Posts Tagged ‘Wabash Cannonball Trail’

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Wabash Cannonball Trail (CR17 to SR-20A)

October 30, 2008

Tonight I parked next to the trail at CR17 just on the west side of Wauseon and headed west on the Wabash Cannonball Trail.  At CR 19, the trail is blocked by a trucking company that has spread across the old railbed and fenced in the property.  I headed west about a 1/2 mile and saw a semblance of a dirt path going down the side of a field.  Taking a chance, this path quickly connected to the Trail again.

This section of the trail was heavily wooded and one of the nicer sections since most of the trail borders open fields.  Once the trail got to CR21, it was in open field again, and had lots of loose rip-rap, not quite as bad as last night, but still taking more energy than the hardpack overgrown cinder.  When the trail ended at SR-20A (not far from CR22), there was no sign of it across the road.  Instead, a farmer had plowed it under.  It looks like I would have to take SR-20A west to CR22 north and re-acquire the trail.  From here I was a bit over a mile from the farthest point east I’d taken the trail when I had ridden it from West Unity to the Turnpike entrance earlier in the summer.

From here I turned around, but wasn’t keen on going back through the loose stone, so I turned my bike lights on and headed east on SR-20A until I reached CR21.  Dropping back down on the trail, I took this prettier section back until it dead ended at the Trucking Company at CR-F. I thought I was consuming enough energy gel, but felt like I was bonking, so I took the road back to the vehicle, taking CR-F east to CR17.  Here, I dropped down CR17 back to my vehicle.

Using this bike without clipless pedals is murder on the quads and leads to grossly inefficient pedaling mechanics, so I’ve considered getting a mountain bike style shoe, but I sure like the warmth of my hiking boots on the ankles.    I’ll have to weigh the options and see what I come up with.

Definitely a good workout though!

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Wabash Cannonball Trail (Rotary Park west to CR17)

October 29, 2008

Finally a day without cold rain… in fact, with the temp hovering between 32-40F the last two rainy days, today was a heat wave by comparison with a dry 48F…. LOL!

Cannondale Hardtail F5

Prepping for the ride on the Cannondale Hardtail F5

I grabbed the Mountain Bike and headed from the hotel down to Rotary Park in Wauseon, OH.  I knew the trail was paved in town, but wasn’t sure where the pavement ended at the west edge of town, so I head out for some riding.

Endless trail of loose stone

After almost a mile on the pavement, the trail abrubtly ended, and a walking path meandered up to the old rail bed.  However, instead of the hardpack cinders I was expecting, I found loosing and shifting rip rap instead.  This stuff was a serious pain in the ass to ride in, keeping me in low range in 1st, 2nd, and rarely 3rd gear.  After a 1/2 mile of this and dodging groundhog holes, I had to stop and loosen up some layers because I was getting pretty hot.

Loose Shifting Rip Rap and a deep groundhog hole

For some reason I kept plowing ahead hoping it would get easier and thinking that this trail system was in desperate need of a champion.  When I reached CR16, there was a sign laying on the ground.  Picking it up, the extremely faded letters read, “City Property: No Trespassing”.  Oops… apparently they didn’t want anyone riding on this portion of trail.  Would have been nice if a sign like this was on the other end where the paved portion ended.  No wonder it was so pathetic!

Wabash Cannonball Trail looking west at CR17

Across the street, there was a sign marking “Wabash Cannonball Trail”.  This section was definitely better with the cinder hardpack.  I put the bike into the middle range and zoomed along by comparison.  I’d eaten up a lot of time on the poor section though, so when I reached CR17, I opted to mount the front and rear lights on the bike and venture back to Wauseon via the roads.  Even with the tire pressure softened for use on the trail, I was cruising a heckuva lot faster getting back on the roads than I did heading out on the trail.

Reflecting on a day of riding

Well… I won’t be adding the miles very quickly to my training log using the mountain bike, but you can sure get a good work quicker and burn more calories than with the road bikes. 🙂

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Wabash Cannonball Trail: Wauseon and East to ??

August 26, 2008

The plan when I came up to NW Ohio this week was to try to ride more sections of the Wabash Cannonball trail that reportedly runs from Montpelier (near the Indiana line) over to Maumee (outside of Toledo). When I was doing some training in Montpelier several weeks ago, I brought my mountain bike and rode the unimproved path starting in Montpelier and heading over to near Archbold. Based on what I’d read, the paved trail started in Wauseon and headed east, so I brought my road bike to see if I could bike over to the Oak Openings Park just west of Toledo.

Well… rarely do good plans “survive first contact”. I got a hotel in Wauseon so that I could start on the trail here, got the bike stuff square around (I had to do some maintenance after riding in T-Storms on Sunday).

I hit the trail starting in Rotary Park in Wauseon, and the paved trail was quite nice. There was a warning in one of the trail reports that from CR13 to CR11, the trail was closed because it hadn’t been completed over the busy freight rail corridor that goes East and West through this section of Ohio. It required a brief ride north onto CR F and then East a couple of miles before dropping down to the trail again. This is where the plan started to break down. The trail did indeed start up again, but it wasn’t paved. Rather, it was a rough grassy trail, in some respects worse than the cinder path I ridden earlier in the year to the West.

Anyway, it mattered little because it wasn’t suitable for a road bike with 23mm smooth tires. Thinking that maybe the paved trail started another mile over, I rode back up to CR F, headed east another mile, and looked again… more of the same. So I did this 3 times before I gave up and stayed on the road.

What made matters worse was the strong headwind from the East that I was experiencing on the road away from the protection of the tree canopy on the trail. Frankly, it sucked… especially as it constantly buffeted my front tire. I went about 10 miles like this before I cried “Uncle” and figured any further search for a paved trail was fruitless. Naturally, before I decided to turn around, the wind started abating, and the strong tailwind that I was counting on to fly back to the starting point became a breeze. Even so, it was a heck of a lot easier on the return leg…. logging me right at 20 miles tonight.

There were a couple of interesting sites along the road.

After traveling over half of the Wabash Cannonball trail this summer, I’ve concluded that there is a very weak commitment to the rails to trails program in this area of the state. Not surprising, since the population density is rather low here compared to the Cincinnati-Dayton area. This was supposed to be the longest and most publicized section of trail in this area of the state, and it’s primarily a walking path, suitable in many places for a mountain bike. However, with the exception of sections that run through some of the towns like Wauseon, it is a long ways from becoming a premiere multi-use path like the Little Miami Scenic trail that runs over 70 miles from lower Cincinnati up past Springfield to Urbana.

It’s little wonder I didn’t hear much about the rails to trails program during the 25 years I lived in NW Ohio (except for the 7 mile section between Fremont and Clyde). When I lived in this section of the state, I was within 15-60 minutes of good quarry diving for scuba practice. Now that I’m in SW Ohio, I’m with minutes of some of the premiere biking paths in the State. It all just goes to show you… wherever you live geographically, make the most of the recreational activities that they afford you, because you never know when you might leave that area.

Carpe Diem!!!

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Wabash Cannonball Trail: West Unity to Rt 66 Ohio Turnpike Entrance

July 15, 2008

I rode more of the unimproved Wabash Cannonball Trail (north fork) tonight. Heading over to West Unity from the hotel in Holiday City, I started from the park just off of Main Street. This section of trail is general packed better than the section west of West Unity. Still, there were some surprises along the way. Holes made by woodchucks (aka groundhogs) were lurking around… even saw one of the critters standing up looking at me until I got close and it ran off. There is also an area that has several bowl shaped depressions with standing water. It was fun to build up speed as I approached them and loop around the outer edge of the bowl to stay out of the water.

Some of the highlights of the trip were the 3 bridges that I crossed. The first is in West Unity shortly after leaving the park. There is a second one over a creek, and then the last one is a solid steel one that has a placard with “Tiffin River” on it. I stopped and took pics with my phone, but the mosquitoes were horrible on the 2nd two bridges. The areas around them are like stagnant bogs/marshes and my arms and legs were literally covered with those hungry menaces, so I couldn’t stay long. Racing through on the bike, I was pretty immune to the pests until I stopped for pics. Yikes!!!  Unfortunately, I don’t have the right cell tower access out here to send the pics from my phone to my email… so no pics for the blog… bummer!

It was a great 11 mile ride… more challenging than pavement, and better than the uber loose cinder on the trail west of here. I was able to keep up a nice challenging pace for quite a while.

Since I didn’t bring chain oil or my chain cleaner with me, I’m wondering what all of the cinder dust coating my bike is going to do…. it seems to have an abrasive nature. Perhaps the next couple of nights, I’ll stick to the back country roads that are easy to get to from the hotel and enjoy some new vistas.

View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com

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Finding Some Trail in NW Ohio

July 14, 2008

I had to leave SW Ohio today to go setup for some training I’m doing in NW Ohio. At the last minute, I decided to throw my bike on the rack and take it with me….. Glad I did!!

I asked a guy at the hotel concierge if he knew of any bike trails in the area. He mentioned that there were some being worked on, but in various stages of completion. It seems that there are long term plans to have a trail from Montpelier (near the Indiana line) over to Toledo. I’m a couple of miles from Montpelier, so I started doing some searches online when I got to the hotel room. What I found was plans for the Wabash Cannonball Trail.

According to the reports, the paved trail portion stops about 20 miles east of Montpelier, but most of it was navigable with a mountain bike. I pulled up the trusty Google maps and made a mental note of where the trail might be accessed.

Driving a few miles from the hotel, I turned down some country roads, but had a hard time see where the old rail lines might be, but after zig-zagging a couple of times, I found one that look promising, especially since the small sign had the name of the trail on it.  I parked along the side of the road, jumped out, geared up, and took off.

The trail is primarily loose cinder, some loose mud in places, lots of overgrown cropped grass, and even some piled “rip rap” type rock to allow farmers to go across from one field to another. This sure wasn’t as difficult as some of the mountain bike trails we’ve already done because it’s extremely flat, but it did take consistent pedal to stay moving. When you stopped pedaling, you coasted to a stop in 10 ft or less in most places. The exception to this was the trail inside of the town of West Unity. Most of this was hard packed pretty good where it almost felt like pavement, but there was some at the park in town that was like riding through someones lawn before they’ve mowed it.

One of the highlights was a cool bridge that goes over Main St in West Unity. Nice covered bridge to watch the cars drive under the viaduct from.

I worked up a great sweat churning down the trail, but I only spent an hour riding. I wasn’t really ready for something longer after doing 100K yesterday, but I am looking forward to playing around more on this the rest of the week while I’m in the area.

Right now… biking feels like a drug… I couldn’t wait to get on the bike today, and then searching out new trail was a pretty cool too. For a fitness activity, this has gotten a bit addictive! 🙂

View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com