Day 19 – Columbus to Dayton

A Night at the Races

It was a great evening to be out last night. Thanks to my warmshowers host Ben for getting me out to the Friday night crit. Fun to see they guys duke it out on the short track. Also one of those great warm midwestern evenings that I miss. I even saw fireflies – which I haven’t seen for years. And the crowd around the race was warm and friendly too. Steve, a local racer and I chatted for a long time about the races, and touring and he gave me some tips for Dayton. And I got to sample the local brats and IPA’s which, after the long day I put in, went down great.

Great crowd out to watch – plenty to make it fun but not crazy crowded


These guys were flying towards the finish. The pace is around 28 or 30 mph except toward the end the sprints get up to 40.

This morning I got up and out on the early side and Ben gave me an escort for the first couple of miles just to get me on the right course. Thanks for hosting, Ben! It’s been awhile since I “couch-surfed” but one of the perks of riding 95 miles is that I can sleep anywhere and the couch was fine.

Ben escorting me to my route. Ben did a cross country trip of 3800 miles in 38 days. Ouch. His advice; don’t go that fast.

I struggled today with logistics and priorities. How can I get to the museum in Dayton, and find a reasonably priced hotel and get back to Cincinnati tomorrow, and meet Kent in Dayton, and not ride too far, and blah blah blah. I booked a reservation and canceled it before I realized a way to make it work that would give us a pleasurable rails-to-trails ride tomorrow. But for a long time the pieces wouldn’t fit which distracted me from the day. Next time my mantra will be to ride less, make it easier, go slower and stop rushing things. I’ve said this before, I know. I can be a little thick sometimes with prickly issues. I’ll get there eventually, and then I will have it.

I’m going to need some of that patience for my next big adventure too. Remember that house that I mentioned way back before I started this thing in earnest? Well we got it and will close on Monday. That is exciting and a little scary too. That commits me to a big remodel project. I’m very excited about that but it’s a little intimidating because I’ve never done a construction job anywhere near this big. So I will have to go slow and I look forward to learning as I go. What a great opportunity – a gift really – to have the chance to learn new skills in life. I don’t know how other’s are content without continuing to learn new things. That’s something I guess I can work on too but I’ll save that for later. For now I’m just excited about all the new mistakes I get to make. It’s an odd consolation for me too that this house is such a beautifully situated POS that I could do nothing but make it better, even with only what I know now. Hmmm, Megan I don’t know if this counts for optimism. Sort of a pessimist’s take on optimism but I’m learning.

The ride today felt more like a chore than a joy. Guess I’ve seen enough barns and fields for awhile. I left early and had to cross through downtown and West Columbus, neither of which I wanted to spend any extra time in. We have a big midwestern drug problem, and a blight problem. I’ll leave it at that for now.

At this point I was happy to have downtown Columbus in my tiny little visor-mounted geeky cyclist mirror.
Rail cars of oil (or diesel?) as far as the eye can see.
Not the first big bike parade I’ve sent in the last 2 weeks. They are hard to do justice in a photo. You really need the audio to appreciate them.

The best thing about the ride was meeting other cyclists along the way. There are quite a few people out here making extensive use of all these nice trails. And I can see it’s bringing some tourism dollars to the towns along the way – that’s a positive trend. I got lots of questions about where I’m heading etc which is always nice. Oh and Xenia (little town at the hub of several trails) was giving out free bananas and hot dogs for cyclists. Let’s give them an A for effort but a hot dog is about the last thing you ought to eat mid-ride. I did anyway but with the diet I’ve had through the Midwest I’ve got an iron clad GI tract or I’d have doubled over a long time ago. What? TMI? Sorry about that but the reality of putting in 70 miles a day is that you got to take care of some unmentionables pretty carefully or you aren’t going anywhere fast (insert bathroom humor of your choosing here).

Oh Look! Farms, barns and corn! Fine me a $1 for sarcasm. It was worth it.
You couldn’t put together a prettier bouquet if you picked them out yourself.

Engineering Rant
(skip if design is not your thing)

You see these water towers all over the Midwest. They have fascinated me since I was a kid. Actually they bug me. Why?

Surely these, lit from below at night, are responsible for more than their share of UFO sightings. OK, what else is wrong with this picture?

OK, Jim, it’s a water tower. A cleanly designed one at that. One might almost say clever. Why would that bother anyone?

Because it is so wrong. Let’s start here:

Definition of unstable equilibrium. : a state of equilibrium of a body (as a pendulum standing directly upward from its point of support) such that when the body is slightly displaced it departs further from the original position — compare stable equilibrium(such as a pyramid sic).

This design is literally the definition of an unstable equilibrium. So what you say? Well at least two things bug me about it:

1) Some clever engineer somewhere is patting himself on the back. “What a wonderfully elegant design I’ve achieved! By placing something heavy and high above the city I have demonstrated how smart we are.” This is the same stupid school of thought that brought you tons of buildings in the 60’s and 70’s with tiny windows and lots of concrete walls. “We can add lights if we need light! We can add heating and cooling mechanically if we need it. Triumph over nature!”

BS. Nature always wins. Make a tiny lego version of this water tower and place it on a piece of paper. Move that piece of paper 1/4 inch to one side. Boom! Tower falls down. The designer makes the assumption that the ground doesn’t move and materials doen’t develop weak spots. This tower is 400 miles from one of the largest earthquakes in US history on the New Madrid fault in southern Missouri. This thing will be horizontal in 50 – 80 years. We’re still looking at the pyramids and the colosseum.

And perhaps more importantly:

2) Why did this design bug me as a kid? Even a kid can see that it’s precarious. Public structures should exist to make it’s citizens feel safe, inspired, happy, proud, creative – not like a gigantic ball of water-filled metal is going to tip over on them at any moment. A structure this size constitutes sculpture as much as serving a purpose. And this sculpture says the sky is about to drop on you.

[end rant]

Air Force Museum – Wright Patterson

I got to Dayton in time to tour the aircraft museum. You need more time to really see it but it’s a pretty amazing collection.

Much to see there
My favorite exhibit. They have a local collection of holocaust stories and artifacts. This violin was a beloved treasure hidden in a young man’s home as their family fled. After the war he got in touch with the building management and they tracked it down and returned it to him.

Tomorrow We Head Near Cincinnati

I’m excited about tomorrow because my good buddy Kent W joins for the day. The last adventure we did was to hike the Grand Canyon so he has a way of showing up for the important stuff. I also admire Kent because he has stuck with his dream of playing in a band and has now done so for many years – such dedication and hutzpah. I think there’ few things more nerve-wracking to me than playing music in front of people.

7 thoughts on “Day 19 – Columbus to Dayton”

  1. Tower = huge phallic symbol!

    Glad you mentioned the unmentionables Jim. I’d been wondering.

    1. Which tower? Actually I thought the one in downtown Columbus was the worst phallic offender.

  2. I’m glad you a fun Night at the Races! Then you had an interesting day, lots of adventures, and the Air Force Museum looked great. I know Burt would love to see it as well. Your new home purchase (West Marin?) sounds like a great project. You’re no doubt right about the “leaning water tower”, I hope no one’s beneath it when it goes.

  3. The wildflowers are the ***** highlight of your great photos. Even the ‘nother barn photo was a *** one. Helen and I spent last night on your deck overlooking Tomales Bay. Don’t worry about the inside, just fix up the deck and hottub and you’ve you’ve got a great place. The Big Dipper and Milky Way were brilliant. Met your neighbor Jennifer who congratulated you on acquiring the most prized property in town.

  4. Thanks, Marv, were excited to get the property. Looking forward to building a tradition there. Those barking dogs worry me a bit but that’s for another day. Glad that you got to break in the place for us.

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