Four siblings over fair week traveled by bicycle from Lake Erie to the Ohio River, through big cities and small towns and Amish Country, and they did it all in eight days.
Amie Gallaugher, a Hillsboro resident and a fourth-grade teacher at Greenfield Elementary, is the youngest of the siblings, who she says are all “avid bikers.”
There was no particular reason for the trip, Gallaugher said. Her siblings had been tossing the idea around for a while about them taking a cycling trip, and her sister’s husband decided they could make their own, so he did.
When the idea came up to make the trip on the Ohio to Erie Trail, Gallaugher said she didn’t want to be left out, so she decided to accompany her brothers and sister.
“This was quite a stretch for me,” she said, “because just a year ago I was completing radiation for breast cancer.” And then after that she was dealing with other physical issues resulting from the treatment. That meant that she couldn’t start training for the nearly 340-mile trip until the beginning of summer.
Today, Gallaugher is cancer free, she says, and while she doesn’t foresee becoming quite the cyclists her siblings are, she says the whole experience was “a lot of fun.”
Starting in June, Gallaugher logged between 20 and 33 miles on her bike three times a week in preparation for the trip. Her brothers and sister, she said, routinely put in 2,000 to 3,000 miles per year on their bikes.
Leaving on Sept. 6, the quartet of siblings, consisting of Gallaugher, brother J Hedges of Okinawa, Japan, brother Brad Hedges of Lancaster, and sister Jocelyn Hedges-Goubeaux of California, were also accompanied by six others that included some spouses and friends.
In two vehicles, with one pulling a trailer for gear, the “SAG (support and gear) wagon” included Gallaugher’s cousin, her husband, and mother, Shirley Hedges.
Hedges, who turned 80 last week, said the trip “was very stressful at times, but it was fun.”
She said she didn’t want to go at first. She’s a worrier, she said, and all four of her kids were out there all at once. But she did go and today is “very glad” she did.
And even though it was about a month early, Hedges’ children surprised her on the trip with a cake and birthday celebration.
Along the way, she said friends and family would meet up with the group of cyclists to ride for a bit, or come to the hotel in the evening and share a meal with the travelers.
“It was a very good experience,” Hedges said. “I’m glad the kids got to do it.”
Each cyclist on the journey began with their back tire in Lake Erie, and each one ended the cross-state trek with their front tire in the Ohio River.
With the exception of Holmes County and it’s “rather awful” hills, Gallaugher said, it was an amazing journey.
And along the way was mostly good weather, lots of nature, and some hairy traveling in Columbus and Cincinnati along major thoroughfares. There was also bonding with her trip mates, Gallaugher said.
Each night they stayed in a hotel where they were met their by their support team and Gallaugher’s worried mother. But in the end, she said her mom “was super excited that she had gone.”
Upon Gallaugher’s return to the classroom on Sept. 14, she shared the experience with her students with a map of the journey color-coded to show each day’s progress, and a chart listing how many miles were traveled each day.
“They had so many questions,” Gallaugher said of the students. And her experience turned not only into a lesson about rounding numbers using the daily mileage chart, but also about weather and the geography of different parts of Ohio.
“I had no idea the kids would be eating it up so much,” she said.
For eight days, according to Gallaugher, the siblings traveled between 31 miles and 53 miles each day along the trail.
The under-progress trail is a mix of dirt path, paved path, and roads between Cleveland and Cincinnati. According to ohiotoerietrail.org, 240 miles of the 300-mile trail are completed to date.
The trail, according to the website, will connect four of Ohio’s major cities. A map on the website shows the trail passing through Akron and Columbus as well as numerous towns and villages in the Buckeye State.
Now, whether there will be more cycling trips like this in the future, Gallaugher said she doesn’t know. But, she’s glad to have been a part of this “rolling family reunion.”
“It was just absolutely fabulous. I was just so happy that I’d gone,” she said. “It was lots of work, lots of effort, but well worth it.”
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.