Information about the world of cycling, including bicycle touring

GOBA maillady
This GOBA cyclist won the costume contest
for the pre-ride parade in Delaware, Ohio.


Families came up with all kinds of creative
costumes for the GOBA welcoming parade in
Delaware, Ohio.


Cyclists complete the GOBA parade in Delaware.


T he 2002 GOBA even featured
a bicycle built for four!


Cyclists made their way through the Dawes
Arboretum near Newark, Ohio. Don't let the
perspective fool you; the grade was steep enough
to force many GOBA riders off their bikes!


Central Ohio has many beautiful county
courthouses, like the Ross County
Courthouse in Chillicothe.


Bubba Barron manages a smile as he crests
the hill leading to Catawba, Ohio.

SUMMARY: Columbus Outdoor Pursuits bills bills itself as a family-friendly ride, and that's a pretty accurate assessment for the most part. The 2002 route through central Ohio had very few hills, but families may want to assess their skills before taking on GOBA when it visits hilly southeastern Ohio. GOBA's staff does a good job of managing 3,000 cyclists; the only complaint I heard during GOBA week was that there weren't enough shower trucks to handle the ride. Be sure to bring plenty of money for meals and snacks along the way.

RIDE WEB SITE:http://www.goba.com/

GOBA: 2002

Let's get one thing clear: The organizers of the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure just about cross the line in giving too much information about the ride.

Once you're accepted on GOBA, you receive "The Way to GOBA: Your Rider Handbook," which gives you lots of helpful tips on what kind of clothing and equipment to bring on the trip. Next comes the March newsletter, which provides even more helpful tips and some description of the cities we would be visiting. Then comes the May newsletter, which had even more helpful hints and this dire warning: "We urge you to prepare for this year's GOBA by riding many hours into a headwind."

But the organizers approached overkill with the GOBA Digest, the daily guide to the GOBA 2002 route in central Ohio. I'm glad we got to learn more of the history of the region, but I'm not sure how useful this information was:

On Loudon Rd. you pass under high tension power lines as you do a number of times this week. In order to get electricity to homes and businesses in Columbus, they must receive electricity from a power plant. A power plant produces a certain amount of electricity that is then transported by high-tension power lines to substations near residential areas. In order for the electricity to reach the substation economically, it is put through a transformer that increases the voltage to between 600 and 800 kilovolts. These voltages make it more efficient to transport electricity over long distances without significant loss of energy.

Since we pass under a number of power lines feeding into Columbus this week, I thought that it might be kind of fun to compare a major metropolitan area to our own bodies. This is especially true this week because we are so active and so aware of our bodily functions....

Too much information. Way too much information.

While I appreciated all the information I received about preparing for the trip and the highlights of central Ohio, the main reason I decided to do GOBA was to renew some friendships and to renew my commitment to cycling. I was very unhappy about my performance in the 2001 DALMAC, so I made a commitment to get into shape in 2002 by doing one relatively simple ride like GOBA and a tougher ride like Cycle North Carolina.

I was pleased to find out two good cycling friends from the St. Louis area, Bubba Barron and Tom Burns, would be along on this trip. I had not been on a cycling trip with them since the 1997 West Shoreline Tour, and we survived the grueling Grand Canyon to Mexico ride in 1996. With those two guys along, I knew the ride would be lots of fun.

I also knew this was going to be a fun ride when we lined up for the parade. People were urged to come up with costume for the short parade in Delaware, the start and finish point of the loop trip. Some families really went out of their way with pink flamingo, chicken and bumblebee outfits. The winning costume was a woman dressed as a postal carrier being chased by a dog — a common occurrence for postal carriers and cyclists!

The best I could do was wear my Kurt Warner St. Louis Rams home jersey. Some costume, but it would do me some good later in the week.

I saw Tom on Saturday, but he said Bubba got lost driving through Indianapolis and would arrive late. By the time we left the Delaware County Fairgrounds — the home of the Little Brown Jug harness racing classic — on Sunday, I still had not seen Bubba. So I and 2,999 of my closest cycling friends took off on an absolutely perfect day with a nice tailwind toward Newark.

By Sunday evening, I still had not seen Bubba, so I decided to relax at the bluegrass and big band concert. On the way back to the tent, I suddenly heard a familiar cry.

"Hey Roger, what are you pushing?"

Since it was Bubba, there was only one right answer: "My big, fat ass." (See the Grand Canyon to Mexico account for the story behind that greeting.) Bubba gave me a big bear hug, and he proceeded to fill me in on the details of his new business, Bubba's Pampered Pedalers.

Monday's ride proceeded through the scenic Dawes Arboretum near Newark and over a couple of tricky hills. Then we took on some of the headwinds the GOBA organizers told us about. I met up with Bubba at the Millersport lunch stop, and then I didn't see him again until the mobile smoothie stand about seven miles from our destination, Lancaster. For $10, you could get five smoothies over the course of the week. On those hot days, those strawberry-banana smoothies sure went down good! Once in Lancaster, Bubba and I were hitting just about every red light, so when we saw a green light near downtown, we gunned it. Unfortunately, we missed the arrow telling us to turn to the fairgrounds. At least we found our way there!

Lancaster would be the next to last time I would see Tom this trip. He already had found a camp site for the night, and I was trying to find one.

"Why don't you go to that one across the road? It looks good to me!"

He was right. Unfortunately on a ride with 3,000, it's easy to get separated from people and not see them for days. That's what happened with Tom, and that's too bad.

Tuesday's trek from Lancaster to Chillicothe had a couple of climbs early in the trip and one stinker near the end. Between those climbs came the one surprise renewal of the week. As I got in line for GORP, fruit and a sports drink at the Amanda snack stop. I saw someone who looked vaguely familiar, so I decided to ask some questions.

"Are you from Cincinnati?"

"Yes."

"Are you Carrie?"

"Yes."

"Remember me? I'm Roger!"

Carrie Lohman didn't remember me at first, but as soon as I mentioned that we rode in the Cycle Across Missouri Parks ride in 1993 and in Hilly Hundred in 1994, some bells started to click.

"How did you recognize me? It was so many years ago," Carrie said.

"You aged well!" I said with a touch of diplomacy and a lot of sincerity. Because Carrie's in such great shape, she looks younger than her age!

I saw Carrie one more time, at the Thursday lunch stop in Williamsport. We hugged, talked and took off. She took off much faster than I did, and I didn't see her again that trip.

Most people — myself included — didn't ride on the Wednesday layover day in Chillicothe, Ohio's first state capital. I chose to visit the Hopewell Culture National Historic Park, a collection of Indian mounds near the Scioto River. I was fascinated with the mounds because I live near Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site near Collinsville, Ill. I shared some information about the mounds with our guide, Amanda, who also guided cyclists onto Tri-County Triangle Trail on Thursday, when we rode to London.

Later Wednesday, two of the cyclists had a conversation about the mounds.

"Did you go out to the mounds?"

"Yep."

"Did I miss much?"

"No, just a lot of grass."

It really is a shame when people are too lazy to look beyond the surface when it comes to historic sites. No wonder so many mounds have been destroyed in the name of "progress."

The delightful weather that opened the ride turned hot and humid for the end of the ride. Several people suffered dehydration between Chillicothe and London, the longest ride of the week at 71 miles. But Bubba and I, along with a couple of his friends, Margit and Jesse, ate in the air-conditioned comfort of London's senior citizens center and dined on what Margit called "the best pork chops I've had in years." They were good, but they turned out to be only the second-best chops I had on this trip.

Similar conditions met us Friday between London and Marysville, but a tailwind from the west made the last part of that ride more bearable.

On Friday night, I decided to meet up with a high school friend, Melissa Stuckey Clendenin, who lives in Sidney. I had not seen her in 13 years, so I thought it would be great to go to dinner with Melissa and her husband, Harry. I was worried she wouldn't recognize me, but that's where the Kurt Warner jersey came to the rescue. I told her I would be wearing that jersey, and she had no trouble finding me. We went to to Plain City to dine at the Der Dutchman Restaurant and drove into downtown Columbus to see the sights. It took a while, but we figured out where the state capitol was. It was good to talk about the some of the people who attended Southwestern High School in Piasa, Ill., all too many years ago. She was the editor-in-chief of the 1979 yearbook, and I was the photo editor. Lots of great memories!

The final day was a 41-mile trip from Marysville to Delaware. Despite the heat and humidity, I felt strong, and a tailwind from the west didn't hurt. As I passed a couple of cyclists up a short grade between Magnetic Springs and Delaware, I heard one of the men say, "That guy's had too much water to drink!"

The other part of the reason I was strong because I wanted to get on the road to visit my friends Marie Calabrese and her husband, Don, in Cleveland. Marie and I shared several wonderful bike rides while she was living in southern Illinois. What stands out about her is her positive attitude. Instead of grumbling about the headwinds, she shared a little prayer: "Thank you, Lord, for the breeze that cools our faces!" In time, I amended that prayer: "Thank you, Lord for the breeze that cools our faces and builds our thighs and calves!"

The only think I asked of my visit to Cleveland was that I didn't have to climb on my bike. Don grilled several huge pork chops to perfection — the best way to end this trip! Friends and my cycling skills had been renewed!

Postscript:

During the week of GOBA, tragedy struck my favorite major-league baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals. On Tuesday, June 18, longtime Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck died. Besides being the voice of the Cardinals for nearly 50 years, Jack called everything from the World Series and the Super Bowl to pro bowling for ABC, NBC and CBS. I found out about it while reading the Chillicothe Gazette the next morning.

While taking a tour of the artwork at Progressive Insurance's headquarters in Cleveland with Don and Marie Calabrese on June 22, the television was on in Don's office. All of the sudden, I saw Cardinals General Manager Walt Jocketty talking on CNN. At first, I figured he was talking about Jack Buck, but then I saw the news in the caption below: Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile found dead in Chicago motel room. The three of us were stunned how someone so young could die so suddenly.

To the Cardinals' credit, they didn't fall apart and won the 2002 National League Central Division championship. This team truly had a lot of character, and I hope we can all gain something from their example.

Tribute to Jack Buck
Tribute to Darryl Kile