my tube install. I also got some spare tubes just in case my install was crap, or something was wrong with the wheelset. Nice guys, good shop, do recommend. Anyway, we made it to Xenia Station, where something like 5 bike trails intersect. I plan to go down and ride them all someday.
Riding out of Xenia to Columbus, we knew it would be shade-free and pretty straight for the day. This was a common view. Some may find it boring, but I really enjoyed this day.

a_d_a_m 09-15-21 12:01 PM

It seemed like no time before we had made it to London.
We ate mediocre pizza and then headed eastward from London toward Columbus, where the trail rides along the railroad (and crosses back and forth over it many times) for a considerable distance.
We made it to Battelle Darby Creek Metropark, where just prior to entry, I took the following picture. I was happy at the time the picture was taken, but became unhappy shortly thereafter, as signage was pretty stupid in this area, and they send you down a coarse gravel hill, solely for the purpose of sending you back up a huge paved climb that doesn't seem to end. Next time I ride OTET, I am skipping BDCM and riding Alkire Road instead.
First glimpse of Columbus that I was able to catch with my phone without stopping the bike.
Getting in to town was okay as far as signage, but we came in during evening rush, and I swear every motorist decided to delete the mufflers from their cars. Car noise was overwhelming and the intersection at Georgesville Road was quite harrowing for us.
I saved $100 by staying at the Red Roof, while the L and B stayed across the road at the Drury. Our co-worker, M, arrived that night and decided to ride back to Cleveland from Columbus with us. She stayed at the RRI as well.
Based on our entry to Columbus, I expected a bigger hassle getting out than we experienced. The path rides along I-670 for a bit, which was a wake-up call in terms of noise, but it wasn't too bad nor did it last too long.
We made it to the Alum Creek Trail without incident. Decent little trail, but I was underwhelmed by it after hearing so many glowing reviews of it. I guess for an urban trail it's nice...?
This was one of our breaks north of Westerville, maybe near Galena?
And here was our next, outside of Sunbury (speaking of - signage in Sunbury is confusing, or at least was to us). We had a stiff headwind during this time and the temps were sky high. None of us were having a great time, but press on we must!

a_d_a_m 09-15-21 12:01 PM

We busted our ass to get to Centerburg, the midpoint of the OTET. Before taking this picture, I laid in the grass for ten minutes and moaned in agony.
Sadly, Pizzaburg (pictured in the background) was closed for two more hours, so we went up into town to the appropriately named InTown Restaurant. It was okay, service was good and food was average. They filled our bottles, though.
It started to pour while we were cashing out.
I covered my Brooks and we tried to press on for a bit in our rain gear (what little we had brought, anyway). There is a pavilion at the Centerburg Church Of God that has water stocked for hot sunny days, which we weren't experiencing, but we decided to stop and see if we could wait out the rain and I decided to scope out the fridge. Nice little setup and recommend stopping if you're in need of a refill...
As you can tell, the radar looked bad, so we decided to ride the remaining 15 miles in a hard rain into Mt. Vernon. It was SO MUCH FUN, seriously, I love rain riding! We had to skip Ariel Foundation Park due to the rain, and went straight to our hotel - the Mt. Vernon Grand. HIGHLY recommended! Very hospitable to cyclists and just a posh little setup, owned by the Nazarene university in town I guess...
From Mt. Vernon, we pushed off onto the Kokosing Gap Trail which was, as advertised, BEAUTIFUL. Here are a couple of pictures from where the trail starts in Mt. Vernon.

a_d_a_m 09-15-21 12:02 PM

In short-order, we made it to the 0-6-0 switcher locomotive for the first unscheduled break of the day...
And then shortly after, another break at the Howard stone arch.
And then shortly after, a tree was blocking our path...
The weather all day was pleasant and we made good time after those rapid-fire breaks. Big props to the folks who maintain the KGT, as it is smooth, scenic, and one of the highlights of the entire OTET.
As the KGT ends, you end up on the Holmes County Trail, which depending on where you are is either paved or is crushed limestone. Before long, you're in Brinkhaven at the Bridge Of Dreams, which has nice views out of both sides.
Riding north from Bridge Of Dreams, you cross under Route 62 and begin a steady climb towards Glenmont. I suck at climbing but I had my legs this day, and made it all the way up to the peak - Baddow Pass - without stopping. The climb is gradual for about 4 miles and then increases drastically at the pass.
Then you get about 3.5 miles downhill during which you barely have to pedal. That is always fun. In Glenmont, you have to ride about 7 miles on OH-520, which people warned me would be harrowing and scary and blah blah blah.........I loved it. No traffic, nice views, a few hills to get my legs awake. Yes, I'd ride it again.
As 520 ends, you end up in Killbuck, where you should absolutely stop at the Killbuck Sweet Shoppe for one of their milkshakes. They do a good burger, too.

a_d_a_m 09-15-21 12:02 PM

On the flip side, I do NOT recommend Hotel Millersburg, which was our lodging for the night. Tiny room, loud A/C unit, much of the staff aside from the bartender and the clerk named Sierra was rude, and if you're Covid cautious, well, just know some of the staff is the opposite of that. Shame, it could be such a cute little place to stay, and maybe it is in 'normal' times...
On the other hand, Broken Grounds Coffee, where we had breakfast the next morning since Hotel Millersburg didn't have breakfast...that place ruled. Nice little patio too.
We rode north toward Holmesville without incident and then onto Fredericksburg. That's where the trail ends and you have 17 miles of road with the most challenging terrain of the OTET. Just outside Fredericksburg is the worst of the hills - this demoralizing stretch here which doesn't even translate well in pictures. Yes, some of us walked a few hills. L made it up every hill without stopping or walking. What a pro!
Once you get through Apple Creek, it gets a little easier and a lot more scenic.
Signage is EXCELLENT on the road stretches. These OBR-1 signs would be nice as well, but certain trail networks prohibit them being posted for some reason...
Beautiful sunflower field just outside of Dalton...
Slight interruption by a train...

a_d_a_m 09-15-21 12:03 PM

There's a cyclist rest stop just before the trail picks up again, where you can get some shade, water, and a place to sit down for a bit. The couple that owns the house are very nice and this is a non-stabby place to hang out. You can even camp behind their house if you need to.
Do yourself a favor and get a Coney Dog from the Dalton Dari-Ette.
We stayed at the Hampton in Massillon, decent place, a little pricey, but that's the way it goes sometimes. The next morning, we stopped at Ernie's Bike Shop and pumped our tires up. Staff is super polite. Nice location, trailside, too.
Once you get north of Massillon, it becomes crushed limestone. Nice and smooth, but probably annoying after major rain. This stretch was named for Ralph Regula, a congressman.
I just so happened to randomly come across this button years ago, and was repping Mr. Regula during the week.
Near Canal Fulton and Clinton, some stretches become paved due to flooding concerns. Nice views, pleasant cruising, until you get to Vanderhoof Road. Then there's another killer hill, which we all made it up to the top without walking. But we took a break at the top...
You'll see a lot of these boardwalk type bridges just south of Akron.
You'll also ride past junkyards.
Recommended: Magic City Brewing Company. Amazing food, and the Florida Stanley beer was so refreshing. You'll find this just west of the Manchester Road Trailhead, which is well-marked and easy to access.

a_d_a_m 09-15-21 12:04 PM

The Rubber Ducks (minor league baseball team) were playing that night and the Goodyear Blimp was already up in the air.
There's no escaping Akron's connection to rubber.
We stayed at the priciest hotel we could find, the Courtyard Marriott on the north side of downtown. Luckily, it was within stumbling distance to the best pizza joint in town, Luigi's. You'd better check it out if you're nearby.
From my hotel room, you can see the lot from the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, which provides rides to cyclists and hikers all through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
It was a foggy morning, and fairly chilly, but it would eventually burn off the closer we got to Cleveland. But yeah, those first few miles were a little uncomfortable...
By the time we got into Peninsula, it was really pleasant in terms of temperature. However, the pedestrians were out in full force, being a Saturday on a holiday weekend.
As you exit the CVNP and enter the Cleveland Metroparks portion of the trail, it becomes paved.

a_d_a_m 09-15-21 12:04 PM

We opted to skip the official OTET route which sends you along the river and down/up some hills. We chose instead to go up W. 11th in Cleveland and across Abbey so we could snap this picture.
Wish I'd taken more pictures, but we were at Edgewater in no time.
And of course I had to dip the front tire in Lake Erie.
B's dad had some OTET 2021 medals made up for us at a local trophy shop, and you can see us wearing them here.
And then, something weird...I realized that it was the longest I'd ever gone in my life having not been in a car!
On the way home, I stopped for victory chicken wings and a very tall beer at my favorite wingery.

From Ohio to Erie...would I do it again? Absolutely.

Yul 09-15-21 05:38 PM

Thanks, a_d_a_m. Great photo story of a great ride. These are the memories we all should make. Followed your story on the map - almost like I was there. And saved few tips for my ride next year. Keep it up.

jpescatore 09-16-21 04:43 AM

Great trip, great writeup.

A friend who lives in Columbus and I planned out doing Cleveland back to Columbus a few years ago but a stationary front sat over the route for a week and flooded much of it - we got one day of riding in, from Mt. Vernon to Columbus - I did a Cycleblaze writeup here.

KPREN 09-16-21 08:42 AM

Can't join you on your ride since it is already completed. Very good report.

KC8QVO 09-16-21 09:08 AM

Excellent post!

I did the OTET between October/November of '20. I enjoyed your pictures.

I will partially agree with you on the Battelle Darby Creek park "gravel trail". However, I will caution you that Alkire Rd through there is a pretty bad road to ride on. People fly through there and with the combination of the dip through the valley and the turns visibility isn't good. Thats a bad mix for cyclists. You can zoom in on the heat map on Strava and will see that it is a common road route for cyclists. Just be careful and aware of traffic if you choose to do the road. Traffic patterns through the day change, also. Morning is best - but if it is in the middle of your riding day it is what it is.

I have not rode the section through Franklin County (where Columbus is) as I detour between the "trail" and home, so some of that is new. I have some ideas to go back and fill in the gap there.

You found the water fridge. Did you catch the sign on the trail for it? I passed the sign and thought about it, then turned around and checked it out.

Do you know where the cyclist rest stop is on the road section between Fredericksburg/Dalton? What road intersection? I do not recall seeing it, however I did ride in to Apple Creek. When I went through there were some detours with bridges out. There are many ways to slice that cake of road. I hit the laundromat in Apple Creek then kept going and found a spot trail-side E of Dalton to park for the night.

That day was a long ride - and you are correct. Those hills are crazy. It is a demoralizing road section with hill after hill. Miles traveled in a day is only 1/2 of the equation. You have to consider elevation and that segment of the "trail" really brings that theory to light.

My Strava history shows that segment as 26mi that day and 1138ft elevation gain.

At some point I'd like to bridge the OTET to the GAP diverting off the OTET S/SE out of Massilon.

a_d_a_m 09-16-21 12:44 PM

I knew the fridge was coming, and that there was shelter from the rain I was looking for it. Had I not known about it in advance, I probably would have missed it entirely.

The cyclist rest area near Dalton is at the corner of Henry and Wegner, linked here in a Google map:

Thanks for the positive feedback, y'all. I wish I had taken more and better pictures to share, but I was probably more concerned about completing each day rather than enjoying some of the views.

257 roberts 09-16-21 04:41 PM

Very nice write up Adam....thanks for taking the time to share your adventure with us.

KC8QVO 09-16-21 05:45 PM

Originally Posted by a_d_a_m (Post 22232840)
The cyclist rest area near Dalton is at the corner of Henry and Wegner, linked here in a Google map:

Well that explains a lot. I didn't get in to Dalton until midnight. Here is a picture looking across Rt 30.

Note the "OUT" sign. It encapsulates my sentiments exactly - note the mist. It was like that for about 8 days of my 12-13 on that leg of the trek.

Needless to say, in the middle of the night in the rain I wasn't exactly looking for a road side cyclist rest area/camp :D

cccorlew 09-16-21 08:33 PM

I'm in CA and was totally unaware of this trail. I'm now totally interested. Thanks for the photos and stories. I know it's more work then it seems to do a post this complete. Tip o' the hat for the ride, and teh post.

a_d_a_m 09-17-21 12:06 AM

Originally Posted by cccorlew (Post 22233520)
I'm in CA and was totally unaware of this trail. I'm now totally interested. Thanks for the photos and stories. I know it's more work then it seems to do a post this complete. Tip o' the hat for the ride, and teh post.

Iím glad you liked the write up. Iím happy to answer any questions you might have should you decide to make the trek.

Cougrrcj 09-17-21 04:52 PM

a_d_a_m Nice write-up!

Got three weeks to spare next time? I have my POO ride (Perimeter Of Ohio) just about all mapped out. That's the entire perimeter of the state, or ~1035 miles - but very flat. Flat along the shore of Lake Erie, and flat following the Ohio River from East Liverpool all the way to Cincy. The only moderately hilly sections are along the OH/PA line, and climbing out of Cincy to Oxford. Longest day is 65 miles, shortest is 38. Three planned 'rest days' My intent is to get all of the riding in before noon-1pm, and then spend the afternoon soaking in the history/ambiance of each little town/berg/village. Lots of history along the Ohio River!!! Week one takes me to along the Lake Erie shoreline, south along the OH/PA line to ELP, then follow the Ohio river to Marietta, week 2 keep following the Ohio River to Cincy and up to to Oxford, week 3 north along the OH/IN line,East along the OH/MI line to Toledo and back to CLE.

In fact, the longest day is the first day from home (Grafton) to Fairport Harbor. I'm also trying to figure out a good way across Sandusky Bay... Ride (illegally) on the Rt 2/269 bay bridge, Or do I take a ferry from Port Clinton or Catawba to Put-in-Bay, then another from there to Sandusky?

a_d_a_m 09-17-21 05:35 PM

I won't be able to POO for 3 weeks straight, sadly. :D I get decent amounts of vacation time but I don't want to spend it all in one place.

But, it sounds like an awesome ride. Once you get an itinerary together, post up in the Great Lakes forum (or here in Touring?) and maybe I can jump in for a segment or two of it. You mentioned Fairport...that's right up the road from me. Are you staying at a BNB that day, or do you know someone up that way?

Reference Sandusky, yeah, sucks about Rt. 2 and I certainly wouldn't ride it. Too much OSP presence up there. Your could head south a bit and ride the North Coast Inland Trail...?

Cougrrcj 09-17-21 06:47 PM

POO. Yeah, I need a better name/acronym than that - but it is somehow fitting...

Sandusky Bay Bridge -- Maybe use Uber/Lyft across????

KC8QVO 09-17-21 07:58 PM

Originally Posted by Cougrrcj (Post 22234924)
Sandusky Bay Bridge -- Maybe use Uber/Lyft across????

The only way I would lean on vehicular transportation is if my ride was unridable.

The exception to that would be trips that combine other forms of transportation - flying to another continent, taking a ferry to an island, or riding a train to the start or end of a tour.

With that having been said, you might check with some fishing charters and see if they would be willing to shuttle you across from the harbor at Cedar Point over to Catawba Is. You may even check with the harbor masters. If I had a boat up there and heard someone had a crazy idea like yours I'd give you a ride.

Cougrrcj 09-22-21 04:52 PM

I have contacted Ohio's US Senator Rob Portman (himself a cyclist) about the Sandusky Bay issue, as well as asking that he sponsor POO (without calling it that ;) ). I also offered to ride with him on the POO route as a 'whistle-stop-tour' upon his retirement from the US Senate to promote Ohio tourism...

AND to promote/develop a bicycle-friendly route across the bay. Even a possible protected bike lane across the Sandusky Bay Bridge (aka Edison Bridge)...

Cougrrcj 09-22-21 04:56 PM

Originally Posted by a_d_a_m (Post 22234855)
Reference Sandusky, yeah, sucks about Rt. 2 and I certainly wouldn't ride it. Too much OSP presence up there. Your could head south a bit and ride the North Coast Inland Trail...?

Too far from Ohio's summer playground (read: TOURIST area) of Catawba/Marblehead/Lake Erie Islands....

Cougrrcj 09-26-21 12:01 PM

@ a_d_a_m I completed the preliminary route on ride-with-GPS, verifying that it was ~1048 miles, and surprisingly almost 24,000' of climbing.
The hack marks along the bottom are each 100 miles. The hacks on the left are 100' increments, with the lowest hack at 500' The first 110 miles is following the Lake Erie shoreline from Lorain to Conneaut at the OH/PA border. That higher elevation profile from ~110 to 210 is the bit along the OH/PA state line. Then 210-685 is following the Ohio River from East Liverpool to Cincy, with the section from 210-265 is mostly 4-lane highway (but NOT an Interstate). There is the option of riding on the West Virginia side where there is a bike trail along the river from Wellsburg to Wheeling (~20 miles) The climb out of the Ohio River Valley by Cincinnati is also not as bad as it looks. The dip at ~830 is the Maumee River valley ( that runs from Fort Wayne IN to Toledo) The next 'peak' is at the OH/IN/MI border, then gradually back down to Lake Erie in Toledo at 940, then 110 miles back to Lorain OH.

Don't be alarmed at the abruptness of elevation changes - they got compacted since the route is so long. The steepest grade is 7%, and not for very long - 431' of climbing in 1.7 miles for an average climb of 4.7%

The route MAY be 35 miles shorter if I cut out the loops around the Catawba and Marblehead peninsulas by the Lake Erie Islands and (illegally) riding across the Sandusky Bay Bridge -- I looked into the logistics of getting across the Sandusky Bay, and the two ferry rides from the tip of the Catawba peninsula to Put-in-Bay (South Bass Island), would run about $8 plus another $2.50 for the bike for the first leg, and $23 plus $5 for bike for the PIB-Kelly's Island-Sandusky. BTW, the stop at Kelly's Island could also turn into an excursion to the State Park (camping available - reservations required!) and to see the Glacial Grooves....

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