There's a thin strip of mostly-paved amazingness that runs from Cincinnati to Columbus and on to Cleveland.
And it's not Interstate 71.
It's the Ohio to Erie Trail, and while technically it's a multi-use path and walkers, runners, roller bladers and even cross-country skiers (but only in the winter) are welcome, we all know it's really a bike trail.
And it is 329.7 miles long.
There’s a thin strip of mostly-paved amazingness that runs from Cincinnati to Columbus and on to Cleveland.
And it’s not Interstate 71.
It’s the Ohio to Erie Trail, and while technically it’s a multi-use path and walkers, runners, roller bladers and even cross-country skiers (but only in the winter) are welcome, we all know it’s really a bike trail.
And it is 329.7 miles long.
I had the chance to ride a 30-mile chunk of it this weekend with the guy who probably knows as much about the O to E as anyone: Jerry Rempelt, executive director of the O to E Trail Fund. They’re the non-profit group that promotes the trail and are helping local communities acquire and pave the last few miles needed to complete it.
“It was started in 1991 and is 85-percent paved,” Jerry said, adding it will be totally complete in another couple of years. One of the biggest missing pieces of the puzzle is here in Columbus, but they’re working on it. In the meantime hundreds of people ride from one end of the O to E to the other every year and thousands more ride sections, such as the popular and nearby London to Xenia portion.
I’ve now officially become a bit obsessed with the O to E and have added riding from one end to the other to my biking bucket list. Maybe even this year.
But that’s another story. This story is about my recent ride with Jerry, and a few friends from the Team Dispatch racing team: Don, Kurt and Karl. We met in the village of Centerburg, which claims to be the geographic center of the state. It must be or they wouldn’t be allowed to call themselves Centerburg, would they?
We started off from a parking lot next to the giant grain mills.
We headed north on the Heart of Ohio Trail and were quickly in the midst of the most rural of rural Ohio, long flat stretches of farmland. After only a couple hundred yards, there were llamas on the right.
The O to E follows old rail lines, which means it’s very flat.
“Trains couldn’t go up more than a 2-percent grade,” Jerry explained.
While the tracks are long gone, there are still plenty of cool, sturdy old steel bridges to ride across. There’s a short stretch of “tourist” track in Gambier, complete with an engine and some railroad cars, where you’re legally required to stop and take a photo.
Even more importantly, there’s a bathroom in Gambier, right on the path. Those O to E people think of everything.
We rode past Gambier and on to Mount Vernon, where the trail ends for a bit. You ride through Mount Vernon Nazarene University and then pick up the Kokosing Gap Trail.
We rode it to the end, about 14 miles, turned around and headed back to Gambier where we headed up the big hill – the only hill of the day – into the really cool campus of Kenyon College and had lunch at the Village Inn.
I highly recommend the tater tots.
Then it was back down to the path and back to Centerberg, a scenic 60 miles through the heart of Ohio.
Thanks Jerry. I’ll be back.