Start: Mount Vernon, OH
Finish: Massillon, OH
Weather: 80 degrees, sunny
Distance to date: 2,182
The day started out sketchy and ended sublime. I could not find the bike path leading from Mount Vernon and spent the
first ten miles or so on US 36, the worst road of my entire ride. It was narrow, pock-mocked and steep. Across one rise a fog set in and visibility was terrible, so I rode with extreme care. Fortunately there was little traffic on a Saturday morning, but I was glad to arrive at Howard, where I found the trail and had a few quiet miles. The trail ended in Danville where I met a couple of enthusiastic cyclists out on a day ride.
I rode on US 62 for about twenty miles; it felt close to home to be on a numbered highway that goes all the way to Massachusetts.
The terrain was rolling, and there were Amish influences all around, barns and buggies and huge white farm houses. I passed the longest covered bridge in Ohio, which goes over a railroad and will eventually be part of the bike trail.
Lunch in Millersburg was terrific – pulled pork on a baked pretzel with onion rings. The pretzel made great bread and was wicked filling. After lunch I picked up the trail again, and the next ten miles were the most interesting yet. From Millersburg to Fredericksburg the trail is about 14 feet wide, has a dotted line, and is shared between cyclists and Amish horse drawn wagons. For the next hour I was the only cyclist in tights and a helmet, the Amish women cycle in their long dresses and small bonnets, the men in their wool pants and straw hats. Each person was reserved but
shared a greeting. Fredericksburg, the end of the trail, is a very Amish town. Every mailbox is either Hostettler or Yoder.
I had not seen Amish since I was a child, and noticed some ways in which they appear to be more connected with the wider world. I saw a number of Amish women driving cars (all mini-vans), though no Amish men. They tend their fields with horses instead of tractors, but use a number of machines in their farming. I was most amused to see a long line of Amish standing outside the Pizza Hut in Millersburg right at 11 am. They must really like the lunch buffet.
Amish houses are huge, their farms immaculate, the country side gorgeous. I couldn’t help but compare to the farms I saw in Missouri, which were so much less kept but swimming in stuff.
Another hilly fifteen miles and I landed in Naverre, where I picked up the Towpath Trail, which follows the old Ohio to Erie Canal. It was hard pack rather than paved, but since I didn’t know how else to get to Massillon I followed it, which was worth the effort. The abandoned canal is swampy, the towpath winds through dense growth, and it is virtually empty.
I arrived in Massillon to find that two of the three hotels had closed, so I violated my own hundred dollar limit rule and paid a whopping $114 a night to stay at the Hampton Inn. It has all the
right amenities, but I feel like I am on a business trip. Blech!
Dinner was a great salad bar and chili at a local place. The best thing about it was the soundtrack – vintage 60’s songs playing nonstop through dinner. Remember these? These Boots are Made for Walking… Hey, I Got You Babe… You Just Keep Me Hanging On… Everyone’s Gone to the Moon… They all play on Saturday night in Massillon.
Amish Buggy on the Trail outside Fredericksburg, OH