The rain continued to fall in Columbus, Ohio this week, and as a result, the trails near my house were once again muddy and unrideable. I contemplated taking a short road trip to Mohican State Park to hit the singletrack, but I was worried that with all the rain the region had gotten, that it might not be worth the drive. Instead, I opted to take my mountain bike on a little tour of the streets and bike paths of the city.
I didn’t have very high expectations for this ride, but the journey ended up taking on a life of its own. It turned into the kind of adventure that reminded me of why I like to ride my bike.
I’ve been cruising around on my bike around since I was a little boy, but it wasn’t the fitness aspect that kept drawing me to the activity, it was the opportunity to explore my community that got me excited.
As a grade schooler, I was mostly restricted to my block and a few other streets around my house in Toledo. Back and forth, I would ride up and down the street, passing my friends houses and waiting for someone to come out and play.
As I moved up to Junior High School, my adventures started to be measured in miles. I rode my bike to Bennett Park for little league practice, which felt like I was heading to another galaxy, but was just on the other side of my school district.
In high school, I mounted my 10-speed and rode across the city. I came up with small challenges to see if I could complete them. Could I ride to my Grandma’s house in Sylvania? Could I get to Best Buy to purchase a new CD? I would study the map, an old-fashioned paper map, to calculate the best route and hope to not get lost. Remember when GPS wasn’t an option?
In college, I spent hours exploring the backroads of Athens, Ohio near Ohio University where I was a student. One of my regular excursions was to ride my bike to Strouds Run State Park and go for a swim. Afterwards, I would let the wind dry me off on my ride back home.
Now, at age 39, those same types of adventures still appeal to me. I love exploring the world around me and stopping to smell the roses when I see something interesting.
When I left my house at 6am on Saturday I didn’t have an agenda in mind. I just knew that I wanted to ride for a few hours and I was hoping to get a good workout in. The beautiful thing about leaving that early in the morning is that the traffic is rather light and roads that normally feel a little too hairy to ride on become much more relaxing. I headed south down State Route 315 to head into the city.
The weather was perfect when I left. The sun was rising and temperatures hovered in the 70s. The birds were chirping cheerfully and the crisp morning air was calm. I was inspired.
I reached the Olentangy bike path and started exploring a few branches that I hadn’t been on in years. Columbus is in a bit of a cycling boom, so there are always new paths under construction and I was searching to see if I could find any. I decided to head downtown to check out a bike route that I had never been on – the Hilltop Scioto Connector.
It was fun riding past many of Columbus’s landmarks on the way to my destination. As I passed the small lake at Antrim Park, I was inspired to document the occasion with a photo.
The great thing about riding your bike is that it helps you connect with your community. You travel fast enough to get around, but it’s easy to stop and smell the roses. You end up seeing interesting things that you might drive right past in a car. Other notable items are hidden away from the main highway and can only be seen via foot or two wheels.
I meandered past the campus for Ohio State University and headed along a newly-constructed bike path to Grandview Heights. I rode up Grandview Avenue to see the aftermath from the bike race the night before. The Tour de Grandview is a criterium that races through the city streets. roll:, the bike shop that sponsors the Combo Race Team, held a really cool party along the race course. This was a great event and highly recommend that you come down and watch the race next year. Watching the bikes fly by was very exciting.
After Grandview, I made my way to the connector route I wanted to find. I cycled through the Hilltop neighborhood, which I had never been to before, and rode on to more Columbus landmarks downtown. I passed by COSI, the splash pad along the river, the Ohio Statehouse, and through downtown to the arena district.
There was a bustling farmer’s market outside of North Market and I paused to check out the local produce and appreciate this weekly ritual. There are several great farmer’s markets in the Columbus area and I’m going to have to try and make it out to them more often. I love the fresh local food!
Next up was Comfest. This “Community Festival” has been held in Columbus since 1972 and bills itself as a “Party with a Purpose.” It was still early in the morning and the vendors were just starting to open up their shops for the day. I’ve had fun at Comfest in the past. I’m sure it has a higher cause, but whenever I tell someone I’ve been there they just ask “if I’ve seen any boobies.” I have yet to figure out the correlation between having a purpose and breast exposure, but I promise to continue to study the topic in the future.
I rode up High Street, which is the central, north-south corridor for the city. This main street runs through Downtown, the Short North, past campus and then heads north way beyond the borders of Columbus. It’s always fun to ride along High Street. It’s one of the few places where I take a lane and ride with traffic. The bustle of the cars always inspires me to ride faster as I race from stop light to stop light. At Lane Avenue I turned right and headed east to Easton.
Easton Town Center is one of the major shopping centers in Columbus and I was prepared to bask in the glow of it’s unabashed consumerism. When I arrived, I stumbled upon the Easton Art Affair, an arts festival in its 15th year. I thought that this local event might interfere with my intravenous injection of supercharged economic activity. Then I realized that this was just unabashed consumerism with an artsy twist. I did see some cool art though. I’ll have to return next year with a vehicle that can transport a painting or two.
By this point, I had logged at least 50 miles. It was time to head home. I didn’t take the fast route though. I followed the bike path north through Westerville. Several patrons were on the stoop waiting for the Westerville Bike Shop to open. I’m sure the beautiful weather turned all of the bike shops into madhouses that day.
I continued north through Genoa Township to the end of the bike path. There were so many walkers, runners and cyclists enjoying the wonderful day. I’m always glad when the bike paths are busy because I see all those happy exercisers as potential lobbyists for more bike trails, excuse me, I mean “multi-purpose” trails, throughout the city.
I traveled back home along some country roads, making my way past the mountain bike trails at Alum Creek and pushing up the hill in front of the dam.
6 hours and 76 miles later I arrived at home. It was noon and I still had the rest of the day to spend with my family. But, I already felt like I had an epic adventure under my belt. From urban streets, to bike paths, to country roads, I felt like I had experienced a lot. It was so fun that I could see myself doing it again and seeing what else I can find in the city this summer. Do you have any suggestions for more good adventures in C-Bus? What are your favorite neighborhoods to ride in?
Next weekend I’m heading to Pittsburgh and looking forward to exploring that city as well. Don’t worry, I’ll take a few pics for yins. 🙂
Buy a travel guide for Columbus, Ohio off of Amazon.com to get some more great adventure ideas!