My experience on this year’s GOBA (Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure) tour reminded me often of how fundamental adventure is to riding a bicycle, and vice versa.
I decided to ride GOBA this year, in lieu of PALM, because I wanted to try something new; I wanted to see what it was like to participate in large event (this year drew nearly 2500 riders); and, most of all, I wanted a chance to ride with my dad, brother, uncle, and cousin, something I had not done since my freshman year of high school.
In most respects, the tour was very similar to what one finds on PALM and, I suspect, other family-friendly state tours. That’s not a criticism. In fact, I think the organizers do a pretty phenomenal job orchestrating the logistics of a such a massive event. Moreover, my favorite part about this tour were the routes, which, in my opinion, were remarkable.
Returning to my comment earlier concerning adventure, en route, we encountered wicked headwinds (15-25 mph for over fifty miles), torrential downpours, some nasty climbs, and unseasonably cool temperatures, to say nothing of digging through a semi-trailer-sized pile of bags every day in search of personal gear; standing in line to use the bathroom, to take a shower, and to eat; and exploring new territory every day.
But it’s more than that. As trite as it is to call it indescribable (not to mention a pitiful sign of weak writing), that’s precisely what it is. Though, like a secret code or an inside joke, those who genuinely love riding a bicycle know precisely what I’m talking about (or not talking about, as the case may be).
So few things compare to occupying (for lack of a better word) a designated space of time in which you have absolutely nothing to concern yourself with besides travel for its own sake, attuned to the harmonious collaboration of the muscles in your legs carrying you forward, the whir of your chain, the subtle hum of your tires against the pavement, the rhythmic clicking of the pawls in your cassette when you opt to coast, and so many other sounds of your immediate surroundings. It’s magical and sublime.
On Thursday, my little brother and I rode from London to Bellefontaine to fetch his car, because he had to leave the tour a day early to get back to Rhode Island. This was probably my favorite day, one I had been looking forward to for weeks. We had a fantastic time, and I thoroughly enjoyed celebrating the end of his first tour.
I ended the week with 380 miles on the clock. Not too shabby. Next year, some of us are already talking about checking out another state tour, like one of the Bike Wisconsin rides or Bike Virginia. Alternatively, we might end up back on PALM.
I didn’t take as many pictures as I had hoped or planned to take, but I took more than I can comment on individually. So here’s a gallery featuring the remainder of the batch (those worth looking at anyway). If you care to see even more, and to get a sense of how local communities make a pretty big deal out of GOBA pedaling through their towns, the Marion Star newspaper posted a nice collection of photographs, which you can view by clicking here.