Day 15: Ohio flattens out

6/29/15: 40 miles, Columbus, Ohio, to London, Ohio

A couple weeks ago, I’d received an email from a guy named John in Columbus. He’d seen my itinerary posted on the Adventure Cycling Association’s website, where riders can link up with others on tour. He said he was considering riding to San Francisco and asked if he could jump on my train. I told him sure, and that I’d be leaving Columbus on the 29th. We’d exchanged a few candid emails and had a phone call over the past two weeks, and seemed like we’d get along. You have to go over everything: experience, expected mileage, camping habits, if the person is flexible to take rest days and such, and conversely, if they’re into drugs and partying, and so on.

Today was the 29th, and when I talked to John, he didn’t sound ready. At first, I was going to wait. But what if he wasn’t ready to ride the next day? After all, I’d never met the guy, so I had no commitment to ride. It was raining that morning, and rain sucks, but it doesn’t deter me (which you’ll know from reading past posts here). I called John and told him I was going to head out of town, and that I’d be in London, Ohio, if he wanted to catch up the next day. No hard feelings, but I had eaten a ton the night before, packed up and mentally was ready. He understood and said he’d try to meet me the next day.

After the wedding weekend, Michelle and I spent Sunday night at the Buxton Inn in Granville where I went to college. Had dinner with a former professor and showed Michelle around campus (from the car, in the rain). She drove me to REI at Easton in Columbus for some last-minute odds and ends, food and more. And it was roughly where I’d left off on Friday. I made my way to the Alum Creek Trail, connecting to the Interstate 670 path to downtown Columbus and eventually onto the Scioto Greenway Trail where I’d be back on the OTE. I was soaked.

I rode the Greenway out of downtown and onto a road section that would take me out of Columbus’ west side. Thus began the worst stretch of road I’ve ridden then entire trip. For some reason, the OTE maps led me along U.S. 40 (Broad Street) for three miles. It was potholed, cracked, crumbled when it wasn’t under construction, giving me no room to jockey with orange barrels and rain-spraying trucks trying to get on I-270. I stopped to map my way off U.S. 40 down side streets, cut a corner and got away from the mess. Maybe Broad Street was in good shape at one time, but whoever is calling the shots for the OTE should reconsider this stretch. It sucks.

Then, of course, I check the OTE website, where I find this note:

“The printed map instructs people to use Broad Street, however until October 2016, it is under major construction west of I-270 and these conditions make an already challenging connection nearly impossible. Ohio to Erie Trail leadership provides the following alternative route which is 9.17 miles going from SW to NE.”

Face palm. I’ve gotten better at checking route updates online.

The rain kept up all day through the Camp Chase Trail, Darby Creek Park and into Madison County. I stayed at a $25 hostel in a carriage house behind the Alexandra’s B&B, where a guy named George let me in. The place was half-garage, half-hostel. George had a motor attached to some Wal-Mart bike, and it made the whole place smell like gas. I tried to keep air moving in the place. I was the only person there, luckily, so I spread out, turned on some fans, and listened to Marc Maron’s interview with Obama.

Today was the first day of the rest of the trip. In some ways, after taking time off the bike, I was beginning the trip over again. From here, the schedule was clear for me to get to the West Coast.

John texted me and said he’d try to meet me in London the next morning. I ate half of a stromboli from Phat Daddy’s Pizza and passed out.

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