Monday, May 19, 2014

B & O Trail with Mohican S. P. Extension

Peaceful Farm - Richland County

Spring is in full swing here in Ohio so when dawn broke cool and clear I knew I was going for a recumbent ride.  I decided to ride the B & O Trail which is my local trail and a staple in this blog.  Early on it was cool and almost fair to say cold.  I wore long tights with my jacket and even a thin helmet liner.  Spring has been a bit late here in these parts but things are finally shaping up.  Over the last couple weeks we've had a load of rain and the trees have all sprouted their greenery.  Next to the crisp days of autumn it is my favorite time for bike riding.

I've been up and down this bike trail at least a hundred times but I never stopped to read this sign posted along the trail in the small town of Bellville, Ohio.  Today I wasn't interested in racing the clock so I pulled over to check it out.

McClure Cabin

Site of the first settlement in Jefferson Township and the second in Richland County.  James, Thomas and Samuel McClure and Jonathan Oldfield cut a trail from Fredericktown in 1808, and built a log cabin here on the banks of the Clear Fork!
 That's pretty cool.  The United States was only 32 years old at that point. Ohio was indeed the wild frontier.
The log cabin is not in existence anymore but I bet the view out front of the McClure brother's cabin looked a lot like this 200 years ago:

I continued on from north to south covering all 18 miles of the trail as it warmed up and I could shed my extra layers.  When I rolled into Butler at the end of the trail it was too nice of a morning to just turn around so I decided on the fly to add a loop and tour through the Mohican State Park which lies about 7 miles to the east from Butler.

I know a route that uses seldom traveled rural roads so I can avoid the busy state highway that leads to the park.  For a short while the country lanes follow the Clear Fork valley and the steadily flowing river.  

Within a mile or two from the end of the bike trail I get to the hill country.  My recumbent bike climbs just fine and I actually like the experience pushing off the firm seat back putting 100% of my effort into the cranks.  The loop circles around to the north of the park.  The views are nice.

Eventually the Clear Fork River flows into Pleasant Hill Lake which was formed when the Army Corps of Engineers built a damn.  

The level of the lake is maintained at the damn and excess water is directed through a spillway and continues on its path through the valley.  A glimpse of the water can be seen just above my bike in the picture.  From this point on the stream is called the Black Fork.  It flows roughly east through the Mohican-Memorial State Forest for a few miles until its confluence with the Mohican River at Loudenville, Ohio.

In the above photo is the pump house and spillway.  In the background is the end of the 850 acre lake.  Continuing on the loop took me into the state park and down into the gorge along the park road.  I've rode in this area and photographed the natural beauty of the gorge from my mountain bike on the 25 mile single track circuit.  It is fantastic on a knobby tire bike.

Both the park road and the mountain bike trail meet up at this covered bridge to cross  the Black Fork.  I took a break here and ate a bag of pistachios before starting the mile long climb back up the south side of the gorge.  I exited the park on the south side and eventually caught back up with the country roads I was on leading out of butler and made my way back to the B & O Trail.

The formula of this ride is one I really like.  18 miles of flat rail trail to get warmed up before a serious 22 miles of hilly beat down followed by another 18 mile of smooth sailing back up the rail trail.

Ride Time:  4:45
Distance:  58.46 miles 
Average Speed:  12.2 mph
Max Speed:  40.6 mph


  1. Beautiful. That ride would kill me nowadays but I'd die happy. I also feel I can climb on my bent almost as well as I used to on a road bike, but I can no longer make the direct comparison, since the road bike just hurts me too much.

    1. Thanks Dave, I agree for the most part I can climb 1-3 mph faster on my road bike but on a big ride like this it's more than a fair trade off. I also use a triple crank on my road bike with a fairly small granny gear so on hills in the Mohican area I'm going at a snails pace uphill whatever bike I ride. It seems the medium grade hills that are really not steep enough to bail to the granny gear are what slows me the most on the recumbent.

      The legs are a little sore this morning a day later but over all feeling pretty good.