Friday, July 18, 2015
OK, this was officially a day to do a loop ride from New Philadelphia. But although I don’t have a chronic back problem and have never had trouble on a tour before, all of the tough climbing must have gotten to me over the past days and on both days 4 and 5 my back was tightening up, making it a struggle to straighten up when getting off the bike or getting out of a chair. I was already popping Aleves two or three times a day, so decided to skip day 6’s additional climbing and take a day off. Then, thinking about it some more, it would be hard to just hang out around a town with not much to do, so what I decided on was to do day 7’s route back to Coshocton on day 6, then load the bike in my car and drive back to New Philadelphia. That way, I wouldn’t miss any of the evening’s activity and I could easily drive home on Saturday morning instead of having to ride and then drive later in the day. So this is a report on the route that the others did a day later.
Rod and Joe were amenable to this, especially since the last day was an easy route, made even easier by yet another detour. So on Friday morning, I started off on a solo ride to the finish. There was a bit of morning traffic in the immediate environs of New Philadelphia, but once I got a few miles out of town everything cleared up. The route couldn’t have been much simpler for the most part: take Stone Creek Road to the village of Stone Creek, then get on SR 751 for most of the way back.
I have to say that I enjoyed parts of this route as much as anything I rode on the rest of the week. For a state route, SR 751 was almost devoid of traffic and was a beautiful, winding road with gentle rollers. Being a gradual downhill, I was really flying along this stretch! It was only about 32 miles of riding for the day, so I was already planning on driving back to the New Philadelphia area to have lunch and then go to see some of the points of interest on the day’s loop ride.
BCR did manag to throw in one last challenge, as the biggest climb of the day came just a few miles from the finish. It was the better part of a mile long and not overly steep, so I was able to just keep turning the pedals until I finally cleared the top. The highway on this stretch had a passing lane going up the hill, so cars were easily able to get by me as I went up at about a 6mph pace. Once over the top, it was a fast final downhill into Coshocton and then a meandering route through side streets back to the park where my car was waiting.
About an hour later I was in Dennison having lunch at the diner in the railroad station museum. Dennison was a major rail center in the first part of the 20th century and still had the rails from its extensive yards. A model railroad setup in the museum recreated the layout of the yard and the locomotive maintenance facilities that used to be here. I also ran into several other tour members who were stopping by.
I also went by the Gnadenhutten Memorial. This was a location where a friendly, civilized band of Lenape Indians who had been converted by Moravian missionaries were massacred by Pennsylvania militiamen on suspicion of cooperating with the British during the Revolutionary War.
So it was finally time for the traditional farewell dinner, which was a catered affair in a conference center that was associated with our hotel. Everyone gathered for a nice buffet dinner and one last chance to swap lies stories about our experiences on the roads over the past six days. This was a great group of congenial people — and serious cyclists — and we all hated to see it come to an end. Afterward we posed for another group shot — in our street clothes for a change — and called it a night. We had had it all: beautiful weather, great food, nice accommodations, good support, interesting roads, and challenges enough for everyone.
The next morning I ate breakfast with the group and hung around for a while to say some goodbyes, which is always difficult to do. Then as people were setting out on the day’s ride, I drove off to head for the turnpike and home. As with last year’s Erie Shores and Islands tour, there was nothing about the way that this tour was set up and operated that I would change. I only hope that I can work another of their tours into my schedule in the near future. I would recommend Buckeye Country Roads to anyone looking for a great cycling adventure!
Totals over 6 days: 220 miles, 7600 feet of climbing (YMMV)