Who’d-a-thunk tractor-trailers had a role in a bicycle touring event? Anybody who’s done a lot of self-powered two-wheeling would know, especially if long distances are involved. After all, how does your luggage get from Point A to Point B, and all the points beyond? By truck. And if 1,200 riders are participating, it takes two semis to carry all the bags.
That’s how it was on the recent Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure, June 16-23 out of Delaware, Ohio. The first weekend, mobs of cyclists showed up at the county fairgrounds, across the street from my house. They unloaded their cycles from racks on cars, then set up tents for camping. The weather was unseasonably hot and humid, and included heavy rains. Some stayed in nearby motels, and I’m guessing they were the older, wiser ones.
One thing about avid bicyclists is that they’re hardy. Mostly in their 30s and older, everyone is in shape, which is how a man or woman needs to be to pedal 50 miles or more a day. This tour went through towns outside of Columbus, taking in the scenery and sampling each town’s attractions. Starting in Delaware, they rode to London, Circleville, Lancaster, Newark and back to Delaware – seven days and about 400 miles of riding in all, with one side trip and two nights spent in two places.
That requires a lot of clothes, so each participant had a large, heavy bag. Twelve hundred riders add up to about that many bags, and these were carried in two van trailers provided by an Atlas Van Lines agent in Sandusky, up north. Every morning riders carried or dragged their bags to the semis and every evening the drivers unloaded them for retrieval by the riders.
The rigs looked about 25 years old. Tractors were ‘90s Internationals, one a cabover. I couldn’t find name plates on the trailers, or annual inspection stickers, for that matter. One had limped in with a blown tire, an outer dual that was plainly visible. The driver was strapping the mudguard away from the shredded tire, using the ICC bumper as an anchor point.
“You gonna pull it off and go home on one wheel there?” I asked the other driver, who was helping.
“We’re gonna go home this way,” he said.
“You’re not worried about throwing pieces of rubbler on the road behind you?”
“It’s thrown about all the rubber it’s going to,” he said.
They were intent on securing the mud flap, seemed tired from unloading the bags, and it was already hot and getting hotter, so I left them alone. They soon left. I wonder if this guy got pulled over on the way home.
Cyclists streamed into the fairgrounds much of the day, many of them pausing to pose for pictures in front of a banner at the main entrance. Pictures would add to their satisfaction from covering the trek. They’re stronger people than I.