The ceremonial tire dip in the Ohio River in Cincinnati seemed a little precarious; we were afraid we might fall in. So, Chris came up with a clever idea of using a cup of Ohio River water poured over the rear tire. On the Lake Erie end of the trail, the front tire dip was easy peasy.
By the way, since the Cincinnati Airport is actually in Kentucky, we got to ride in both Kentucky and Ohio on this tour. We began our ride at the airport and rode along the river to downtown Cincinnati, where we caught the Ohio to Erie Trail.
From Akron to Cleveland much of the trail follows old tow paths and the surface is crushed limestone.
The trail is well marked and easy to follow. It is mostly paved, but with lots of crushed limestone in the last sections. Mostly it is out in quiet, secluded, peaceful countryside. Not only did we learn lots, but we relaxed for hours, just pedaling along this blissful trail.
Before and during the tour there were tons of educational sites related to the Underground Railroad and other history of the area. This was one of our most educational tours ever.
There are frequent points of interest and rest stops, often with restroom facilities.
The Amish are really into bicycles, including e-bikes. Our traveling partners had a mechanical issue and the guys at Hiland Cycles in Millersburg fixed them right up. Bike shops were numerous and easily accessible all along the trail.
You safely ride right into downtown Cleveland on a well marked, paved trail, complete with educational stops telling about the history of the city. Cleveland is very bicycle friendly.
In Amish areas we often shared the trail with buggies.
Albania: For a variety of reasons we returned to do tandem touring in Albania this late summer/fall. Mostly we wanted to return since when we toured there 5 years ago I suffered a back injury that deprived me of the enjoyment of much of the tour at that time - pain fogged my experience.
So, we returned this year, again riding with Tour AL, but also this time going to the northern part of the country, to the Albanian Alps (the Accursed Mountains) for some hiking prior to the cycling.
For this tour we used Bella, our Co-Motion Carrera Rohloff Co-Pilot we had converted to 650b wheels with 42 mm Rene Herse tires. This turned out to be an excellent choice, as one of the major changes we noticed in the 5 years since we were last in Albania was the significant degradation of the quality of the roads. The 42 mm Rene Herse tires were just the ticket for a comfortable and trouble-free tour.
As before, our tour began with sightseeing in Tirana, the capital of Albania, followed by 9 days of cycling around the southern half of the country.
In addition to the change in quality of the roads (lots worse), we also noticed quite a lot of development, and a marked increase in traffic on the highways. In fact, we estimate that in some areas the traffic increase has been 10 or 20 fold, and includes lots of trucks and vehicles going very fast. Even though Albanian drivers are almost all very careful with cyclists, it was nonetheless unnerving to be around heavier and faster traffic.
Another significant challenge for us on this tour was the heat. I am uncertain if there is any relation to climate change (I suspect there is), but in any event it was very hot - hotter than we have experienced in Europe in summer previously. Combined with the very mountainous riding, the heat sapped our strength considerably.
And to add a final insult, both of us contracted COVID while on this tour. We isolated completely but continued riding. You can believe me when I say that mountain cycling in 90's and 100's heat, with COVID, is an experience for which once is definitely enough!
But as with all our tours, we learned much, met new and interesting people, marveled at the changes in Albania, marveled at the differences in our cultures, and enjoyed the time together, especially getting through the challenges together.
And finally, circumstances allowed us to part with Bella and to send her to a new life. We donated her to a small shop in Tirana. We hope she finds a useful and productive new life, either as a sale or as a new part of the shop's programs. We loved her and wish her well in her new life.
Days riding: 9
Miles ridden: 340.0
Elevation gained: 24,415'
I encourage you to take a look at this Relive video I put together of the rides in Albania, to give you a good idea of what cycling there is like. I also encourage you to consider cycling in Albania. Feel free to email me with any questions.
This was a fully self-contained and self-supported tour. We rode our Co-Motion Speedster Rohloff with gear in panniers. One other couple toured with us, riding their Santana tandem and towing a Bob trailer. Here we are, departing the Cincinnati Airport where our faithful van waited for us in the parking lot of the Marriott Residence Inn. The Residence Inn charged us $35 to park in their lot for the entire tour!
Before going any further, I just want to give a shout out to Co-Motion and their Speedster. What an excellent design for all purpose riding, including loaded touring; the bike handles like a dream. And the fully belted Rohloff drivetrain is perfect for a tour like this.
Our demo ride at the rally was this gorgeous Co-Motion Carrera Rohloff. We've made some tweaks to the drivetrain (650b wheels; smaller chainring), resulting in a low gear of 18"!!
That's right - Draftmaster racks can't be beat. Email me for pricing!
After leaving Cleveland to ride to Oberlin and Sandusky along Lake Erie, the ride was on a mix of trails and quiet country roads, again, well marked.
Here we are in Cincinnati at the start of the Ohio to Erie Trail about to cross the Ohio River on the Purple People Bridge, a dedicated pedestrian/bicycle bridge.
This was an amazing tour and we are so glad we rode it. Our experience in Ohio further emphasizes what we've been saying - there is much to see and learn right here in our own country. COVID helped to open our eyes to this revelation. We encourage you to consider a tour in Ohio. Let us know if we can offer additional information or help in planning.
Here is a slide show of memories from the tour.
Days ridden: 9 days
Miles ridden: 415.1
Elevation gained: 9971'
This was a pretty flat tour, as you can see from the numbers above. On the day from Millersburg to Massillon we deviated from the trail onto roads in order to see some Amish sites (we do not recommend doing this, by the way). We encountered significant hills that day and accumulated 3000' of elevation that day alone. Had we stuck to the trail from Millersburg to Massillon (which we recommend doing), our elevation total would have been much less!
Small towns are encountered often, so it's easy to get food, lodging, and support.
This is the bike shop in Tirana that is Bella's new home.
Our last day was a short ride from Oberlin to Sandusky on a mix of trails and country roads, some along the lake shore. I think this was one of our most pleasant days on a tandem ever.
California Redwoods: We took a driving trip along the Washington, Oregon, and Northern California coast and discovered a cycling gem...The Newton Drury Scenic Drive in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and Redwoods National Park is closed to motor vehicles the first Saturday of every month. As you can see from the photos, the first Saturday of February was nice and sunny, though a bit cool. It was spectacular to ride the 20 mile out and back road through the mature groves of these majestic giants, with no traffic! We can highly recommend this if you find yourselves in Northern California with your tandem.
This doesn't count as a multi-day tour, but we wanted to post a few photos anyway, since it's so gorgeous.
Enjoying the view at the crossing of the McKenzie River near the rally venue. Photographic credit: our good friend Charlie Buchalter, owner of Atoc/Draftmaster. Thanks Charlie!
A monument honoring John Glenn, near Akron.
Here's another shot of the loaded tandem, at the entrance of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park on our day riding from Akron into Cleveland.
Ohio To Erie Trail and the Underground Railroad: Encompassing nearly a month in all, we visited several Underground Railroad historic sites in Indiana and Ohio, and rode the Ohio to Erie Trail from Cincinnati to Cleveland. After Cleveland a couple of additional touring days led us to Sandusky, Ohio, where this tour ended. What do we have to say about Ohio as a tandem touring destination: Wow! Just do it! You will be glad you did.
Northwest Tandem Rally: The rally was held over the July 4th Holiday in Eugene, Oregon. The rides were good, we reconnected with lots of folks, and we had 2 very busy days in our booth at the vendor expo. A great big thank you to everyone who stopped by to chat!
Days riding: 2
Miles ridden: 75.6
Riding out of Columbus on a rainy day.