The 2018 Father’s Day Weekend brought the running of the 30th Anniversary of the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure, and our brother-in-law’s 30th participation in it. A.J. is one of only a couple of dozen people who have ridden every running of this event, and this year we were lucky enough to be able to join him in this celebration. The 2018 GOBA began and ended at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, north of Columbus, Ohio, and circles Columbus counterclockwise for a week of bicycling and camping.
On Sunday, June 17th, we rose early at Pam and A.J. house in Dayton, and arrived at the Fairgrounds at 6:45AM, where we registered, loaded our luggage into the Luggage Travel Vans, and parked our cars. By 7:20AM, we were cycling on the road through pastoral settings past large farms and fields of corn and soybeans. Today’s terrain was reasonably flat with only 250ft of elevation change. The Breakfast stop was at the 13-mile mark, where locals sold PB&J sandwiches, fruit and breakfast burritos. Lunch was provided by Subway at the 31-mile mark, but 1-mile before then, A.J. suffered a catastrophic tire blow-out requiring a temporary tire patch and new tube. With appreciated, friendly help from recreational cyclists from the Trek Bike Shop in Dublin, Ohio, we limped into the lunch stop where A.J. had new tires and tubes installed. After repairs, we resumed our ride to the afternoon water stop at the 40-mile mark. However, this stop was not set-up, and by now, the temperature had reached a humid 92 degrees F, and many participants were stopping to rest and struggling with the heat. Luckily, 2 young ladies from Phat Daddy’s Pizza were at the 45-mile mark giving away much-appreciated bottled water. After 57 miles, we arrived at the London, Ohio Fairgrounds where we located our luggage, set up our tents and were off to the well-needed shower trucks. After showers, we all walked the one mile into downtown looking for a cold beer. However, today being Sunday, we could only find one local bar, “Jim’s”, where the beer was cold, and we were the only customers that were not local. After getting refreshed, we walked to Phat’s Pizza to “thank” them and to enjoy a gyro pizza snack. We returned to the Fairgrounds for a spirited came of cards and a quiet afternoon. That evening, we enjoyed pulled pork sandwiches from the “Buckeye BBQ Truck” before settling in for an early night’s sleep.
On Monday morning, we awoke ~6:15AM and set off on our bikes to the nearby town of South Charleston, 13 miles away along the paved National Bike Rail Path. In town, we located a small Coffee Shop called “All in Flavor Café & Sweets Shop” where we enjoyed breakfast burritos, bagels and coffee. From there, we rode leisurely back to the Fairgrounds for showers, and then shuttled back into London to visit the public Library – one of the nearly 2500 Carnegie Libraries originally built in 1905 by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Although added-on-to in 1989, the original plasterwork, molding and tall ceilings remain. Here we caught up on world news, charged our cell phones and relaxed in air-conditioning. Afterwards, we returned to the camp at the Fairgrounds for a round of cards, before shuttling to a Mexican Restaurant for chili rellenos, fajitas and quesadillas. After dinner, we returned to camp to relax and settle-in for the night.
Tuesday morning, we were up at 5:00AM to pack, take down our tent, and load up our luggage into the luggage vans. We were on our bikes by 6:00AM for the day’s 54-mile ride south on the west side of Columbus. The route included passing through Madison Lake State Park, and into Deer Creek State Park where a massive dam creates a beautiful lake surrounded by wildflowers, a marina, beach and lodge. Today’s ride was hot again, and water stops were welcomed along our way to the town Circleville. A.J. and Rocky made the complete ride in 3 ½ hours with all stops and average a surprising 18 mph! At Circleville, we stayed on the school grounds where all three schools (Elementary, Middle, and High School), are located. Here, we initially set up our tents, but on hearing of the strong likelihood of evening storms, we took advantage of the opportunity to stay in the gymnasium for the night. Therefore, after repacking our tents, we set up our bedrolls indoors before we traveled into town for huge, late lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings followed by a visit to the Circleville Library, where a series of special programs for GOBA riders was made available. They provided drinks, snacks, popcorn, games, puzzles, movies and charging stations in an amazing show of hospitality and graciousness. After enjoying ourselves for a couple of hours, we headed back to the camp where we strolled about before settling in for the night.
The next morning, the gym lights went on at 5:00AM, and we were up, packed and ready to get the day started. After dropping our bags at the luggage vans and grabbing a quick cup of coffee, we set off in the beginning light only to be met with a thick fog that soaked our clothes and covered our bikes and glasses. Today’s 53-mile route travels up and down in hilly countryside, challenging our climbing ability, and reaching downhill speeds approaching 40 mph! Our breakfast stop was in 16 miles, at a local Methodist Church. However, they had only just found out about hosting it, and were scrambling to meet the hungry and thirsty hoard of riders. Lunch stop was another 12 miles away at a local family’s produce farm where the whole family was on-hand to help and to sell fruit, sandwiches, snacks and drinks. After lunch, the fog cleared, and we made our way into the city of Lancaster where the route went through the center of town into the front gates of the Lancaster Fairgrounds. Here, Rocky and A.J. set up the tents and everyone took a well-deserved shower before heading across the street to a local pub that had opened the day Prohibition ended. Here we had some cold drinks and snacks before catching the shuttle back to downtown, which was in full celebration. Lancaster had arranged a city celebration for the cyclists including a city-center stage and band, stilt-walkers, cotton candy, etc. From here we went to the library to catch up on the news of the day, and to charge our electronics, until they closed at 5:00PM. After they closed, we went to the town square to enjoy the festivities and play a few hands of cards, until A.J. had to attend his “Golden GOBA Dinner” – honoring those who had ridden so many years. During A.J.’s dinner, the rest of us headed to O’Houl’s – an authentic English Pub where we had fish & chips, mushy peas and nachos. During dinner, a huge rainstorm hit, but it had subsided by the time we met to walk back to camp. That night, the rains came and went, but we were cozy in our tents and sleeping bags.
Thursday morning was overcast but dry and was the day of the Summer Solstice! We “slept in” until 6:15AM, when we got up and decided to ride the 15-miles from Lancaster to Pleasantville for breakfast. The ride was beautiful and cool – passing 3 old covered bridges and a few gentle hills. Unfortunately, the restaurant that we were looking for wasn’t in Pleasantville but was another 5-miles down the road in the town of New Salem. After some confusing directions from locals, we finally found “The Old Town Diner” – a quaint “one woman” establishment that was the favorite hangout of the locals. The owner was a pleasant woman who greeted, served, cooked, bussed and washed dishes, all the while cheerful and attentive to a not-full coffee cup or water glass. The food was excellent, and we conversed with the local customers before setting off for the return bike trip back to camp.
At camp, we showered and then looked at the impending weather forecast. That evening and the entire next day called for torrential thunderstorms, and so we made the decision to “bail”! We called for an Uber to take the girls the 60 miles back to the cars in Delaware, and meanwhile Rocky and A.J. packed up the gear and the tents, and moved everything, including the bikes, under cover in the “Goat Building”. Since it would take the girls 2 ½ hours to get to the cars and return to Lancaster with them, Rocky and A.J. revisited the local bar to replenish their fluids while waiting. The girls arrived with the vehicles ~ 2:40pm, and after loading gear and bikes into the vehicles, we made the 1 ½ drive back to the farmhouse in Dayton. Another GOBA – albeit shortened – under our belts!