Ever want to get away from it all and just go for a bike ride?
Like, for a week?
Let wind blow through your helmet?
Let your muscles work out all that stress?
See some of the beautiful vistas in Ohio farm country?
Ride on roads that are new to you?
Get into great cycling shape?
Meet lots of other bike-minded people?
If any of these things sound good to you, you might want to consider a multiday bike ride.
A ride, say, like the Great Ohio Bicycling Adventure, which just ended Saturday.
The adventure – or GOBA, as everybody calls it – is a seven-day ride in a different area of the state every year that covers about 350 miles. You can ride more or less if you want, because there are two layover days when the camp doesn’t move and riders can do an optional loop of 50 or 100 miles, or take the day off.
For a weeklong supported ride, GOBA is a bargain. Adults cost from $230 to $260, depending on how early you sign up. Children 6 to 15 years of age are $95, and children 5 and under are free.
And there are plenty of kids on every GOBA; riding on tag-alongs, in trailers, on tandems and on their own bikes as well. Of course, there are also lots of parents and grandparents and singles and couples. Altogether, about 2,000 folks of all ages went on this year’s ride.
Except for the weather-fouled last day, this year’s edition – the 27th put on by the non-profit Columbus Outdoor Pursuits – was a real joy to ride. (More about the last day later.)
The ride started this year in Van Wert and traveled through the pool-table flat farmland of Northwestern Ohio. No hills, but flat land can mean stronger winds, and the June breezes really kicked up on a couple days.
Riders stay in tents or, for a small extra fee in gymnasiums or dormitories if they’re available. You can also do motels. All the big gear is trucked for the riders from destination to destination. And GOBAville, a collection of support vehicles, rider services, food offerings and – most critically – mobile shower trucks, move with the herd.
Along the way there are snack and lunch stops about every 15 miles – three a day – put on by local non-profit organizations as fund-raisers.
One of the great things about riding 50 miles a day is that you can eat just about anything you want. And some of us did. Some of us probably averaged six or more meals and snacks a day. Not saying who.
You see all kinds of riders and bikes out there, from fancy racing bikes to mountain bikes to cruiser comfort bikes to even folding bikes. One year, I saw a guy doing GOBA on a BMX bike. Don’t know why anyone would do that, but this guy seemed to be enjoying it.
A highly recommended upgrade for folks from the Dayton area is the SAG (support and gear) service offered by the Dayton Cycling Club. This year’s SAG service was ably run by Mark and Kay Minardi, who have run it for about 15 years.
The club rents a box truck that can handle the gear of about 100 riders. The club SAG service allows you to bring extra gear, such as a folding chair, which isn’t allowed on the GOBA semis. The club also brings sun canopies, which are set up next to the truck as a place for everyone to hang out, and furnishes cold drinks and snacks. Yes!
It also has tools and pumps and other support. The service cost is $50 for members, and $70 for non-members. But the extra $20 buys a DCC membership, so you’re not a non-member for long. You can find out more at daytoncyclingclub.org.
GOBA, and anyone else you talk to, recommends training for the ride. But there are some folks, who shall remain nameless (Sue Fanelli!) who ride a total of maybe 10 miles to get ready.
And they have a great time, too!
So you might think that 50 miles a day seems like a long ride. But it’s not a race. You have all day to finish, and there are lots of things to see – and eat! – along the way.
For 27 years, the ride has been on – rain or shine. This year, however, torrential rain, strong winds and the resulting road flooding forced the cancellation of the last day. Some of us, who had read the harrowing weather forecasts, had already decided to bail on the last day and had arranged to get rides to our cars the night before.
We were feeling pretty good about that decision on Saturday when the rain was blowing sideways, the temperatures dropped and the roads flooded.
That won’t demoralize the GOBA faithful, though. Columbus Outdoor Pursuits usually announces the route for next year around Thanksgiving. And at least a couple thousand – up to 3,000 – of us will be taking another week off next June to ride on new roads somewhere in Ohio.
Ken McCall is the database reporter for the Dayton Daily News and an avid cyclist. He is a member of Bike Miami Valley, where he serves as co-chairman of the Regional Advocacy Committee; the Dayton Cycling Club; the Ohio Bike Federation; and the League of American Bicyclists. If you have any story ideas or bike news, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (937) 225-2393.