The road to C-bus
The next couple days of my tour went significantly better than the first two. Having pretty much redlined myself every day up until this point, my goal shifted to simply arriving with somewhere to sleep without being being 100% drained. To that end, I left Loudonville through the Mohican-Memorial State Forest with two campgrounds designated as stopping places around Delaware: one if I was feeling really good, the other if I wasn’t.
As it turns out, I ended up at the latter. The State forest was a nice change of pace from the endless farmland and rolling hills that is rural Ohio. It brought with it a number of completely ridic hills. My bike GPS kept ticking up: 15%,16%,17%… at one point it read 20%. All I know, is that in my lowest gear 26 up front and 24 in the back it was absolutely murder. At some point in time, I gave up on pedaling, and was content just pushing my heavy ass rig uphill. Even without riding, I was still completely out of breath.
Luckily, the hills and forest were short-lived that day and transformed into a slow-grind through a light drizzle and intense headwind towards Frederickstown. It was still pretty draining and demoralizing, but at least grinding in my granny gear on flatland was sustainable. My grind down route 95 was interrupted by the sound of loud barking. At first it made no impression, until I realized the sound was getting closer and in my rearview I could see two furry shapes increasing in speed behind me in my rearview. With the realization that I was being chased by two potentially wild dogs, I instantaneously switched from a slow grind into a “OH SHIT” full-on sprint. I maxed out the small ring and found that they were still gaining on me, about 2 bike lengths behind. I took a risk and shifted to the middle ring to give myself a little more speed. This being friction shifters, there was some significant hesitation of the derailleur. I had a moment of panic, thinking that the chain had been completely dropped, but I finally made it to a bigger gear. I went almost instantly anaerobic, but quickly realized I had put some distance behind me and the dogs. In my rearview, I could eventually see them stop and turn around the other way. Needless to say, from that point on I was quite apprehensive whenever I heard dogs barking.
The rest of the ride to Frederickstown was rather uneventful. After eating a sandwich for lunch, I departed towards Autumn Lakes Campground, finding rain replaced with sunshine and brutal headwinds replaced with, well, more headwinds. As it turns out heading southwest across the midwest is pretty stupid, considering that winds typically blow northeast.
I was greeted at Autmn Lakes by a lady who asked if I was part of the Adventure Cycling group. She had given me a biking discount for staying at their campground because apparently the Adventure Cycling paid tours for the Underground Railroad route passes through there. I quickly realized that this place was more of a resort than a campground. There was running water, showers, electricity hookups, a general store, a pool, and wi-fi. Not exactly roughing it, but I think I’m alright with that.
Riding towards Columbus, was pretty uneventful. There was a typical westerly headwind going into Delaware, which then turned into an intense crosswind as I headed south. On the run into town, I suddenly recognized that I was going to pass by the one of the offices I worked IT for at OSU. I stopped by Manor Homes and had a chat with my former boss before heading back on the road. As I got closer to Columbus, it seemed like the drivers got more aggressive and had shittier mufflers. Thankfully, I was eventually able to hop onto the Olentangy River Trail to get into campus. They had revamped the trail quite a bit since I had been there. I was able to exit the trail within 1-2 miles of where my good friend Chris lived, marking the first real milestone of this trip for me. It’s taken me double the time I had initially planned for, but I think I’m starting to settle into a rhythm. I may not make it all the way to Arizona, but at least I’m going somewhere.