Friday, November 28, 2014

Gobble Wobble 5K Recap

While most people have turkey and football to look forward to on Thanksgiving morning, my family also has running on that list of holiday traditions!

With hundreds of 5Ks taking place on Thanksgiving Day across the country with hundreds of thousands of participants, we are certainly not alone in this growing trend!

Since 2012, the Evans family has thrown on our compression clothes and laced up our running shoes to take part in the Warren Kiwanis Turkey Trot. However, this year, we switched it up a bit and signed up for the  Shenango Conservancy Gobble Wobble 5K located in Buhl Farm Park in Hermitage, PA.

Yes, I know. I realize that this race is not in Ohio, and therefore it doesn't technically make it an OHventure. I myself was none too pleased with our change in venue for this reason alone. But, truth be told, this turkey trot is closer to our house in Hubbard than the one in Warren. And, everyone else wanted to give it a shot, so, majority rules.

But - just because this wasn't in Ohio doesn't mean there aren't a cornucopia of turkey trots that you can choose from if you do decide to take part in this tradition in years to come. Check out a list of some of those turkey trots at this link.

The Gobble Wobble is pretty popular! There were over 1,500 runners present on Thanksgiving morning, despite the blustery conditions. It was in the 30s with snow flurries and gray skies overlooking the icy pond, Lake Julia. Folks were crowded in the beautiful park, many with Thanksgiving-themed attire, such as pumpkin pie hats, turkey sweaters, Native American garb, and fall-colored tutus. There were even people braving the weather showing some skin

We met up with my friends Matt and Jess and we all decided to make it more of a leisurely run than a competitive race. This was perfect, since we all had a long day ahead, and it allowed for us to take in the scenic views of the park's gardens and landscaping. Even in the winter, Buhl Park (one in which I have frequented over the years) still looks beautiful and serene.

The Casino

Our pace was set at a very steady 9-minute mile, partly due to our choice, and partly because of the large crowd we were stuck behind. We started by the "Casino" (the large white building which is the focal point of the park, regularly housing social gatherings and park activities) and circled around Kite Field for Mile #1. Mile #2 continued past Lake Julia, the baseball diamond, the Julia Buhl Memorial Gardens, and the Wilderness Area. Finally, Mile #3 made its way past the Acker Gazebo & Becky's Garden, finishing by Kite Field and the Casino.

Along the way, we had some fun by goofing off and catching snowflakes on our tongues, and pushed ourselves to conquer the giant hill near the end of the course. It was great to go at such a gentle pace that we were able to talk and catch up, taking our minds off the cold! At the finish line, hot chocolate, coffee and popcorn awaited us in the pavilion.

While I still had hoped we trotted and wobbled in Ohio rather than Pennsylvania, it was still a refreshing and exciting 5K with family and friends. And, thus, the tradition continues!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

All-American Soap Box Derby

Photos by OHventures

789 Derby Downs Dr.
Akron, OH 44306
(330) 733-8723

The All-American Soap Box Derby is truly an all-American pastime. Every July since 1934 (except for the years of World War II), hundreds of youth have flocked to the Derby Downs racetrack in Akron (except for the first year in which is was located in Dayton) to compete in the iconic race. 

To take part in the competition, youngsters aged 7-18 (separated in heats by age and experience) throughout United States and the world are required to construct their own race car to bring with them on the big day. Originally, this meant they were tasked with designing the cart and acquiring the materials themselves. Currently, however, those participating are shipped the materials and blueprints so that all cars are on an even playing field. 

The cars (either stock, super-stock, or master, according to the division one has entered) are made out of wood (originally wood from soap crates, hence the name) and standardized wheels with precision  ball bearings (all produced at a warehouse on site in Akron). The cars do not have a motor and rely 100% on gravity to zoom down the track. Thankfully, Akron is extremely hilly, which is how the location of the track was determined.

Derby Downs is comprised of a giant hill with a 989-foot paved track and multiple lanes, with metal bleachers on each side. At the height of its popularity (in the 1950s and 1960s), upwards of 60,000 spectators (including many famous actors and celebrities) would come to marvel at the event. While it is still popular today, the crowds are not nearly to the same magnitude as they once were.

Because of this, the All-American Soap Box Derby has in recent years added many other events and programs that allow for other folks to experience the splendor and excitement of Derby Downs.

Some of the events and programs include: 
  • Senior Day: Seniors enjoy lunch, health information booths, health screenings and a trip down Derby Downs in an adult Soap Box Derby car.
  • Autism Day: A special day to raise awareness, support and hope for Autism and give an opportunity to folks who would not normally have the chance to experience the thrill of the hill.
  • Corporate/Private Events: A company or individual can rent the track for a day for a corporate or private event!
  • STEM Summer Camp: High schoolers in STEM schools have the chance to design, construct, race, and showcase their own creations!
  • Gravity Racing Challenge (GRC): Designed to provide K-12 educators and students with meaningful, project- and standards-based, intercurricular learning opportunities in classroom setting.
Keep an eye out for these events and more ways you might be able to experience Derby Downs. If you are unable to ride, spectators are always welcome!

I had the once-in-a-lifetime rare opportunity to hop in an adult-sized soap box derby car and ride the track all by myself this fall! I was so grateful to have the chance to be on this sacred track, and it didn't hurt that they put me in a Swenson's cart! I am unsure of my exact time or speed, but I was told that the cars reach speeds of about 35 miles per hour. Although I was a bit nervous I wouldn't be that great at steering the race car or braking in time, my ride was smooth and successful!

In addition to the track and production building on site, there is also a museum and hall of fame, which showcases the evolution of the soap box cars, famous items from over the years, photos of every winner in soap box derby history, and more historic artifacts & memorabilia.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Columbus & Cincinnati Pedal Wagon

Photos by OHventures


That's the slogan me and my rowdy crew of Ohio State Buckeyes fans lived by while riding in the Columbus Pedal Wagon one brisk morning before the football game!

The Columbus Pedal Wagon (and similarly, the Cincinnati Pedal Wagon), is a contraption that requires you and a group of able-bodied buddies to hop on board and use your man-power to wheel the wagon from bar to bar to bar! 

It's essentially a bar on wheels - except state laws don't allow you to drink while ON the pedal wagon - YET. So, that means, for now, the cupholders are merely spots to put your phones while you ride!

The Columbus Pedal Wagon offers various routes which you can sign up for that will allow you to navigate the vehicle to various drinking establishments within different neighborhoods. The tours last approximately 2 hours, and you usually get to visit about 3-4 different bars in that timeframe, depending on how long you stay at each one, and how far apart they are.

Themes are prescheduled to correspond with particular launch times, but if you love a route and not its scheduled time, the Columbus Pedal Wagon will make it work for you. Just be sure to give them an advanced notice so they can plan around the changes. What's cool is that they are also always open to new themes and routes, and will work with you to choose which bars you go to along the route that you have chosen.

On October 18, me and selected family (my mom, dad, and aunt) and friends (Alex, James, Alyce, and Steve) boarded the Columbus Pedal Wagon for the High Street Shuffle theme route. This route cruises through the Short North neighborhood of Columbus, stopping at 4 eclectic bars. Each spot had drink specials specifically for us pedalers. We wore a special wristband to designate to our bartenders that we were with the Pedal Wagon to get our discounts on drinks!

We were told by our driver, Paul, to meet at BBR (a bar located on Vine Street near the North Market) at 12:00 for our 12:30-2:30 PM scheduled ride. Being the rowdy group that we are, we decided to meet up at 11:00 AM so we could take advantage of the $3 draughts that we received on special for being a part of the Pedal Wagon. We also decided as a group that we needed some shots of FIREBALL whiskey to warm us up. Even though we would be bundled up, wearing a liquor coat never hurts!

When Paul arrived, he and I discussed our route. As mentioned, the tour guides work with you to determine what bars you would like to go to. I wanted to have a mix of modern bars and dive bars, so we decided on the following stops:

  • BBR (106 Vine Street, Columbus, OH 43215) - Our meeting place, this is a sports  bar that is typically loud with a young crowd and a rock & roll theme).

At the Short North Pint House
  • Pint House (780 N. High Street, Columbus, OH 43201) - My favorite bar in the Short North. It is modern with eclectic decor, a beer garden pation, a HUGE bar, loads of beers on tap, a photo booth, a mixed crowd, an open ceiling, and an overall slick feel. There is even a part of the bar that is made of ice so you can keep you drink cool.
Drinks at Bodega
  • Bodega (1044 N. High Street, Columbus, OH 43201) - A "hipster" hangout, Bodega has been recently renovated and is known for its endless array of draught beers, to-die-for grilled cheese, and a charming crowd of cool kids.
  • Mike's Grill (724 N. High Street, Columbus, OH 43215) - The definition of a dive bar: smelly, dirty, sticky, and cheap! But that's all part of the experience. I love bringing people here just because it's such a hole in the wall. We came for $1 Jell-O shots and cans of PBR!
Hanging out at our last stop, Novak's!
  • Novak's Tavern (475 N. High Street, Columbus, OH 43214) - Our final destination. Novak's has also been recently renovated and has pool tables, an awesome rooftop with a view of the Columbus skyline, and great specials on mixed drinks.
We were told to assign someone on board to be the "DJ" for the day. We picked Alyce (an easy choice because of her high energy personality). As DJ, she was able to plug her iPhone into the AV jack located on the wagon, and create our playlist for the entire ride! She was blaring party jams up and down High Street. It was really cool how they let us set the tone with the music, which really did make it even more fun!

A view of Short North on board the Pedal Wagon.

Over all, pedaling the wagon was not too difficult. Because we had so many people, it did not require us to exert too much energy (some of us had some sore legs the next day, though!). However, it did require that we work together and get in sync to get us to where we wanted to go in a quick fashion! All of the steering was done by our tour guide (Paul), who also advised us as to when to stop and start pedaling when we got to red lights, turns, etc. We didn't have to do any of the thinking - just the drinking!

Me & Steve on our new favorite ride!

There were many onlookers in cars and on foot who were amused at the sight of us pedaling by. It was certainly a unique and one-of-a-kind way to enjoy some drinks (and not to mention a TON of laughs) with friends & family on game day, or ANY day in Columbus or Cincinnati. We felt good that not only were we not drinking and driving, we were also getting a bit of exercise in between drinks!

And just because we are getting into the winter months does not mean that the pedal wagon goes into hibernation. You can book a ride on the Polar Bear Express NOW throughout winter!