Among other things, Columbus is the home of the granddaddy of group bicycle rides known as 'double centuries.' These are (usually) weekend rides of 100 miles on Saturday and 100 miles back to the starting point on Sunday. Group size ranges from several hundred to several thousand.
The Scioto River passes through Columbus on its way to Portsmouth where it joins the Ohio River 100 miles to the south. Some 40 years ago, a father took his son on a bicycle ride from Columbus to Portsmouth and back, choosing the route along the river because it was relatively flat. TOSRV, Tour Of the Scioto River Valley, has been an annual event ever since. After a little oscillation the first five years, the date finally settled in on Mother's Day weekend. Since the mid '70s, the number of riders has been typically around three or four thousand.
For serious riders, this ride seemed a little too easy. In fact some were so serious that they rode from Columbus to Portsmouth for lunch and back to Columbus the same day. For these folks, Columbus ride organizers developed a more challenging route through the hills of southeastern Ohio. It was scheduled for the first weekend in October to take advantage of the physical conditioning from a summer full of riding. For many years it went 100+ miles over the most and steepest hills the organizers could find between Columbus and Athens. This year it went from Lancaster (32 miles SE of Columbus) to
Marietta, where the Muskingum River flows into the Ohio.
This ride has been on my list since around 1980, but in spite of my years in Columbus I never participated. This year, my second day in China, when I met the Brits on the tricycle recumbent tandem on the way up my first serious mountain, I remarked to them that this would be the year to do that ride. After crossing China with all its hills, I would surely be in shape. But, I lamented, I would not be back in time because I was planning to spend a month in Japan
when I finally got there.
However, with the help of a cycling friend in Columbus, I got a map of this year's route. So, to take advantage of my summer's conditioning. Ruth and I went to Ohio just over a week ago so I could have a go at this ride, aptly named the Columbus Fall Challenge. The first day we woke up to a relatively mild but steady rain and I waited over two hours past sunrise to see if it would let up. It didn't so I started anyway. It finally let up in time for lunch at the first
rest stop a quarter of the way to Marietta. After lunch, with Ruth leading the way in her new car, I headed for the official lunch stop. But when it started raining again I called it quits, saying to myself that I was there to see what this ride was like, not necessarily to experience all the discomfort that went with actually finishing it. I put the bike on the car and we drove the last 50 miles to Marietta.
On Sunday morning we overslept (I didn't set the hotel alarm clock properly) and so got another late start. Again lunch at the first rest stop, and then on to the official lunch stop where I could see that I was not going to finish before dark. I put the bike back on the car and we headed for my son's home about 40 miles northeast of Ohio for supper and some quality time with two grandchildren before heading back to Saginaw that evening.
So, now that I have been East To Kyushu, and at least experienced the CFC, I am ready to hang my bicycle up for the winter, and maybe not even take it down next spring. Maybe the bug will get to me again, but I don't feel it yet. Perhaps when grandchildren get old enough to need a riding partner I will get serious again.
For now Ruth and I are looking forward to a relatively quiet winter visiting grandchildren, attending my daughter Judy's wedding at the end of December, and generally getting to know each other better.
And for those who are interested, there are photos
available on the Internet. Start by going to: