During the planning for my 2011 attempt to ride across Pennsylvania and part of Ohio I came across a rail trail named the Western Reserve Greenway. This 43 mile trail ran from near Lake Erie in a town with the melodious name of Ashtabula to just south of the road I’d be riding to my night stop on the first day of the tour. The trail didn’t fit into my plans for that trip but I mentally noted it for a future ride.
Two years later I was back in Ohio. My host, Peter, wanted to ride the Western Reserve Greenway. I did as well. We differed on how we wanted to ride it, however. My idea was to ride the length, and then camp overnight at nearby Mosquito Lake State Park, riding back the next day. Peter wanted a day ride. After thinking about it I reached the conclusion that an overnight tour would be too much, not in terms of the number of miles, but in the time and effort to do it. So we set up a day ride for a Sunday and hoped for good weather.
We had the weather we wanted, sunny, mild but not hot, and a slight breeze. We parked near the northern end of the trail and followed it to its conclusion, a dead end at railroad tracks a mile from the lake. Turning around, we headed south on the paved path, Peter’s trike racing my touring bike. We had a slight problem at the trail closure at Interstate 90, but we dismounted and walked through the construction. By the time I post this ride report the construction might be complete and the trail reopened.
The trail has many road crossings, but it rambles through Ohio farm country, so the scenery is great. From Astabula the trail moves up a slight grade, but levels off once past Interstate 90 and continues flat aside from some road crossings and a quarter-mile on road detour at the town of Rock Creek.
Just south of the road segment is Rock Creek Trestle. This structure has an observation deck on the side with three picnic tables, and it was here we stopped for lunch. After 15 miles and the long drive from Akron I was hungry, and while my Brooks saddle is breaking in, it felt good to be seated. Peter as a trike ride brought his lounge chair with him, of course.
Once we were fueled and rested, we continued south. I needed to, ahem, unhydrate, and there was no bathroom at the trestle. We continued south past a swamp and more farm country until Peter and I found what we needed. Mission accomplished at the 18 mile mark, we turned around and headed north.
By now the sun had been covered with clouds, and the temperature was dropping. I felt like rain was on the way. As Peter and I argued over the forecast I scanned the skies. I subconsciously pushed the pace, and Peter asked me to slow down a few times.
By the time we’d made it through the construction zone at Interstate 90 the first raindrops fell. I stopped to take a couple of photos and told Peter he didn’t need to wait for me. Perhaps excited at riding a downhill, h took off. I struggled to keep up. The feared rain turned out to be a minute of a shower, and that’s it. Still, I pushed hard on the final miles.
I was tired but pleased with my efforts as I helped Peter put my bike on his rack. We’d ridden 36 miles, which was my longest ride since July 2011. My fatigue found me the next day, and I restricted myself to a short recovery ride. But while the Western Reserve Greenway ride was exhausting, it was worth doing.