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Heaven In "The Heart of It All":
Diverse Terrain, Pleasant Towns, Fine B&Bs
By Theresa Russell
The author is the owner of Serendipedal Tours and is working on completing the Bed, Breakfast & Bike book for Ohio, Michigan and Indiana.
Contrary to its oft held image of flat with cornfields everywhere, Ohio offers diverse terrain. For those looking to ride in scenic as well as challenging territory, the following areas will provide a good workout and other diversions to make a visit there worthwhile. Combined with a few days of riding, a night or two at a local B&B make an ideal mini-vacation.
West Liberty (Western Ohio)
Situated in the center of the state, west of Columbus, Logan County claims the highest point in Ohio. West Liberty is a perfect base for exploring this pastoral region. The bike shop on the main street in town can recommend routes and in fact it is easy to follow their route markings for four different rides. Those south of town are gently rolling, while those toward the north become downright hilly which is logical considering you approach that high point in this direction. Traffic is light and from the tops of the lung busting hills it seems that the entire state is visible.
Back on the main street of West Liberty stands Liberty House, a grand Victorian home surrounded by lovely gardens. The hosts graciously welcome cyclists to their very attractive and spacious home. Great riding, the local attractions which include the Piatt Castles and warm hospitality guarantee that you will return again and again.
Chillicothe (South-Central Ohio)
Just about an hour south of Columbus and like Columbus--once too, the capital of Ohio--Chillicothe sits in a valley surrounded by hills reminiscent of those seen in a child's drawing. In fact, the Great Seal of the State of Ohio captures this very scenic area for all to enjoy. Besides the Great Seal State Park, other attractions include Adena, the outdoor drama - Tecumseh, several mounds, and historic downtown Chillicothe.
The riding is certainly challenging, less so if you stay within the city limits. But if you head south or northeast you pump up forested hills and then careen down them at incredibly high speeds. It is simple to pick out a route with a good county map, just avoid the main roads and be prepared for stop signs part way down steep hills.
Back in town in a lovely historic district with a variety of architecture, an enormous green Queen Anne welcomes guests to spend the night within her magnificent walls.
Filled with collections of antiques grouped
together by type, this ornate
mansion offers 5 large antique filled guestrooms. "Miss Hospitality" as she is known by the local tourist office, enjoys cyclists and knows the area well.
Amish Country (East-Central Ohio)
Settled by the Amish, Holmes, Coshocton and Tuscarawas Counties have roads heavily traveled by horse and buggy. This benefits cyclists, as motorists seem more alert for slow moving vehicles. Another plus for cyclists, bakeries and restaurants offering home-cooking abound. Pedaling the hills in this area works up an appetite and is a great excuse for sampling local treats - not that any cyclist ever needs an excuse for eating!
A very scenic base for a few days of exploring the area, A Valley View Inn sits on the top of a hill overlooking Amish country. Nancy and Dan, co-hosts, have maps available and can recommend some great routes and, of course, point out the good bakeries, restaurants and other attractions. Each of the rooms at her inn are furnished with locally made products which include beds, armoires, blanket chests and quilts with unique designs for which each room is named.
Now, the next time somebody complains about the flatness of Ohio, take them to one of these areas and let them ride a bit (preferably on a single-speed since that is all that is needed for flat terrain) and then see if they don't gain a new perspective.
Bed and Breakfasts...
Liberty House, 208 North Detroit, West
Liberty Ohio 43557-0673, 800-437-8109
Hosts: Sue and Russ Peterson, rate: $55-75
The Greenhouse, 47 E. 5th St.,
Chillicothe, Ohio 45601,
Hosts: Tom and Dee Shoemaker, rate: $65
Valley View Inn, 322327 S.R. 643,
New Bedford Ohio 43824,
Hosts: Nancy and Dan Lembke, rate $75-105
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