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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Akron to Cleveland, Ohio; Why Dogs but not Horses?

10/12/12 231# 48M

Today brought an interesting opportunistic adventure. Committments and logistics would cause me to be west of Akron Ohio at about 3pm today and leave me with an open schedule until 9pm and what does any bicyclist do in that situation? I checked Google maps and I saw that there's a tremendous trail corridor the Ohio and Erie Canalway trail that runs from Cleveland to Akron and beyond to New Philadelphia.

My secondary task, my diversion during empty hours, now seemed as attractive as the primary task. It's a well developed trail, it has rivers and canal locks and trailheads and towns, and possibly best of all - it has a train.

The Cayahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (CVSR) operates over the northern 51 miles of the Ohio & Erie Canalway. Normal fare for the trip? $17. Fare with a bicycle? $2. You can start in Cleveland, ride the train south for a deuce, get off and ride back to your car; amazing.

My 3pm task complete, I started riding crosstown to intercept the trail. There are some rich people in Ohio judging by the real estate. I saw a black squirrel which I've read about but not seen. They seem to call small waterways Runs here just like in PA.

This trail is wonderful, a combination of the best of several trails. The surface is like the best sections of the Montour trail or the GAP. In one brief section where the trail is a boardwalk it's very reminiscent of the Mount Vernon trail although much calmer. In a paved section around MP29 there's a bit of yank-and-bank that's reminiscent of the Peters Township trail.

The people on this trail are much more "normal" than "bikey"; very few helmets, very little bike-specific clothing, but a lot of sweaters, jeans, and sneakers. Very good trail etiquette.

The maps available at the ranger stations (it's a national park) are very good. One I liked in particular is a sort of ribbon-map; it's two inches wide by two feet long, perfect for rolling under the hem of your shorts or into a pocket. It doesn't show much of the communities at all, just the trail, trailheads, and crossroads. I thought it was an interesting, novel, and very useful bit of wayfinding.

There's one area called the Peninsula that's a mini-Ohiopyle. I rode north until I penetrated the Cleveland MetroParks segment at Thornburg Station and figured that counted as broaching Cleveland. I was mildly eager to turn around because most of my return leg would be after sunset.

The return trip was also great. There were a few birdwatchers, bicylists and walkers still out at sundown. Quite a few deer.

Several sections of the trail are open to equestrians, and their scatalogical remains left me wondering: why do we insist that civilized dog-owners clean up after their pets, yet we find it normal for horse-users to not clean up after their animals? Don't all the dog-owner arguments apply to the horse-owners? Isn't it ludicrous for the owner of a tiny dog to be cleaning up after Bitsy's tiny mini-poop while the owner of Black Beauty leaves large droppings in their wake?

Or, is it okay for just a few people to leave horse droppings behind them, but it wouldn't be okay if everybody did it? Isn't that an elitist, 1% sort of a position? Doesn't that fail the Kantian categorical-imperative test?

The last 90 minutes of the trip were dark and there's no illumination or reflectors along the trail. The last hour of the ride was in a pretty steady rain but it was a great ride, firmly in the Type 1 Fun category. I was glad that I'd covered most of the route on the original segment in daylight.

Really a tremendous trail. I'm going to go back and try to do a greater length in a day trip in conjunction with using the train. 48 miles.

   Oct 13, 2012 Week 41 this week:
203 miles
4th Qtr 357 miles 27.4 mi/day4qtd
2012: 5668 miles

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