For those of you who know me or just follow my blog, you know that I like to tour by bicycle.
This is my first blog post for this year’s major tour. I’m testing out my blogging software and making sure it’s all working properly. My tour won’t start for a few more days yet.
Since 2010 I have been taking one multi-day bike trip each year. I enjoy the peace of bike touring, seeing new places, and spending time on two wheels. I enjoy the research before the trip, the company of good people that I tour with, and those I meet while I’m riding. I’ve always toured with someone in the past. I’ve been with large groups twice, my daughter once, and my good friend Joe several times. This year is going to be very different.
Unlike years previously, I’m starting very close to home. In fact, I’m starting from my own driveway. This year’s bike tour will start at my home in Lexington, KY, riding through the rural roads of Kentucky north to Cincinnati, then across Ohio and ending in Cleveland at the lake front, with a stop in Massillon OH. I expect to log around 450 miles over 7 or 8 days of riding.
The first difference is that I will not be touring with anyone. I am touring by myself, supported by what I carry on my bike. My usual ride buddy, Joe, is not able to come with me. I’ll admit that I have a touch of both nervousness and excitement about solo touring. I’ve always enjoyed having company and also the security of knowing that if something goes wrong, there’s someone who’s got my back. On the other hand, I’m going to have the opportunity to just go wherever my mind and heart wander at my own pace. I expect to make a few side trips just to check out towns, parks, and perhaps a craft brewery or two.
The second difference is that I have a higher purpose for this tour. This year is not just about getting away with my bike, spending time outdoors, and seeing things. When I was deciding where to ride this year I considered lots of options and consulted my bucket list. In the end I decided to dedicate this particular riding time to a pilgrimage. My first destination is the shrine for St. Dymphna in Massillon, Ohio which is located a bit south of Akron – about 360 miles from my house. Why? Over the past year, I’ve been spending time with many people who are suffering from mental illness. St. Dymphna is the patron saint for those with mental challenges. So I will be carrying several names with me and praying for them each day along the way. If you have anyone you’d like me to be praying for or a special intention to carry with me to the shrine, please send it to me. I will hold all of them in confidence.
After I reach Massillon, I will continue another day’s journey to the lakefront in Cleveland for my final destination.
A few years ago, my friend Joe and I rode south across Ohio along basically the same route from Cleveland to Cincy. This is great bike route called Ohio Bike Route 1, or better known as “The Ohio To Erie Trail” or #OTET for short. More on that later in future postings. I’ll be calling this year’s route the “KY + #OTET” tour since I’m using the combination of my own route across Kentucky to Cincinnati, plus the Ohio To Erie Trail from Cincy to Cleveland.
The third difference is that I have a new touring bike this year! Since 2011, I’ve been touring on a converted Motobecane Cyclocross bike that I bought used. I had added the appropriate gear to make it viable for touring – racks, fenders, and so on. It has always been a very reliable bike, but not quite right for the purpose. I have lots of wonderful memories and nearly 20,000 miles on that bike! I performed a complete tear down and rebuild on it two years ago, so it is still in great shape. However I decided to splurge with all of my “mad money” that I’ve saved over the last several years to buy a new bike that is more appropriate for touring. I purchased a 2018 Specialized Sequoia Expert and have spent the last few weeks outfitting it for touring and doing some test rides. Although I have about 800 miles on it so far, I’ll save my initial thoughts and post an equipment review after my tour once I see how it holds up to the daily routine of touring.
So, although I’m going to be in some familiar territory, this tour will be different. I am very much looking forward to getting out there. The closer the date gets, the more excited I am.
My itinerary is roughly the following, but I may make daily decisions to modify the distances and destination:
- Day 1 (August 16): Home (Lexington) to Paris KY – a very short day just to get started
- Day 2: to Falmouth or Butler KY (TBD)
- Day 3: to Milford OH – joining up with the OTET route when I arrive in Cincinnati
- Day 4: Cedarville OH
- Day 5: Columbus or Westerville OH
- Day 6: Danville OH
- Day 7: Massillon OH
- Day 8: South side of Cleveland or maybe even all the way to the lake
- Day 9: Very short day to arrive at the lakefront, meet up with my wife, and then drive home.
I will be starting this adventure on the evening of August 16.
So between now and then, if you have any concerns or prayer requests you’d like me to carry with me on this ride (in confidential care, of course), please send them to me at: email@example.com