Since our last blog post, we've been visiting family in Hickory, North Carolina (Emily's mother and step-father) and Dover, Ohio (Barry's parents). We've helped them with weeding, pruning, mulching, and other chores and enjoyed some good family time. And between chores and socializing, we managed to carve out time for some excellent bike rides.
Hickory, NC is in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains and is quite hilly, but we sought out some slightly flatter roads and came up with some loops we could ride from the house. These rides were primarily to maintain fitness as there are mostly just suburbs to see (though lots of pretty flowers in bloom). But busy thoroughfares limited how far we could go a given direction.
The area around Dover, OH is much more conducive to longer, more rural and exploratory bike rides, so we took full advantage during our stay. There are rolling hills and a big climb to get over a ridge just north of town, but once over, there are some excellent flat to near-flat roads where traffic is light and serious mileage is possible. And some adorable small towns we enjoyed checking out along the way. We were lucky to have mostly excellent weather as well.
On most rides we passed this adorable winery in an old schoolhouse. I kept thinking we'd stop in for a tasting on the way back from a ride, but we never did. By that time, I was sweaty and just wanted to get back and grab a shower. I still hope to visit the winery one day.
On a few rides, we pedaled through the small, historic town of Bolivar. We'd been here before riding the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, but this time were sticking to the roads.
There's a winery here too; oddly named the Island Palm winery (seems more fitting for Belize than Ohio!) I thought the old building was incredibly charming with its bright, new paint job and moldings.
I thought this tavern was cute too -- too bad we were usually here in the morning.
We stopped in at Fort Laurens just outside Bolivar on most of our rides, as they had a nice public restroom building near the road, which made for a convenient pit stop. On Memorial Day, we just happened to ride up as a tractor parade was getting started!
On a couple of rides, we pedaled into the small village of Zoar. This historic town is incredibly charming and well-preserved and reminded me somewhat of historic Hillsborough, North Carolina.
Zoar was founded in the early 19th century by a group of German Separatists. You can learn more about the village on the Historic Zoar Village website. I had to stop and take a lot of photos here!
The Zoar Garden is in the middle of the square and lovely at this time of year.
On another ride, we pedaled up to Mineral City, which didn't have the charm of Zoar or Bolivar, but did offer an amazing family-run bakery with CHEAP treats, perfect for the hungry cyclist. The place was PACKED with locals, always a good sign. We got two peanut butter cookies and a chocolate doughnut for 80 cents -- yep, 80 CENTS! If we hadn't just eaten breakfast, we could have really done some damage here.
This same day, we found some lovely roads on the way to Navarre, another nearby town. This one was silky smooth and had no traffic at all. Wish all roads could be like this!
Continuing our "tour de bakeries", we did find this large commercial bakery, Nickle's, but this location didn't have a retail outlet.
Not ready to give up yet, we continued pedaling north and soon found a worthy substitute.
Who says you can't visit a bakery and an ice cream parlor on the same day? Hint: It's allowed if you use pedal power to get there!
One more stop in Navarre since this shop was such a cute photo-op.
As many times as we've visited Barry's parents in Dover, we've never ridden on most of these roads and had no idea what we were missing along the way. Better late than never!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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