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Want to do first tour, Northern Ohio

Old 07-07-23, 11:18 AM
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Want to do first tour, Northern Ohio

I am turning 40 next year. I am a semi-casual rider now, just doing smaller rides of 10-15 miles a few times a week. I want to do a 2 day tour from Cleveland to Toledo. Here is my plan: I want to take Amtrak from Cleveland to Toledo, ride from the station to the Kelleys Island ferry dock in Marblehead. Ferry over to Kelleys, camp at the state park. Take Jet Express to Sandusky, then ride from Sandusky to Cleveland. Each leg is roughly 60 miles.

I used to do long distance rides, but kids and family have gotten in the way and I have always been interested in touring since I started riding. As a 40th birthday present to myself I want to commit to this and finally do a tour. I would be using my 2003 Trek 4600 that has been converted to single-speed and rigid. Any advice would be welcomed!
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Old 07-07-23, 03:27 PM
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Touring

Your post speaks to me as I'm in central Ohio and turn 40 next year and want to do some touring. I can't offer much advice on the route you mentioned, but have you ever considered riding part of the Ohio to Erie Trail?

I'd work up to some longer rides to prepare and ensure comfort on the bike. Also, do you have bags squared away?

Good luck!
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Old 07-07-23, 07:12 PM
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This sounds quite cool. How much of the route is away from motor vehicle traffic? I'm in Northeast Ohio and regularly ride rail trails in the area and, when I can, the towpath through CVNP, but haven't done any multi-day rides. I'd really like to ride the Great Allegheny Passage.
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Old 07-07-23, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by TrekCommuter
Your post speaks to me as I'm in central Ohio and turn 40 next year and want to do some touring. I can't offer much advice on the route you mentioned, but have you ever considered riding part of the Ohio to Erie Trail?

I'd work up to some longer rides to prepare and ensure comfort on the bike. Also, do you have bags squared away?

Good luck!
just did this last month plus a little more. Great trail, in great shape. Highly recommend it. Averaged 50 per day but did a couple of 70. Besides the place where the there is a few miles detour, it is flat. My oldest child is just over 40
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Old 07-07-23, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by debade
just did this last month plus a little more. Great trail, in great shape. Highly recommend it. Averaged 50 per day but did a couple of 70. Besides the place where the there is a few miles detour, it is flat. My oldest child is just over 40
Very nice! Glad to hear you had a good experience. Bridge of Dreams is pretty neat, eh?
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Old 07-08-23, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by TrekCommuter
Your post speaks to me as I'm in central Ohio and turn 40 next year and want to do some touring. I can't offer much advice on the route you mentioned, but have you ever considered riding part of the Ohio to Erie Trail?

I'd work up to some longer rides to prepare and ensure comfort on the bike. Also, do you have bags squared away?

Good luck!
Equipment is in progress, this wouldn't be until next summer. I am good with camping and bike repair, so I have a rough idea of what I'll need. I would also do a trial run s24o
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Old 07-08-23, 08:24 PM
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Have you checked out the North Coast Inland Trail in Northern Ohio. I picked this up on my tour from Detroit to Washington DC. Very pleasant.
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Old 07-09-23, 11:18 AM
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Another great option for a first tour is to take Amtrak to Pittsburgh, do a 2-3 day on the GAP trail to Cumberland and take Amtrak back to Cleveland. Tickets/bike spots on the Capitol Limited may get sold out.
The train arrives to Pittsburgh in the morning, you can get off the train and start riding. Plenty of camping options on the GAP trail. The trail itself is excellent, it can in principle be done even on a road bike.
It was my first tour when I was 36.
https://gaptrail.org/
https://bikecando.com/
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Old 07-11-23, 12:46 PM
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I'll be touring around there in August and September if you want to ride!
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Old 07-16-23, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by trekkie820
I am turning 40 next year. I am a semi-casual rider now, just doing smaller rides of 10-15 miles a few times a week. I want to do a 2 day tour from Cleveland to Toledo. Here is my plan: I want to take Amtrak from Cleveland to Toledo, ride from the station to the Kelleys Island ferry dock in Marblehead. Ferry over to Kelleys, camp at the state park. Take Jet Express to Sandusky, then ride from Sandusky to Cleveland. Each leg is roughly 60 miles.

I used to do long distance rides, but kids and family have gotten in the way and I have always been interested in touring since I started riding. As a 40th birthday present to myself I want to commit to this and finally do a tour. I would be using my 2003 Trek 4600 that has been converted to single-speed and rigid. Any advice would be welcomed!
Congrats on hitting 40 and congrats on setting a hard goal of getting in to bike touring.

I want to toss in, cautiously, some reality to consider. I was a new tourist a few years ago - that is, I had a lot of ideas but had not "been out there". You can have all the best goals, intentions, and plans you want ahead of time. However, until you "get out there" you won't really know what you're up against. How you deal with what you run in to touring is a uniquely solo and personal experience.

That said, the first point I want to make is this:
I would do a shake down ride or two closer to home. What I would do is find a way you can do an overnight out-and-back ride. Pack as you intend for your "big trip". This will do several things - it will let you get the experience of getting everything you are wanting to take with you on the bike. Packing and securing stuff to the bike might not go how you envision it up front. Practicing it and mixing up how you do it when you have the time to work through it might be a blessing.

My 2nd point is what you are trying to pack in to a 2 day period.
I honestly do not think you can do everything you are wanting to do within a 2 day period. One of the hard things about bike touring is the available time in today's busy world. I think a shake down ride is what you can do over a 2 day period. To pack in a train ride across the top of Ohio, the boat trips across Lake Erie, and camping on Kellys Island over 2 days is a very lofty goal from my perspective - even if you can average a fast pace on your bike.

My 3ord point is to enjoy your tour.
A common theme with a lot of riders doing "tours" is they set high mileage/fast time goals because they are trying to "do the most in the little time they have". What happens when you do that is everything about your trip becomes rushed. You ride with tunnel vision - that "I need to get to my next stop by 4:00 so I can't even stop to take a pee" perspective. If you allow more time you get to take your time. If you pass by a town square and there is a monument in the middle of a round-a-bout with a plaque describing the history of the town and the monument you can stop and read it. If there is a coffee shop in that town square and you need to charge your phone you can pop in, grab a coffee, and plug your phone in for a bit. If there is a lake along the trail with a bench overlooking the water you can stop and watch the water and the ducks for a minute.

A main theme to nail down with your idea of "touring" is - are you simply wanting the experience of "traveling by bicycle"? Or are you wanting the experience of all the unique perspective of things afforded to you WHEN you travel by bicycle?

All too often people new to touring have a narrow view of the former and put themselves in a prime position to miss nearly all of the latter ending up with a disappointing adventure.

My honest and humble opinion is you try to plan your big trip out with more time. I would say 4 days would be a better goal for that trip. Day 1 would be traveling to Cleveland. Day 2 would be get up early and hit the ride. If you can make it to Kellys Island, great. If your 1st mileage day doesn't go as smoothly as you had planned and you need to stop for the night - stop for the night and continue on to Kellys Island the next day. If that happens and your goal is to camp on Kellys Island then you can do so the 3ord night and, if you're close to the dock the 2nd night you can get to Kellys Island at a reasonable time and have more exploration time on the 3ord day before you camp there. Then get up on the 4th day and make your attempt to get back. Now you are putting yourself in easier reach of people back home so if you have to call your wife, neighbor, friend, whoever to come rescue you then you aren't very far away - for vehicle travel. Though, you say you have it planned out to 2x 60 mile days so at that point you would be picking off the last of the 2nd 60 at that point. That is a reasonable mileage to get to the point of just saying "screw it, I'm going to hammer through" even if it does get you home at midnight before needing to get up the next morning and go to work. Which I wouldn't recommend that - I would suggest giving yourself at least 1 down day after your trip before you go to work.

For what it is worth - my 1st big tour was 2x segments of the Ohio to Erie Trail. It spans between the Ohio River in Cincinnati to Lake Erie in Cleveland. I started around Columbus and went north first. I made it all the way up and started heading back. The weather turned and I was in for a couple days straight of rain. I waited out one 0 day at a camp near Akron, I think, then made some miles and decided to get a ride back home so I wasn't sitting for 2 more 0 days in the rain. I don't have a tent tall enough to stand up in so laying down or sitting on my sleeping pad on my butt for 2 more days didn't really appeal to me. I had made the trek to the lake, though, so that was my main goal. And since I passed through the trail on the way up I already saw everything. Though, I did miss out on some of the sights etc on the way back I'm glad I didn't try to plow on through the monsoon. The 2nd leg of the trek was to go down to Cinci. I did a couple 0 days at a Morgans camp near Lebanon/Red Lion - one on the way down and one on the way up. On the way up (last leg of the trip) that was the most mileage I made in a single day on the whole trip - I had a heavy tail wind. That day I did, I think, 54 miles. I went all the way from Morgans to the trail camp on the south side of London. Then it was a 1 day shot from London home. Once I left the trail to the road to weave home I didn't have any camping opportunities. On the trail I was OK stealth camping for the most part, I had opportunities and if I wasn't comfortable in one area I could ride for a while and I could always find a spot, not necessarily ideal, but a spot none-the-less.

So just think through your trip. Give some consideration to the thought of enjoying the unique perspective traveling via bicycle offers, and not just the idea of getting to the destinations on a tight time schedule. I'm sure you will enjoy your trip a lot more if you do that.
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Old 07-16-23, 11:17 AM
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One more point -

Though I have not traveled via Amtrak with a bicycle, I have traveled via Amtrak - and not a commuter shuttle run. I enjoyed my experience immensely. I am not sure if you have traveled via Amtrak before also. If you were going on a longer trip I would suggest getting a room as opposed to just a seat. Yea it costs a lot more. The train I was on had a car between the rooms and the cars with just seats that was a cafe and small dining area. I thought they had decent food. The car I rode in had a ton of room for carry on luggage. I would follow the guidance of others on bicycles, though I can tell you in that car they had plenty of room for bicycles - whether or not they would allow you to bring one in there or not is another question.

To my knowledge - only full train stations cater to checked luggage - including bicycle boxes.

When I rode the train I got on at a small stop in N Indiana - it was not a "train station". I got off at the main station in Cincinatti. That station would have been equipped for checked luggage, however I think I got there at around 2am and things were pretty thin at the station so I am not sure how unloading checked luggage at that hour would have gone. Everything I had was carry-on.

Think through your train trip and plan accordingly.

Also, the trains are on pretty firm schedules. They aren't uber rides. They will stop at every stop between your point A and point B. And if you aren't there to get on at your point A when the train leaves your SOL. So be early. Even 2 hours early.
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Old 07-27-23, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by KC8QVO
One more point -

Though I have not traveled via Amtrak with a bicycle, I have traveled via Amtrak - and not a commuter shuttle run. I enjoyed my experience immensely. I am not sure if you have traveled via Amtrak before also. If you were going on a longer trip I would suggest getting a room as opposed to just a seat. Yea it costs a lot more. The train I was on had a car between the rooms and the cars with just seats that was a cafe and small dining area. I thought they had decent food. The car I rode in had a ton of room for carry on luggage. I would follow the guidance of others on bicycles, though I can tell you in that car they had plenty of room for bicycles - whether or not they would allow you to bring one in there or not is another question.

To my knowledge - only full train stations cater to checked luggage - including bicycle boxes.

When I rode the train I got on at a small stop in N Indiana - it was not a "train station". I got off at the main station in Cincinatti. That station would have been equipped for checked luggage, however I think I got there at around 2am and things were pretty thin at the station so I am not sure how unloading checked luggage at that hour would have gone. Everything I had was carry-on.

Think through your train trip and plan accordingly.

Also, the trains are on pretty firm schedules. They aren't uber rides. They will stop at every stop between your point A and point B. And if you aren't there to get on at your point A when the train leaves your SOL. So be early. Even 2 hours early.

​​​​​A Short s24o was in the plans as preparation for the main event. Additionally, the train from CLE to TOL is just 3 hours, and I planned on riding back to my car in Cleveland. Along the planned route there are state parks that I can "bail out" to if things aren't going well. I am a former bicycle mechanic, also a veteran of a few supported 150 mile tours in the late 2000s, so I have a general idea of what it takes. I may have been a bit mistaken in saying "first tour", probably should have said first SOLO tour lol
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