Tuesday, September 17, 2013

S24O: Mansfield to Mohican State Forest

This past Saturday buddy Charles and I finally got to our first joint S24O this year. Rather than the usual meet and ride the short hop to Alum Creek SP, we had something new in mind. We started by driving an hour north to Mansfield. Our plan was to take the Richland B&O rails-to-trails as far as it extended towards Mohican State Forest, then make our way the rest of the way on roads.

Our first challenge was finding a non-sketchy place to leave my car. This turned out to be difficult in this part of Mansfield (no offense to Mansfieldians). We finally ended up in the parking lot of Mansfield High, ready to roll:

From there, it was a short hop downhill to find the trailhead... where there was ample parking. Next time. The B&O started off with a bridge:

which was a foreshadowing of the many more bridges to come. We rolled out of the city along the trail, passing a large swamp:

Happily, in the early fall, the bugs weren't too abundant. Our first stop was Lexington, at the Y not bike shop. It was fun to see a bike shop just a few yards off the bike trail. They know they have a good location, too--it was the first bike shop I've seen with an ice cream cooler.

More bridges were crossed:

We continued on the slight grades of the B&O through Bellville (which had a small city fair going on) then to Butler, where the trail ended. Eighteen miles of traffic free trails was a nice change of pace. From Butler, the route quickly moved to quiet roads. Quiet, but hilly, and even some gravel:

The road opened up into some nice farm vistas:

More climbing, and we finally reached our goal:

It's the "memorial state forest" because it contains a memorial to Ohio's war dead from the Civil War onwards:

Lots of names here, lots of heartbroken families:

We had a bit more ground to cover before our campsite, including a small section of the Mohican mountain bike trail:

Still fun, but I was quite a bit faster tackling this a few weeks back on my full suspension bike--without 30 pounds of luggage!

Unfortunately, we found someone had already staked out our planned campsite, so we had to move up the gas line road a bit to find a clear spot:

Not the most scenic or comfortable camp site, but it was $28 cheaper than camping in the state park next door. Probably quieter, too. Anyway, we didn't mind as we were tired and hungry. Time for some Indian food:

We followed this up with a nightcap of "baby formula" and some delicious home made frosted pumpkin bread from Charles's wife Angie, and then hit the sack. It was COLD that night, probably dipping into the low 40s. I only had a summer weight sleeping bag, so I slept while wearing pretty much every article of clothing I'd brought with me. Have you ever tried to sleep in a balaclava? It's not particularly restful.

We set out the next morning for home, on the road before 8:00. It was still a chilly ride for the first hour or so:

More bridges:

Charles's app tells us we climbed about 800 feet--it sure felt like more. Lots of downhills leaving the park, then a long uphill grind back to Mansfield:

This was my longest ride with my Buzz with the Surly Open Bar. Overall, the Buzz did well, stable enough at 30+mph downhills, and stiff enough to handle my load. My gearing was just adequate: I was able to climb everything in my 32/34 low, and the 32/12 was just enough to go as fast as I wanted on the downhills. The Open Bar is more of a mixed review: my back felt great with it, but my hand started getting tingly towards the end of day two. But not bad for a $224 bike.


  1. "the bugs weren't too abundant."? I seem to remember wiping a cloud of gnats off my arms about once every 2 miles or so! But all in all it was a great trip. We were visited by a deer during the night, and heard lots of owls calling. Unlike Eric, my sleeping bag is good below freezing so I started the night too warm in my long sleeve wooly shirt. But by morning, I was fully in the bag with only my mouth and nose poking out. Considering how out of shape I am from not riding much this season (and rock climbing the day before) I was surprised my legs held up as well as they did.

    1. Oh yeah, the gnats... maybe my PTSD blocked my memories of wiping a layer of gnats off my T shirt. I guess I should clarify that "the mosquitoes weren't too abundant."


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