Sunday, April 12, 2015

Laid Back On The Olentangy Trail

This year for my first recumbent ride of the season I wanted to go big and also add a new bike way to my list of trails ridden.  This weekend the weather was perfect so I loaded up the HP Velotechnik and headed south to Franklin County in central Ohio.

I used that popular online map to determine how exactly to get to the northernmost trail head and also to study the route I would be riding south once the car was parked.

The trail follows its namesake the Olentangy River 13 miles to its confluence with the Scioto River in downtown Columbus.  I chose this trail because the Olentangy originates in Crawford County where I am from although it is little more than a ditch at its start.  From Crawford County the Olentangy meanders 97 miles in length and has long been a resource to those inhabiting its banks.

The river was first called Keenhongsheconsepung (Heck with three times -just try to say that once!) by the Delaware peoples who lived in the region.  The word translates to "stone for your knife stream" after the shale exposed along the banks of the creek.  White settlers who moved into the area changed the name of the water to the Whetstone.

The past week of rain and storms has the river running high and muddy.  It's early spring yet and things look pretty brown and dead but the sun is warm and things will start turning green soon.  The grass on this golf course I spotted across the river has got a good start.

The trail switches banks occasionally.  Here's a shot taken on the east bank as I continued south. 

 I like riding in the early season because with out leaves on the trees it's much easier to see things along way.  Alternatively later during the hot dog days of summer the leaves create welcome shade.  For now though exploring a new trail I like the openness.

More evidence of recent rains

Soon into my ride I started finding examples of Columbus' excellent infrastructure catering to park users.  Bridges are a great combination of art and architecture and they always make for interesting compositions in my camera eye.

As I continued on the area along the banks became more urban.  And more bridgey. 

Lane Avenue Bridge

The Olentangy Trail cuts right through the Ohio State University campus.

The Horseshoe

Back on the west bank I came across the first railroad bridge of the ride complete with some vintage antique telegraph insulators.

While the telegraph system those old insulators belonged to was long since retired the bridge was still very much in use. 

At midday I arrived at the confluence of the Olentangy and Scioto not far from downtown.  At this point the Olentangy trail links up with the Scioto Trail.  I rode to the western end of this trail away from town first.  

The Scioto is one of Ohio's longest rivers stretching just over 230 miles across the state until draining into the Ohio River at Portsmouth.

After a couple miles I reached the end of the trail and headed back east towards the city.

Another railroad bridge offers a unique vantage point to the downtown cityscape.

In recent years the Ohio EPA and the city of Columbus have been making improvements to the river front area.  The removal of a damn reduced the width of the river and freed up land along the banks to create parks and green space.

The big white building in the center of the frame above is the Ohio Supreme Court House.  From this spot I took a picture of the ongoing construction.

A big section of the bike trail is closed because of the work and detoured a few blocks through the city.  The detour was well marked and even protected with cement barriers from automotive traffic.  I felt very safe.

I am not a fan of driving in the city.  I'd much rather get around by bike.  As I was pedaling along the detour route I spotted this rack of bike share bikes and stopped for a closer look.  I did see quite a few people out and about on the rental bikes. 

South of the city center the Scioto trails heads along the bank of the river for a few miles before abruptly terminating.  I wheeled around and headed back towards town to find a place to take a break.

On the West Main St. bridge I found a nice spot with a sun warmed bench to sit and eat my snack.

Note the public binoculars on the rail above my bike.  Free! no quarter needed and yes I did have a look.

West Main St. Bridge

This is how bridges should be designed.  The pedestrian and bike deck is just as big as the automobile side. 

I took my time on the trip down stopping often to take pictures and look around.  As the shadows lengthened and I headed back north I settled into a faster pace and used up the rest of my energy.  I like to ride harder on the second half of my rides and this works out well when exploring a new trail.  

It doesn't look like it in my pictures but there was lots of people out enjoying the day. I saw all kinds of bikers, joggers, dog walkers along the trail in the forty miles I covered. Parks and fields along the way were filled with sports teams playing games like lacrosse and softball.

One thing I really liked about the Olentangy Trail is that the designers kept the trail always winding and turning.  It made the ride a bit more fun than the arrow straight runs found on many rail trails that can get tedious.

I couldn't think of a better way to spend the day than laying around on my recumbent bike.  

1 comment:

  1. RCT you hit that trail at the right time of year. In another couple weeks the section from campus - north is almost unrideable on weekends and week nights because of foot traffic. That's not a complaint. It's great that folks are using the trail, but a pace quicker than a jogger pushing a stroller is almost impossible. It's still a great ride if you time it right. Dave in Columbus