Day 13: Rain and hills through Amish country

6/25/15: 91 miles, Akron, Ohio, to Mount Vernon, Ohio

It was a long sufferfest across the midsection of Ohio, but one of the best — and hardest — rides I’ve had on the trip. From Akron, I followed the Ohio-to-Erie trail along tail end of the Cuyahoga Valley towpath to Massillon, a post-industrial town that reminds me of Hammond, Ind., a town I’ve ridden through from Chicago.

The OTE took me along the Sippo Valley Trail to Dalton, followed by jaunts along country roads through Wayne County. Eventually picked up the Holmes County Trail, which is double wide for cyclists on one side and Amish buggies on the other. Steady, cold drizzle fell, but I had the path to myself aside from three riders I met heading to Cleveland from Cincinnati:

That explains why I didn’t see many buggies on the road–many of them were on the trail. After chatting with a Boy Scouts group from Georgia that was on a tour up to Cleveland, I met Michelle in Millersburg and had lunch at a place called Bags to warm up and dry off. I didn’t accomplish either, but I had an amber lager from Millersburg Brewing Co. next door. I finished out the Holmes County Trail when serious hills in Knox County began. From Killbuck to Brinkhaven, I thought my knees were going to explode as I mashed my granny gear (the easiest gear I could ride in). Barely going walking pace, enough to stay upright. But the views across the rolling hills of this part of Ohio, which I’d never seen before, were a worthy payoff. The views always are.

I began the Mohican Valley Trail at the Bridge of Dreams, the longest covered bridge in Ohio, and was met with atrocious cyclocross conditions. Mud, gravel, horseshit, horseshoe prints, ruts…not ideal for heavy loaded touring. Better for an ATV:

Frustrated, I Google Mapped my way around the last two miles of MVT to Danville, where the Kokosing Gap Trail began. It’s a 13-mile paved rail trail, one of the smoothest and well-maintained, into Mount Vernon. The run abated and late afternoon sun peaked through the trees, drying up the path. Relief. The way to end the day. I stopped by Kenyon College in Gambier, the rival to my alma mater, Denison, for a quick heckle…

…and look around, before jamming the last few miles to Mount Vernon, where Michelle and I got a night at the Mount Vernon Inn. I was soaked, and setting up camp on wet ground was a tough sell, so we lived it up for a night.

 

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